Sun delivers first UltraSparc T2-based servers

Sun Microsystems Inc. late Monday announced its first UltraSparc T2-based servers, which the company hopes will cut the number of servers required in data centres.

The multicore and multithreaded Sun Sparc Enterprise T5120 and T5220 servers deliver double the performance and capacity than its predecessor, UltraSparc T1-based servers, without an increase in size, said Mat Keep, product manager at Sun.

The servers are powered by the UltraSparc T2 processor, which has eight cores with eight threads per core, giving it the power of 64 individual systems in one server, Keep said. The threads are recognized by Solaris OS and boosts system performance with the hardware and virtualization features, Keep said. The T2 processor is also known as the Niagara 2 processor.

“We are enabling customers to run demanding workloads in a small footprint,” Keep said. The servers meet the challenge of delivering services like video and interactive content and collaborative technology without overburdening data centers, Keep said. Virtualization features are built into the server OS and hardware, Keep said. Solaris 10 can run multiple applications in one box, increasing server efficiency and utilization. A hypervisor is built into hardware as firmware, Keep said.

The T5120, a 1U server, supports up to four internal drives, going to eight drives in the future. The T5220, a 2U server, supports eight internal drives, going up to 16 drives in the future, Keep said.

Both systems support up to 64G bytes of memory and consume between 400 watts to 600 watts of power depending on the system configuration. Energy efficiency has been a design point Sun has been pursuing lately, with its recent RISC-based and x86 servers offering better performance-per-watt.

The servers also take advantage of cryptographic acceleration integrated in the T2 processor, which encrypt and decrypts information on the fly. Cryptography usually requires lots of hardware, but T2 integrates security on one chip, Keep said. The accelerator supports multiple encryption standards, including 256-bit AES (Advanced Encryption Standard), 1024-bit RSA encryption, DES (Data Encryption Standard), Triple DES and MD5 (Message Digest algorithm 5).

The T2 processor takes a stab at high-performance computing with a boost in floating point operations, important for drug discovery and engineering application workloads, Keep said.

Pricing for the T5120 and T5220 servers start at US$13,995.00 at $14,995.00, respectively. It is available worldwide immediately.

Niagara systems were one of the reasons Sun’s server sales increased this year over last, said Jean Bozman, research vice president for the worldwide server group at IDC.

Sun has added more performance and virtualization capabilities to the Niagara processor since its introduction, Bozman said. The first Niagara processor, UltraSparc T1, was launched in Dec. 2005.

Sun has also built in more capability to support databases in the T2 processor, Bozman said. That’s important because when running Web-enabled servers, people want a database in there, she said. And with Web 2.0 applications growing, servers have to be more efficient, she said.

Sun also announced the S$9,995 Sun Blade T6320 module, which runs the T2 processor. The module fits in the Sun Blade 6000 chassis and delivers functionality similar to the T5120 and T5220 servers, Keep said.

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