Sun takes on IBM in battle of the blades

Subscription service to hit local shores late 2007

Within days of launching the "fastest blade server on the planet", Sun Microsystems has revealed plans to introduce a subscription service in Australia that provides customers with automatic refreshes of server hardware.

The Sun Refresh Service allows customers to update blades within two months of new servers becoming available. Sun provides three refreshes of the blades over a 42-month period, delivering and installing the new servers and removing the old ones.

The subscription service is currently available in the US and Sun is considering plans to make the offering available in Australia by the end of 2007.

While Sun's ANZ systems product manager James Eagleton, was unwilling to confirm details about launching the service locally, he was keen to talk about the new Sun Blade X8420 server module which is powered by Next-Generation AMD Opteron 8000 series processors.

"It is the only blade server to offer 4-socket dual-core 2.8GHz processors and delivers up to 16 times the throughput of competing 4-socket blade and rackmount servers," Eagleton said.

"The server has outperformed the competition on a variety of industry-standard benchmarks and set an 8-thread world record making it the fastest blade server on the planet."

Eagleton claims the new record result surpasses the competing IBM System p5 550 and HP ProLiant DL585 scores by 16 per cent and 29 per cent respectively.

He said the Sun Blade X8420 server module posted two x86 world records on both floating point and integer-intensive suites of the SPEC CPU2006 benchmark.

However, responding to Sun's benchmarking figures, the system x brand manager at IBM's systems and technology group, Dean Janjic, said blade servers are about more than CPU's.

Janjic said IBM holds the number one market share position worldwide for blade based servers, and has led the market since launching its BladeCentre range back in 2002.

He said BladeCentre customers have a wide array of CPU technologies to choose from including Intel, AMD, Power and even Cell based multi-core blades.

"Some competitors are limited to a few or even one type of CPU technology; but we recognize customers have varying application requirements and budgets," Janjic said.

"IBM also offers customers the choice of either two or four Socket blades. In fact, the IBM LS41 is the industry's only four socket capable blade that offers true pay as you grow upgradability.

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