Sun boosts speed and capability

Sun last week boosted the performance and computing power ofits midrange and high-end servers, and announced thatprocessors of different speeds could reside in the same server.

The company put 1.05-GHz UltraSPARC III Cu (copper) processorsin its midrange Sun Fire 3800, 4899 and 6800 servers and itshigh-end 12K and 15K servers, which give it a 15% increase inperformance, according to company claims. Sun's midrangecomputers are aimed at technical computing environments. TheUltraSPARC III presently runs at 900 MHz.

Sun also announced it is the first vendor to allow processorsof different speeds to operate within a server. The companyclaims that allowing this feature saves customers money becauseit lets them upgrade to faster processors on a processor-by-processor, rather than full-server, basis.

"Typically our customers buy their servers to have some kind ofgrowth in them," a Sun spokesman says. "If they wanted toupgrade to faster CPUs, in the past they had to get rid of allthe older ones. Somebody who has a respectable 900-MHz CPU canadd the new boards into the system and migrate slowly."

This feature is also useful because users can upgrade to fasterprocessors without taking the server down and losingoperational efficiency.

The company's midrange servers use a Uniboard CPU/memory boardthat allows customers to allocate resources by processor asneeded. Each Uniboard contains four processors.

Sun claims that one of the servers that uses the 1.05-GHzprocessor, the Sun Fire 15K, performed the best on the TPC-Hbenchmark in tests of databases 3,000G bytes in size. The SunFire 15K performed at 23,813 queries per hour.

The Sun Fire 3800, the smallest of Sun's midrange or mid-frameproducts, can be partitioned into two system domains that canbe reconfigured on the fly and has up to eight processors. Thelargest mid-frame product, the 15K, has up to 106 processors.

Sun Fire servers feature hardware redundancy, dynamic systemdomains and reconfiguration, as well as hot CPU upgrades. Theyrun the Solaris operating system.

A 700-MHz Sun Fire 6800 with 16 processors and 64G bytes ofmemory costs $709,000; the same server with the 1.05-GHzprocessor costs $869,000.

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