Sun to roll out first blade server

Sun next week is expected to introduce the company's first blade-based server, as well as two midrange storage arrays, a 12-processor server and enhancements to its high-end servers.

While Sun would not comment on the announcements, sources say they will include:

- The first UltraSPARC-based server blade platform, which will let customers deploy ultrathin machines in space-constrained environments where multiple servers run the same applications.

- The StorEdge 3510 Fibre Channel Storage Array, which lets customers deploy midrange modular storage as their capacity needs grow.

- Network-attached storage (NAS) capability for the StorEdge 3310, a SCSI-based disk array Sun unveiled in the fall.

- The Sun Fire v1280 entry-level server, which customers can use in workgroups or departments running ERP, CRM or database applications.

Few details are known about the Sun Blade 16000s, uniprocessor server blades the company is expected to announce. The 16000s use UltraSPARC III processors and fit 16 blades in a rack-mount enclosure. They are designed for ISPs, application service providers, carriers and enterprises to use where space is expensive, cabling needs to be simplified and servers must be repurposed on-the-fly.

The Sun Blade 16000s will run Solaris and are expected to have Gigabit Ethernet connections to the network and NAS devices. Future versions will support InfiniBand, sources say.

The new Fibre Channel array will support up to 12 146G-byte drives operating at 10,000 RPMs for a total capacity of as much as 1.7 terabytes, sources say. The Sun StorEdge 3510 Fibre Channel Array will complement Sun's SCSI-based StorEdge 3310, which has been enhanced to offer NAS capability and support for AIX and HP-UX. The StorEdge 3510 will support the same operating systems as the 3310: Windows NT/2000, Solaris, Linux, HP-UX and AIX.

Customers say they welcome the additional capabilities of Sun's StorEdge 3300 storage systems.

"I'm very happy to see Sun expand its entry- and midlevel storage options," says John Groenveld, associate research engineer at The Pennsylvania State University in State College. "I'll be looking at the StorEdge 3000 line as external storage for database servers as well as for my department's software developers' source code repository."

The Sun Fire v1280, which has two to 12 UltraSPARC III processors running at 900 MHz, is the largest of Sun's line of v Series servers. It features some of the same capabilities as Sun's higher-end systems - dynamic partitioning and reconfiguration of systems resources - technologies that let IT managers run multiple applications on a server in protected partitions and automatically balance the memory, bandwidth and number of processors to accommodate tasks.

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