New Open Storage Products: J4000 & X4540!

Today we announced the newest product editions to our Open Storage offerings:  The Sun Storage J4000 product line and our next-generation "Thumper" (aka "Thor" or the Sun Fire X4540).  

Below is our take on the significance of these new storage products:    

This is not your Father's JBOD: J4000 is Sun's new JBOD product line.  And yes, I did use the words "new" and "JBOD" in the same sentence! To truly see the relevance and impact of a new JBOD product line, we need to look at it in context with recent technology innovations and through an Open Storage filter. 

Let's first look at the new disk interconnects SATA and SAS.  Unlike their ATA and SCSI predecessors, newer SATA and SAS drives provide better performance, flexibility, scalability and reliability (while still using the SCSI and ATA command sets).  They move from parallel and multidrop technologies to serial and point-to-point technologies.  So data transfer is faster (SAS offers 3Gb/s today which comes to 12Gb/s in a 4-lane port.)  You don't have to daisy chain a bunch of SCSI devices together and worry about contention or terminators anymore.  You can connect more devices now; transfer data at longer distances; increase data transfer speeds; and not worry about any past reliability issues you might have had with older ATA and SCSI technologies.  By leveraging these new technologies, today's JBOD offers significant advantages over yesterday's JBOD.           

So who needs new & improved JBOD?  First, Sun's newest JBOD offerings are a great solution for anyone that needs inexpensive, reliable and fast storage added to their servers running applications in any Solaris, Linux or Windows environment. 

Second, JBOD is a perfect building block for an Open Storage device.  It helps answer the question, "How do I build a better and more affordable storage system today?" 

Below is a diagram that sums up the advantage of Open Storage - and why Sun customers can build storage systems for 90% less that purchasing a proprietary storage system:

In the above diagram we see that users have access to open source storage applications and platforms via  Users can also use an industry-standard server running ZFS to provide RAID, data integrity and disk management capabilities - similar to a controller offered in a closed storage system pictured on the right.  So this is a new architecture that let's users customize storage to meet their unique needs while saving a ton of cash (which can then be used to deploy MORE storage or maybe fund a well-deserved trip to some tropical island...) 

When you have all these components, JBOD moves from simply being direct-attached disk for servers to a fundamental building block in deploying a cost-effective, scalable and high-performing storage solution.  (And let's not forget that SSD/Flash is/will be another building block for an even high(er)-performing storage solution!)  

Let's take a look at Sun's new JBOD lineup, available today and starting at ~$3,000 USD list:

  • Sun Storage J4200:  Great entry product.  It's a 2U, 12 drive enclosure which scales to 36TB.  It has 6 ports (each port offers 12Gb/s as mentioned above).
  • Sun Storage J4400:  Great for higher performance and capacity.  It scales to 192TB and has 6 ports.  (Pictured at right)
  • Sun Storage J4500: Great for bulk storage.  The J4500 offers:
    •  The highest capacity in its class - 48TB per tray
    • The highest scalability in its class - scales to 480TB
    • Best density in the market - 12TB per RU
  • Sun StorageTek SAS RAID HBAs: For Sun servers and hardware RAID implementations. 

Thumper's newest sibling - Thor:  Thumper, or the Sun Fire X4500, has been an excellent innovation in the industry.  As a Storage Server hybrid, the X4500 has helped users save significant eco and consolidation costs while boosting storage performance, capacity and flexibility.  

The X4500 sold 70PB of storage in its first year of shipping; was named an InfoWorld 2008 Technology of the Year; and has been used in countless customer implementations - from a Virtual Tape Library, to one of the world's largest supercomputers, in NAS solutions, to a data warehouse and even an IP-based video service.  As I've blogged before, if Thumper came from a start up, it would be worth a billion...     

So today we also announced the next product in our storage server family - Thor, or the Sun Fire X4540, starting at ~$22,000 USD list and available this month.  

Let's look at the specs of these two systems to see what we have upgraded.  The key value of a storage server (for me at least) is that you can replace multiple servers and disk arrays with just a couple of these systems for better performance and lower costs (saves on footprint and power costs) - and you can repurpose these systems into any storage application or solution you need over time:  

 Sun Fire X4500 (Thumper)
 Sun Fire X4540 (Thor)
2 dual-core AMD Opteron 2 quad-core AMD Opteron Doubled
I/O Bandwidth
2 PCI-x @ 8.5Mb/s
3 PCI-e @ 16Mb/s
16GB DDR-1
64GB DDR-2
Bootable Disk Slots
2 boot slots
4 boot slots
Rack Size

Complete Open Storage Portfolio:  Today's announcement helps complete all the components Sun if offering for an innovative, flexible and game-changing new storage architecture - from the storage application layer, to the storage platform, to the disk, tape and upcoming Flash/SSD hardware.  

For more information on today's announcements, click on the info below: 

Also be sure to check out the two recent Open Storage White Papers we have authored - What is Open Storage?  and Open Storage Adoption


Hi Taylor,

It is great to see the Open Storage initiative from Sun Microsystems. I have read whitepapers from Sun about Open Storage. One thing confuses me. Could J4000 JBOD's be used with any storage controllers like Adaptec, LSI etc apart from Sun StorageTek? The reason I ask is because Sun RAID HBA datasheet says it is support only on Sun Servers - not sure what this "support" really means. Does it mean Sun has tested it only with Sun Servers? If that is the case then how does this become Open Storage? Also, I noticed that the data sheet for the Sun RAID HBA exactly matches the features that Adaptec RAID HBA offers.

Sun RAID HBA datasheet says it does not support Windows Server 2008. But if a customer wants to use Sun J4000 JBODs in their hardware mix could they use any SAS RAID controllers? For example, if Adaptec 5085 is used on a Custom/Dell/HP servers will the J4000 JBOD work with it? Will Sun still support the JBOD and carry the same warranty? This is not clear on the website. I would appreciate if you could address these concerns.


Posted by Raman on September 18, 2008 at 01:26 PM MDT #

Hi Taylor, I've read alot about the x4540 and am a little confused.

Does the x4540 add the capability to attach disk to multiple servers?

For example, I have 2 v215's and would like to share disk between the 2 for oracle RAC. Can I connect 1 x4540 with 24t of disk to 2 v215's?

Posted by Richard Mendoza on April 24, 2009 at 04:09 AM MDT #

Richard, as far as I know, the x4540 can attach the disk to multiple servers, but I haven't tried it.

Posted by Logicalis HP Servers on April 21, 2010 at 05:24 AM MDT #

Richard, as far as I know, the x4540 can attach the disk to multiple servers, but I haven't tried it.

Posted by Logicalis HP Servers on April 21, 2010 at 05:27 AM MDT #

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