Tuesday Dec 15, 2009

Petrobras Meets Oil Production Challenges with a Sun High Performance Computing Network



The BR Network is a high-performance computing initiative funded by Brazil's national oil company, Petróleo Brasilero, and is managed by an alliance of five federal universities to support the country's oil and gas industries. After the discovery of a vast new oil field off the coast of Brazil, the BR Network was selected to develop computer simulations to aid oil production at the new site, which is under approximately two miles of ocean floor riddled with geological faults.
Sun Customer BR Network
(Image courtesy: BR Network, a Petrobras initiative)
The Alberto Luiz Coimbra Institute-Graduate School and Research in Engineering from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro realized that the alliance of universities needed a high-performance computing grid to handle the complex new project that would be both an affordable and easily expandable solution over the next few years. Ultimately, the alliance selected Sun, which not only was the vendor that would best meet the performance, scalability, and energy efficiency goals, but also cost almost 30% less than the next closest offer from a competing vendor.

The new HPC solution includes 448 Sun Blade X6275 Server Modules with the new Intel Xeon processor series 5500, Sun Blade 6048 Modular Systems, and the Lustre File System. The solution also features the first blade server with on-board QDR InfiniBand for high performance and low latency. The alliance runs the Red Hat Linux OS on a Sun open-network solution, which supports multiple operating systems. The BR Network is currently running at three universities on a grid that provides approximately 100 teraflops of peak performance and 21.5 TB of memory.

The alliance expects that the BR Network will be fully operational by February 2010 with nearly 300 researchers working on the new clusters. Sun Professional Services is providing ongoing support for the project's air-conditioning and hi-visualization environments. The Sun solution more than doubles the universities' processing speed with ample room for growth. Alvaro Coutinho, a professor at the Center for Parallel Computing and Department of Civil Engineering, COPPE/UFRJ said: “We are very excited about the scalability of our Sun HPC system. We are currently at about 100 teraflops and we are thinking of doubling or even tripling it in the next two years.”

Check out the complete details here.

Monday Oct 05, 2009

PC Pro: "X4170 undoubtedly delivers a choice specification in a well-built package"


PC Pro's Dave Mitchell recently published his review of the Sun Fire X4170, which he described as a rack server for the most demanding applications,” saying it “delivers a cracking specification,” giving the server's performance a 5 out of 6 star rating.

Dave noted that “the X4170 is well endowed in the storage department,” and also pointed to the SAS, SATA, and SSD variants available. He stated that this storage potential puts the X4170 “on a par with HP's ProLiant DL360 G6,” and said it is better than “the A-listed Dell Power Edge R610.” Dave also noted that “plenty of array options are on offer,” including RAID 6 and 60.
He highlighted the fact that “the X4170 has room to expand,” and credited Sun with being the first to embed four Gigabit ports into rack servers, saying Sun set the trend now emulated by the PowerEdge R610.” He also pointed out that the X4170 can be remotely managed with Sun's embedded ILOM chip, which uses a Fast Ethernet port and provides full KVM over IP services, “allowing the server to be controlled regardless of its condition – so as long as you have power you have access.”

Dave concluded by saying: The X4170 undoubtedly delivers a choice specification in a well-built package.”

Tuesday Sep 01, 2009

eWEEK: X4170 is a "compelling offering for data center IT managers"


eWEEK's Cameron Sturdevant recently reviewed the Sun Fire X4170 server, which he described as "a compelling offering for data center IT managers." Cameron noted that the X4170 packs “copious amounts of computer power, local storage, network bandwidth, and PCIe expansion capability into a neatly engineered, 1U footprint.”

Using eWEEK Labs' VMware vSphere 4 as a test environment, Cameron reported “the X4170 ably functioned as a virtualization host.” He highlighted X4170's carefully crafted compartmentalization and fan architecture that expels air through the top rear of the unit, thereby saving space for connectors and expansion cards on the back side.
Cameron also pointed to the flexibility offered through the X4170's smart configuration, including the three PCIe 2.0 slots and dual hot-swappable power supplies, while noting that the top lid is articulated to enable access to the fan trays without exposing the processors and memory. He also highlighted the ILOM 3.0, which he noted can be configured to be accessed via the standard network interfaces.

Cameron noted that the X4170 is a part of a family of performance- and capacity-oriented servers, and recommended it to organizations already invested in the Sun platform that need “a reliable, easy-to-service rack-mount production server for virtualization or for applications such as e-mail and file/print."

Thursday Aug 20, 2009

InfoWorld Bullish on Sun's Nehalem Servers



Sun Fire X2270 Server
Sun Fire X2270 Server

Sun Fire X4270 Server
Sun Fire X4270 Server

InfoWorld's Paul Venezia published a glowing review of the Sun Fire X2270 and Sun Fire X4270 servers, which he described as "the fastest x64 servers Sun has ever produced." The Sun Fire X2270 received an overall rating of an 8.2 (out of 10), and the Sun Fire X4270 received an 8.8, which classified both servers as “very good” on the InfoWorld scorecard.

Paul tested each server on his baseline VMware test application and in the lab, "the X2270 moved like a much more expensive system." He performed two test runs with the X2270: one with the vApp running first on a single 500GB SATA drive, and another with the VMs housed on an NFS share to a SAS array run from an Adaptec Snap Server 650. He reported "the difference was noticeable and resulted in a performance increase of around 15 percent," and concluded saying "there's a lot of power in this little package."

Paul described the X4270 as "the best of both worlds, offering the 2U form factor that adds significant expansion opportunities and a wealth of local disk options." He reported that the X4270 "performs extremely well in the VMware tests," saying "it has power and expansion to spare." He highlighted the many features of the X4270 to include the expansion bus and CompactFlash slot which lead him to declare "there's little that this box can't handle."

All in all, Paul concluded by saying "both models are impressive entries into the Nehalem-based server market." He said these solid server platforms that successfully leverage the power of the Nehalem architecture "should find a home just about anywhere."

Wednesday Aug 19, 2009

IT Pro: X4275 puts forward a strong proposition as a storage server



IT PRO's Dave Mitchell published an exclusive review of the Sun Fire X4275 server which he described as having "a sharp focus on storage hungry applications such as multimedia, data warehousing and video surveillance."

Dave took a close look at the server's build and said the X4275 has a "very tidy interior that is designed to make the most of the internal real estate." He also noted "Sun has the virtualization angle covered" with the motherboard offering an internal USB port and a CompactFlash card slot for booting an embedded hypervisor. He pointed out that "the X4275 certainly has room to grow with demand," highlighting the three riser cards in the back that offer a total of six PCI-Express 2.0 slots.

Additionally, Dave noted "the X4275 doesn't go short in the network department as it has four embedded Gigabit ports." He also reported that the X4275 was "reasonably easy on the utility supply," when tested on an inline power meter, and pointed out that the server comes with 1050W hot-plug supplies included in the price.

Dave also called out the X4275's ILOM chip, and its secure web interface which provides a status report on all critical components and their condition. All in all, Dave was pleased with the build quality as well as the solid three-year on-site warranty. He concluded by saying: "The X4275 puts forward a strong proposition as a storage server as it has a high potential capacity and plenty of room to expand."

Sunday Jul 05, 2009

ZDNet Review: "X4275 is an excellent all-rounder"


ZDNet's Craig Simms evaluated Sun's newest 2RU Nehalem-based Sun Fire X4275 server, focusing his evaluation on the design, architecture and performance aspects of the unit he tested.

The reviewer began with a rundown of hardware design features and system specifications. Specifically, he called out the two Xeon E5540 "Gainestown" CPUs with four physical cores each.

"With a Hyperthreading-aware OS, though, it presents itself as capable of handling 16 threads, resulting in a task manager likely to create a bit of envy," he noted. Craig also highlighted the vast configuration, OS and service options available for the server.

Overall, Craig was quite pleased with the X4275. His verdict: "Sun Microsystem's Sun Fire X4275 is an excellent all-rounder that can be custom-specced to suit most small-to-medium-business needs. Whether you need to apply yourself with some dense storage or just need the compute power of 16 cores, its flexibility is commendable."
Sun Fire X4275 Server

Wednesday Apr 29, 2009

Sun Fire X2270 Server Review in IT Pro


Sun Fire X2270 Server

IT Pro's Dave Mitchell reviewed the Sun Fire X2270, the new Intel Xeon 5500 processor based server, giving it a four out of six star rating and noting Sun's support for the processor ahead of HP and IBM. Dave said, "Sun's new 1U rack server delivers a good specification for the price, which includes Intel's latest Xeon 5500 processors and a good helping of DDR3 memory."

Dave noted that the "X2270 targets a wide range of applications and projects such as HPC and web services," as well as "some other interesting storage possibilities for this server as the embedded ICH10R controller provides six SATA channels."

The secure web interface and remote server management were highlighted as positive features in the review, with Dave saying the interface was "easy to use and opens with a status report on all critical components and their status," and the remote management was called "up with the best as the X2270 comes with Sun's embedded ILOM (integrated lights out management)."

In conclusion, Dave's review was positive for overall value and it highlighted X2270 as a strong product offering ahead of HP and IBM.

Tuesday Apr 14, 2009

Now Available: Sun's Open Network Systems Powered by Nehalem


Today we announced the latest Open Network Systems from Sun.

John's perspective:

"Today's IT customer is looking for three things - speed, simplicity and savings. With Sun's Open Network Systems approach, we're integrating our networking advancements, our system expertise, and our core IP and innovative designs to transform commodity components into entirely new platforms with breakthrough application performance, efficiency and scale," said John Fowler, executive vice president, Systems Group, Sun Microsystems. "Our new x64 systems with breakthrough networking technologies, advanced thermal management, open software stacks and Open Storage enhancements will give the datacenter an extreme makeover, revealing new efficiencies and maximizing IT investment."

Dimitrios Dovas, Director of Product Management, x64 Volume Systems, joined me to talk about Sun's latest Open Network Systems products powered by Intel Xeon Processor 5500 Series (aka Nehalem). Listen to the short segment below for the highlights.

Sun Fire X4170 Server

Monday Mar 30, 2009

Now Available: Solaris Platform Optimized for Nehalem


Today we announced that the Solaris platform, including the Solaris 10 OS and OpenSolaris, has been optimized to provide performance, energy efficiency and reliability enhancements for the new Intel Xeon processor 5500 series, formerly code named Nehalem.
OpenSolaris
Herbert Hinstorff, Director of Datacenter Software Business Management at Sun, joined me to talk about Sun and Intel working closely during the Nehalem chip development process to optimize the Solaris platform for the processor.

Listen to the short segment below to learn how some of the Nehalem features can be taken advantage of only in the Solaris platform.


Friday Oct 03, 2008

Computerworld praises Sun Fire X4150 server's flexibility for data center buyers


In a second review of the Sun Fire X4150 Server, MC Brown discusses its "sweet spot" for current buyers.

MC traces how purchases evolved from small add-on servers, to massive server infrastructure, and now to efficient uses of hardware through consolidation. With this in mind, MC said, "Whether the X4150 hits the sweet spot depends on your point of view, but I'm finding it really hard not to justify a machine with this flexibility to anybody who wants a decent machine."

Regarding specific features, MC complimented the X4150 by saying, "At 1U high you could fit a lot of computing power into a cabinet. With two quad-core Xeons there's plenty of CPU power, and 64GB of RAM gives you plenty of memory to play with. The 8 SAS drives are also enough for you to have a system disk, and a 5 or 6 disk RAID configuration of your choice with one or two hot spares."

MC noted that with this "wealth of potential" in options, he tried several different configurations, but his favorite was using the X4150 as a consolidation box.

Overall, MC concluded that the X4150 provides a high level of flexibility, specifically noting, "flexibility like that in the modern datacenter is a must." Using the server's variety of options, "you can choose a variety of configurations to suit your needs, and if you decide to change your mind, you can do so without changing your hardware, just redeploy it."
Sun Fire X4150 Server

Monday Sep 08, 2008

ZDNet Australia's big thumbs-up for X4450 server


ZDNet Australia's Michael Palamountain reviewed Sun Fire X4450 server and said, "for raw power Sun Microsystems' Sun Fire X4450 is the gutsiest server we've seen."

The server tested well for cooling fans and energy consumption, as well as software and application suites. The server was loaded with Solaris 10 OS and Michael found navigation straight-forward and logical.

For the application suite, Michael called the pre-loaded options a "veritable roll-call of major open source applications (for which Sun has often had major developmental input)."

Michael commented that the equivalent products from competitors, such as the IBM x3850 and a Dell R900, "are both 4 RU machines (the Sun Fire is just 2 RU in size), yet Sun manages to pack just as much inside the case."

Conclusion from the review: The benchmark results for the Sun Fire X4450 are "the best we have seen in high-end servers -- particularly the Sungard score -- although we cannot claim to have tested such a machine with specs quite like this before."

So check one out for yourself...
Sun Fire X4450 Server

Monday Jul 14, 2008

InformationWeek loves Sun Fire X4150 server...


This week's print issue of InformationWeek has a very positive review of Sun Fire X4150 server.

Jeff Ballard examined this 1U powerhouse and wrote, "The Sun Fire X4150 delivers the goods with 16 DIMM slots, three PCI-e slots, and dual quad-core Intel Harpertown processors. The X4150 supports up to 64 GB of memory and sports four Gigabit Ethernet slots, double what is offered by the Dell 1950, IBM x3550, and HP DL360."

Jeff provided an excellent overview of the product, digging deep into the key features of processor, memory and expansion capabilities of the X4150. He wrote, "Sun crams a lot of gear into this 1U device. To put it in perspective, a standard rack can hold as many as 40 of these servers. Thus, a rack full of the units as we tested would give you a whopping 320 processor cores, 320 hot-swappable hard drives, 640 DIMM slots, 120 PCI-E slots, and 160 Gigabit Ethernet connections."

Jeff's conclusion: "With all of its disks configured as RAID 60, the X4150 would make an excellent compact database server, video server, virtualization platform, or other data-critical machine. Even without its disks, the X4150 is a powerhouse of performance in a small profile."

Sun Fire X4150 Server

Monday May 26, 2008

AnandTech's Sun Fire X4450 Server Review


On the heels of a good InfoWorld review of Sun Fire X4150 server, AnandTech has published a positive review of Sun Fire X4450 server.

In this detailed 8-page review, AnandTech essentially concluded that X4450 is a 2U server that offers the same features and performance as the 4U servers from competition. In their tests, they found X4450 has better serviceability, 17% to 26% more power efficiency over a comparable solution, 7% to 18% better in performance, lower 3-year TCOs (in 2 different ways of measurement), and great pricing via Try-&-Buy program.

The reviewer, Johan De Gelas, has best summed it up in the conclusion:
Sun Fire X4450 Server
"IBM and HP better take notice: Sun has thrown down the proverbial gauntlet. We would be happy to review HP and IBM systems, but we think it will be very difficult to beat the Sun Fire X4450 ...

Unless HP, Dell, or IBM comes out quickly with an appropriate reply, we feel Sun has a winner here. Sun's aggressive pricing helps, but it is the exceptional hardware design that makes the difference. This 2U server is able to deliver the same performance and 95% of the expandability of the 4U competition, and it is easier to maintain than any of those bulky boxes are. We experienced it first hand, as we are used to working with Dell boxes. Lower power, a pretty face, but especially the "try and buy program" top it off: the Sun X4450 is ahead of the pack. Here's to hoping this will create a new wave of innovation throughout the x86 server world."

So check one out...

Saturday Oct 27, 2007

Links of the week...


1. Sun Launches Intel Workstation on X38 Platform -- ZDNet, 10/24
In this blog, George Ou positively discusses the recent release of the Ultra 24 and the different features that it comes along with. He explains that the Ultra 24 comes with a Solaris license but also supports a wide range of operating systems. He also explains that even though he has not reviewed the workstation hands on yet, "the prices look decent for a brand-name workstation and the hardware specifications look good."

2. The Open Office Experiment -- SoapBox 2.0, 10/22
This blogger writes about OpenOffice being alternative to Microsoft Office. He explains that he has never been able to use this office suite because he is primarily a Mac user and wants to work with a word processor that will run seemingly across his OS. He now has an opportunity through NeoOffice and is going to do all word processing and spreadsheet work through this office suite and write about his experience.

Thursday Oct 25, 2007

Sun Ultra 24 gets glowing reviews from InfoWorld and eWEEK


Sun Ultra 24 Workstation
Two glowing reviews of Sun Ultra 24 Workstation have appeared since I wrote two days ago about the availability of this new Intel-based workstation.

InfoWorld's Paul Venezia examined the new workstation and ran a slew of tests. Sun Ultra 24 came out with flying colors on each occasion. According to Paul, "At first blush, I figured the Ultra 24 to be just another small, workstation-class system that would be good for those who need a little extra horsepower from time to time, but aren't running high-end apps that need a full-blown workstation. After putting it through its paces, I'm thinking that it just might fit both bills. Don't let the size and single-CPU nature of the Ultra 24 fool you -- there's a lot of power in that little box."

eWEEK's Frank Ohlhorst also put the Ultra 24 workstation through it paces, and he is extremely positive as well with what he found. According to Frank, "Sun undoubtedly has a winner with the Ultra 24 series of workstations, and other vendors will be hard-pressed to outperform it. What's more, the Ultra 24 proves that quality is still a valuable asset when it comes to workstations. The unit is built like a tank, yet offers toolless access to components. The company has successfully balanced quality with ease of service, while still offering unquestionable performance."
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