Sun Intros Nehalem Servers At Partner Conference

blade flash memory

Sun used its solution provider summit, held this week in Las Vegas, to lift the curtain on the servers.

Sun is the last of the tier-one vendors to unveil Nehalem-based servers. Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Dell, Intel and other server vendors unveiled their lines on March 30.

Apple followed with its Nehalem server line on April 7.

Sun unveiled seven servers specifically designed to eliminate the I/O bottleneck between the hard drive and memory to increase performance, said Dimitris Dovas, director of product management for Sun's x64 servers and blades.

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To eliminate the bottleneck, Sun added a nonremovable flash memory on which application data can be kept for fast access, Dovas said. "It's nonremovable, which is important for governments and other organizations with strict security needs," he said.

Sun has also included the ability to add a solid state drive on which to store data that requires fast access, Dovas said.

The goal of the flash memory and solid state drive layers is to eliminate server bottlenecks and make servers more efficient, Dovas said.

"We're taking the technology that everyone has access to and building value-added solutions for customers," he said. "This is what all the vendors should be doing."

All seven of Sun's new Nehalem-based products have solid state drives and are flash-ready, while three of them already include both technologies, Dovas said.

Among Sun's Nehalem servers are two new rackmount units, a new 4U Web server, a server for Web and high-performance computing clusters, a model with up to 12 TB of raw storage, a workstation supporting Nvidia's FX5800 graphics processor, and a blade server module.

To improve network performance with the new servers, Sun is offering two new technologies, Dovas said.

The first is the Virtual NEM, or Network Express Module. This 10-Gbit Ethernet module virtualizes the network with 40 preconfigured logical devices for plug-and-play use and requires no management, Dovas said. Based on a proprietary Sun chip, it has a price-performance ratio better than one-fourth that of any switch in other server vendors' portfolios, Dovas said.

The other is a quad data rate InfiniBand MEM that allows Sun's server blades to connect to InfiniBand networks, he said.

To help reduce data center power use, Sun modified its Solaris operating system to interface with Nehalem's power management technology, Dovas said.

Also new is a door to put on the back of server racks that cools the servers without the need for extra floor space. One model of the door uses chilled water, while the other model uses chilled air, Dovas said.

The new servers, modules and cooling doors are available for shipment, Dovas said.