Last of the red hot Sun servers

Sun's fast and cheap Nehalem-powered Sun Fire X2270 and Sun Fire X4270 promise to put some sizzle into Oracle's hardware business

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The test is built with nine vCPUs on purpose, in order to eclipse the eight physical cores present in the servers under test. Also, the static/dynamic call ratio, though randomized, is seeded to bring all boxes to a maximum load equal to the number of vCPUs in each box. The VMs communicate across an internal vSwitch, with only the load balancer directly linking to the lab network. All load generation was driven from ab, the Apache benchmarking tool, running 100,000 requests per test pass, 20 concurrent connections.

Slim and speedy

The X2270 is big on CPU and RAM but short on most other assets. In keeping with the Nehalem design, it can address up to 96GB of DDR3 RAM across 12 DIMM slots. It has "just" four hot-swap 3.5-inch SATA drive bays up front, two Gigabit Ethernet ports rather than the "normal" four that most Sun servers can claim, and a single PCIe 2.0 16x low-profile expansion slot, all backed up by one 600W power supply. It does include the Sun ILOM for remote management, with full graphical support out of the box.

In the lab, the X2270 moved like a much more expensive system. I did two test runs: one with the vApp running first on a single 500GB SATA drive, then another with the VMs housed on an NFS share to a SAS array run from an Adaptec Snap Server 650. The difference was noticeable and resulted in a performance increase of around 15 percent. With the single local disk against a RAID 5 array of SAS drives on the filer, this isn't surprising. In fact, applications that are more disk I/O intensive should show an even greater performance increase.

There's lots of power in this little package. The only downsides are the two Gigabit Ethernet interfaces, rather than Sun's normal allotment of four, and the lack of a redundant power option. In many applications, a server like this will need more than two Ethernet interfaces, and redundant power is always a plus. But for raw cost/performance, the X2270 is a very good deal.

Big on the inside

The X4270 uses 2.5-inch SAS, SATA, or solid-state drives instead of 3.5-inch SATA drives, allowing Sun to pack 16 hot-swap drive bays into its 2U chassis. It's almost out of necessity that the X4270 also has an integrated RAID controller that can handle RAID levels 0, 1, 5, 10, and 50.

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Sun Fire X2270
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Sun Fire X4270
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