Sun's newest server: Dynamite comes in small packages
Sun Blade 6000 offers plenty of bang for the buckFollow @pvenezia
Late last year, I conducted an exhaustive test of Dell, HP, and Sun blade systems at InfoWorld's Hawaii labs. Everyone brought the big boxes, and we ran them through their paces using the SPEChpc benchmark suite. It was a great test that produced some unexpected results -- namely, the Dell blades took a surprising victory over both Sun and HP.
In those tests, Sun brought its massive Sun Blade 8000 system, which is a 12U, 10-slot chassis that runs four-socket blades. The other participants brought their biggest units, but those used two-socket blades. Sun's performance in that test wasn't stellar, due largely to a software issue and not hardware.
Now, however, Sun has introduced a scaled-down version of the Sun Blade 8000, dubbed the Sun Blade 6000. It's a 10-slot, 10RU chassis with two sets of redundant power supplies, and it offers the same expansion options found in the 8000 series. There are two network module slots in the rear of the chassis, slots that can hold two 10-port gigabit modules dubbed Network Express Modules. These are not network interfaces themselves, just media pass-through adapters, so the cost is very low: about $500 (list price).
In addition to these slots, each blade has two Express Module slots at the top of the chassis that can handle a variety of standard PCI-SIG cards, from dual-gigabit Ethernet to Fibre Channel and so forth. Thus, it's possible to dress up any blade with as many as six Gigabit Ethernet ports, four GigE ports and Fibre Channel connectivity, or any mix. It's a very nice feature and adds significantly to the expansion possibilities of the 6000 series.
As far as blades go, the Sun Blade 6000 offers the greatest range of any blade chassis, essentially because you can mix and match dual-socket Intel, AMD, and single-socket Sparc-based blades in the same chassis.
The X6250 Intel blades are available in dual- or quad-core versions of the Intel 5000-series CPUs, with up to 64GB of 667MHz PC2-5300 FB-DIMM (fully buffered DIMM) RAM. Inside, there are two x8 PCI Express buses and one x8 PCIe bus to each PCI interface module; two x4 PCI Express buses and one x8 PCIe bus to each Network Express Module; four 3Gb SAS interfaces standard; and eight available using the RAID expansion module. The RAID expansion modules supports SAS drives and offers RAID 0,1,5,10 support.
The X6220 Opteron-based blades share many of the same features as the Intel blades, but they're slightly older and don't offer the RAID expansion option. They can handle dual-core Opteron 2200-series CPUs and have one x8 PCI Express bus per PCI Express Module and Network Express Module. The X6220 blades offer both SAS and SATA SFF (small form factor) drive support, however.
The T6300 blades are Sparc-based and offer a single-socket multicore UltraSparc T1 CPU. It's limited to 32GB of RAM per blade, though it uses all four memory controllers in the processor. Those processors are available in a few configurations: six- or eight-core running at 1.0GHz, an eight-core 1.2GHz version, and finally an eight-core 1.4GHz UltraSparc T1 CPU. It shares the SAS/SATA SFF disk support of the X6220 but lacks RAID.