Sun, Fujitsu and Hitachi freshen server lines

Sun Microsystems and Fujitsu are introducing new servers Tuesday based on their joint venture while Hitachi Ltd. is unveiling a new blade server

Sun Microsystems and Fujitsu are introducing new servers Tuesday that they jointly developed, while another server maker, Hitachi, is unveiling new blade servers. They each aim to address buyers' dual needs for computing power and energy efficiency.

Sun and Fujitsu, who have jointly developed and marketed products for about 20 years, introduced six new servers: the T1000 and T2000 entry-level servers that run on the Sun-designed UltraSparc T1 processor; the midrange M4000 and M5000 and the high-end M8000 and M9000, all of which are powered by Fujitsu's Sparc 64 VI processor. The new servers will be offered under the Sun, Fujitsu and Fujitsu-Siemens brands. Fujitsu has a separate joint venture agreement with Siemens AG.

The entry-level models feature two quad-core processors, 64G-bytes of random access memory (RAM) and have the virtualization capability to run up to 32 virtual machines in one physical machine. The midrange models feature up to 64 dual-core sockets, processor speeds of up to 1.4G-hertz, and up to 2T-bytes of memory. The high-end servers offer 32 or 64 cores depending on the model, processing speeds of up to 2.4G-hertz, and up to 2T-bytes of memory.

The servers are available with Sun's Solaris 10 operating system. Sun guarantees that software programs designed to run on Solaris 8 or Solaris 9 will work on a Solaris 10 machine.

The new Sun and Fujitsu introductions seem to be "an installed base play," rather than a bid for new customers, said Vernon Turner, group vice president and general manager of enterprise computing at IDC.

"For some customers this is a way of saying 'We love Sparc, but what we want is something that is competitive in terms of performance and probably price as well,'" said Turner.

Hitachi is investing more in the blade server format with a follow-up to the BladeSymphony 1000, which it introduced in November 2006. The new BladeSymphony 320 differs from the 1000 in that it only comes with Intel's Xeon dual-core or quad-core processors, not Intel's Itanium processor.

The 320 also is available with a 110-volt power option, which means the server can run simply by plugging it into a standard U.S. electrical outlet.

"They don't need the raised floor design or an air conditioning system of a data center," said Steve Campbell, vice president of marketing in the Server Systems Group of Hitachi Americas.

The 320 is targeted at small to medium businesses that maybe don't have a huge data center but still have enough rack servers that they might want to upgrade to more compact blade servers to consolidate the number of servers, save room and the cut energy usage, said Campbell.

Hitachi's server sales trail those of high volume vendors such as Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Dell, said IDC's Turner, so selling a server that can plug into an electrical outlet is a way for Hitachi to get noticed.

"It think it's something that they have looked at and said, 'How can we differentiate ourselves on engineering as much as possible?'" said Turner.

Pricing for the 320 isn't official but Campbell estimated it would start at $US10,000.

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