Sun expands blade line, includes Intel

Aiming for versatility, the Sun Blade 6000 Modular System features three new blade servers plus a smaller blade-server chassis. Video: Sun and Apple sharing files Video: Sun says its blades are sharper

Michael Kanellos Staff Writer, CNET News.com
Michael Kanellos is editor at large at CNET News.com, where he covers hardware, research and development, start-ups and the tech industry overseas.
Michael Kanellos
2 min read
Sun Microsystems released a bevy of blade products on Wednesday in an effort to help it better compete in the thick of the market.

In all, Sun came out with three new blade servers--its first blade servers that can utilize modern Intel Xeon processors, a blade for the UltraSparc TI "Niagara" processor, and a blade for Advance Micro Devices' Opteron processors--as well as a smaller blade server chassis. Collectively, the products are known as the Sun Blade 6000 Modular System.

Although blades represent only a fraction of the overall server market, they are one of the faster growing segments. IBM and Hewlett-Packard currently have a wide lead over other competitors in blades.

Sun's earlier blade chassis, the Sun Blade 8000, whose height measures 19U, or 19 rack units. That's 33.25 inches. The chassis accommodated Opteron-based blades and was optimized for four-processor servers. As a result, the Sun Blade 8000 was largely targeted to the upper end of the server market.

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The 6000 is more versatile and aimed at the mainstream of the server market. It measures 10U, or 17.5 inches, tall. Four of the chassis can be inserted into a server rack. Each chassis holds up to 10 blades. Thus, a completely full server rack can hold 320 processor cores and 2.5 terabytes of memory and can accommodate up to 5 terabits of data per second of input/output.

Typically, customers will buy blade systems but not fill up the server racks and chassis at the start. Instead, they buy racks and fill them up gradually. Smaller racks that can accommodate a wider variety of equipment are an easier sell.

The blades that get inserted into the 6000 hold fewer processors, which make the individual blades cheaper. The blades designed for Xeon and Opteron processors can hold two multicore processors each while the Niagara blade can hold one eight-core chip.

Technically, a 6000 blade holds as many processor cores as an 8000 blade because the 6000 blades can hold either two four-core chips or one eight-core chip, while the 8000 is designed for four two-core chips. The 8000, however, will be upgraded.

Base price for the chassis runs $4,995 while base price for the blades runs from $3,995 to $5,995, depending on the type of processor.