Introduction

The Sun T2000 server, based on the UltraSparc T1 CPU, sparks our curiosity. For years, x86 servers have been gobbling up the server market share fast, forcing the RISC vendors – who don’t have the same economies of scale – to retreat to niche markets. First, the low end market was completely overrun, and right now, Xeons and Opterons are on their way to dominate the mid-range market too.

It is, however, clear from reading the T2000 server documentation that Sun hopes that the T1 CPU and the T2000 server can turn the x86 tide. The documentation files contain many references to the x86 competition, which indicate how the T1 outshines the x86 competition.

No, this is not a server and Sparc CPU that must keep Sun’s current position among the RISC vendors safe. This is an ambitious effort to take back some of the lost server market.

Indeed, since the introduction of the new UltraSparc T1, Sun is bursting with ambition:

“The Sun Fire T2000 Server marks the dawn of a new era in network computing, by allowing customers to break through limitations of capacity, space and cooling.”

If Sun’s own benchmarks are accurate, it is no exaggeration to call the T2000 a server with a revolutionary CPU. Sun claims that this 72 W eight core, 32-thread CPU can outperform the power hungry (200-400W) quad IBM Power 5, Intel Xeon and the AMD Opteron machines in many server applications.

However, there is no substitute for independent benchmarks. So, we proudly present you our first experiences with Sun’s T2000. Note the phrase, “first experiences”, as there is still a lot of benchmarking going on in our labs. We are only scratching the surface in the first part, but rest assured that we’ll show you much more soon.

In this first part of our T2000 review, we look at the T2000 as a heavy Solaris, Apache, MySQL and PHP web server or SAMP web server. We also take a look at the performance of a single T1 Sparc core, to get an idea of how powerful each individual core is.

We are working on a JSP web server benchmark and there are several database benchmarks also in progress.

Introducing the T2000 server
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  • drw - Friday, March 24, 2006 - link

    Based on the kernel versions listed, I assume that a 32-bit distro was used?

    If so, am curious how a 64-bit distro would compare, as both Apache and MySQL benefit greatly by 64 bit.
    Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Friday, March 24, 2006 - link

    Fully 64 bit. uname -a clearly indicates 64 bit Reply
  • defter - Friday, March 24, 2006 - link

    quote:

    At first sight, Sun has won the performance/watt battle for now


    Dual Opteron 275HE had 5% higher power consumpion (198W vs 188W), but it was 5-30% faster (depending wherever or not gzip was used). These results would suggest that dual Opteron has won performance/watt battle in this benchmarks.

    Pricing is also quite important. What's the price for dual Opteron 275HE server with 8GB of memory? About $5000-7000?
    Reply
  • PeterMobile - Friday, March 24, 2006 - link

    Definitely interesting to see a 3. party review of the T2000. I think it could also be interesting to compare both the Sun machine and the x86 servers to an IBM p5 510Q. That's a 4-way 1.5 GHz Power5+, which including 4 GB RAM and 2 Ultra320 disks lists for $8,536. Reply
  • Calin - Friday, March 24, 2006 - link

    I saw there is almost no loss of performance for compressing data... how about encrypting it? Reply
  • cxl - Friday, March 24, 2006 - link

    quote:


    The very common ADD instruction is executed in one cycle, but it takes no less than 29 cycles to multiply and 104 to divide. Faster mul and division would have taken up much more die space and consumed much more power. Considering that those instructions are very rare in most server workloads, this is a pretty clever trade-off.


    Actually, MOD operation can be very important for servers, as it is basis for any hashing operations, commonly used in many server applications. E.g. to identify variable in a script, interpreters routinely use hashtables.

    114 cycles per MOD operation is performance disaster.
    Reply
  • Calin - Friday, March 24, 2006 - link

    The performance in the tested configuration was quite good - I wonder how other benchmarks and maybe other "twists" of the benchmark tested would look like. Reply
  • cosmotic - Friday, March 24, 2006 - link

    quote:

    Last, but certainly least, Sun’s solid engineering has impressed us.


    Did you mean certainly NOT least?
    Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Friday, March 24, 2006 - link

    definitely ... Fixed. Just checking if you read it carefully :-) Reply
  • cosmotic - Friday, March 24, 2006 - link

    Why no graphs? It makes reading benchmarks SO much easier. Reply

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