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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  • JackPack - Friday, March 24, 2006 - link

    Pleasant to read as usual, Johan.

    BTW, are they letting you keep the T2000?
    http://blogs.sun.com/roller/page/jonathan?entry=ni...">http://blogs.sun.com/roller/page/jonathan?entry=ni...
    Reply
  • PandaBear - Friday, March 24, 2006 - link

    In terms of Branded server it is a good price, but as benchmark have shown, a Dual Opteron running Linux both perform better and use less power. I think people who buy these class of server want support and service (and build quality) and in that case Sun certain would win the whitebox builder no matter how good a Dual Opteron is.

    Nonetheless it is a good product, for the one who demand this kind of quality. Now Intel's solution really looks bad.
    Reply
  • Calin - Friday, March 24, 2006 - link

    I don't know what you are talking about - if you would up the memory on the Opteron HE (2CPU of 2 cores) to 32GB, the power consumption would be almost the same (assuming 6W per 4GB of RAM, it would be at 234W. Close enough to be considered equal, I'd say.
    Also, wouldn't populating all the possible memory slots on the Opteron decrease a bit its performance? I don't know about Opteron, but Athlon64 decrease its command rate (Help, Johan! :) ) when working with all the memory channels filled.
    I agree about the better performance of the Opteron server, but regarding the power use, it is the same as the Sun's recent offering. Maybe the introduction of the DDR2 Opterons would change the power envelope, but until then, the T1 might have some aces up its sleeve
    Reply
  • JohanAnandtech - Friday, March 24, 2006 - link

    You must calculate about 4-5 Watt per 2 GB Dimm. Based on the measurements I did and slightly guessing I think a 32 GB Opteron HE with 32 GB would definitely consume more than The T2000 as also have to count a few Watts per memory channel.

    Indeed, fully loaded DIMM channels will probably throttle back to lower speeds. I am not sure about Command rate though (BTW, it increases on the Athlon 64 not decreases :-), as it is possible less important with buffered DIMMs.

    About performance, we still have to test a lot of scenario's (jsp, databases). The impression of the T2000 might still change.
    Reply
  • Zoomer - Sunday, April 09, 2006 - link

    2xx Opterons use rigistered ram, so its not an issue like with the 1xx 939s. Reply
  • Calin - Friday, March 24, 2006 - link

    I just took the difference measured between the 2xOpteron HE with 4 and 8 GB or RAM (192 and 198W), shown in the table on the last page. I know that even rounding errors might change that between 4 and 8W, but anyway, Opterons won't use less power than the T1.
    Very interesting article, and I eagerly await for the sequels :D
    Reply

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