Introduction

An interesting policy inside Sun is that you retain your badge number for life. Andy Bechtolsheim retained badge ID #1 at Sun, even after he went on to found Granite Systems and Magma Design Automation. Andy's golden touch extended out to several small companies including a promising little search engine called "Google" as well as academia with Andy's investments into Carnegie-Mellon Universities WCC campus. What does this have to do with Sun's new servers? Well, Andy has some pretty big plans for Sun these days.

Eighteen months ago, Andy's return to Sun marked the company's Renaissance of new ideas, strategies and philosophies. Everything about Sun is getting a new image, from company motto all the way down to the entry level server designs. Mr. Bechtolsheim is personally responsible for the company's drive towards x64 and x86 processors; the V40z, V20z and W2000z were all children of his push for lower cost servers that relied on efficiency and innovation. Given that Andy only had 6 months to get the initial Opteron servers and workstations online, there wasn't much time to develop everything from scratch, which is why the older Sun x64 workstations and servers are mostly based on Newisys designs and components.

Today is the first x64 server for Sun that is totally unlike anything else on the market. While today is also the mark of Sun's Galaxy server line, the SunFire X2100 model (code named "Aquarius") that we are looking at today will become Sun's entry level sub-$1000 server. Vertical markets will be able to use the Aquarius as a completely storage-less application node, while horizontal markets will be able to use the X2100 as a low cost, high density application or web server. We have some upcoming analyses of the Galaxy lineup, but today, we are very excited to bring the first look at Sun's entry level "Aquarius", or SunFire X2100.

What is Aquarius?
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  • allanw - Tuesday, September 13, 2005 - link

    The two hard drives can be set up for RAID 0, 1 or 0+1 via the BIOS.

    I don't get it. How do you do raid 0+1 with only two drives?
    Reply
  • Deinonych - Wednesday, September 14, 2005 - link

    You can't. RAID 0+1 requires a minimum of 4 drives. Reply
  • stephenbrooks - Tuesday, September 13, 2005 - link

    Darn. I could get two of these things for less than my current desktop PC cost. (Though without graphics card etc. of course!) Reply
  • Jmonk - Tuesday, September 13, 2005 - link

    I was stoked to read the article on the X2100 because I'm currently in the market for an entry-level small business server. Doing my homework I found that other name-brand, entry-level servers were obviously too expensive for their spec's. The Small X2100 base-model ($745, no HDD, 512MB DDR, no DVD) is priced right where I'm looking at, but the spec's are relatively weak considering that I can build an equivalent 1U server (slightly faster, Athlon 64) for $475, purchased from online retailers. If I were to move up a notch to the Medium X2100, I find myself completely out of my price range.
    So is the name-brand and the 3-year warranty worth $270 extra for a somewhat weaker machine? The often heard "save money, build it yourself" suggestion is a known misconception when it comes to desktop PC's, but I was surprised to see that it's completely feasible and worthwhile in regards to servers.
    Reply
  • Furen - Tuesday, September 13, 2005 - link

    If you know how to do build it, know how to configure it and dont mind having to deal with any incompatibilities and issues yourself then go for it and build it yourself, you will save quite a bit. Personally, I think this server is pretty well priced since it's pretested, pre-assembled, in a thermally-balanced case (not that thermals are too much of a problem with K8s right now) and a decent warranty. All possible incompatibilities have already been dealt with, it also has two nice hotswapable SATA bays, a half-height 8x PCI-E slot for possible expansion and comes preconfigured with Solaris 10 (which I like, though you may not). Reply
  • Jmonk - Wednesday, September 14, 2005 - link

    Actually, the Small X2100 doesn't come with a Solaris option without additional cost.
    But you're right that there is certainly an amount of confidence with the Sun servers that neither the admin nor the owner of the company may expect with a self-built machine.
    My main point is that desktop PC's are much more affordable than self-built - pre-testing, -assembling, -OS-loading and warranties just sweeten the deal. But why aren't servers to that point?
    Reply
  • Gholam - Tuesday, September 13, 2005 - link

    The board used is Tyan Tomcat K8E, with some components like PCI slots just not soldered in. Doesn't mean it's bad - I have a server running here on that one board and an A64 4400+, and it's an excellent machine - but c'mon, give credit where it's due :) Reply
  • Ahkorishaan - Monday, September 12, 2005 - link

    I would really like to see a price point comparison between a Sun AMD, a Dell Pentium, any IBM, and any HP. I bet it would look rather interesting. Sun is indeed coming to the fore again. Reply
  • MCSim - Tuesday, September 13, 2005 - link

    Check out the Sun's NC05Q3 webcast. They are making some comparisons there. Reply
  • Deinonych - Monday, September 12, 2005 - link

    It would have been nice to see how this server stacks up against comparable offerings from IBM, HP and Dell (even though Dell doesn't offer an AMD server). Comparing it to other Sun products is nice if you only buy Sun. Reply

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