Monday, July 17, 2006

Niagara 2 chip - up and running already

CNET's is reporting that Sun's Niagara 2 chip boots Solaris. This is at least 3 months ahead of schedule, and signals that Sun's throughput computing initiative is working well.

Niagara 2 will have 8 chip "cores" each running 8 threads (tasks). Niagara 1 runs the same number of cores, but only 4 threads per core. Competitors like HP and IBM have criticized Niagara 1 for its slow performance at floating point calculations. But Niagara 2 will have much faster floating point capabilities - with a floating point unit for each of its 8 cores.

The bigger news from a sales point of view is that a server with two Niagara 2 chips is planned. This would run a huge 128 threads (i.e. tasks) simultaneously. When set to work on web tier workloads, this specification simply blows away the competition - especially when you take the power consumption (70 watts per chip) and small size into account.

Sun's R&D is certainly shining!

Thursday, July 13, 2006

"Blades done right" - AMD CEO

At Tuesday's launch event, AMD CEO Hector Ruiz said of the new Sun Blade 8000 modular system it's "blades done right". By this he meant he was witnessing a blade chassis that supported every kind of IO (input/output), 8 core blade CPU modules, and enough cooling and power for the next 5 years of upgrades. Finally it looks like Sun might make a dent into IBM and HP's blade marketplace.

Similarly the exciting new X4500 "Thumper" storage server, and the new X4600 16-way AMD Opteron server are proving Sun's strategy to be wise. Although the X4500 could theoretically run Windows or Linux, the huge benefit of running Solaris is that is makes use of Sun's revolutionary file system technology called ZFS. For many years companies have used RAID to prevent data loss, but ZFS goes an extra mile to ensure data integrity and performance. Similarly, the X4600 server runs Windows and Linux, but by using Solaris the customer benefits from an operating system that was always designed for SMP (symmetric multiprocessing) workloads.

Sun is proving that innovation at both the hardware and software levels can dovetail into truly unique products without competition. As shareholders, let's hope the market gets the message!