ZDNet Asia Reviews Sun Fire X4270 and Sun Fire X4275 Servers
Writing in ZDNet Asia, Alan Stevens describes the 2U Sun Fire X4270 and Sun Fire X4275 servers. He notes that they are essentially the same machines, with exactly the same chassis, identical motherboards, processor and memory options. The only real difference is in the storage: the X4270 has sixteen 2.5in. hot-swap drive bays, whereas the X4275 offers twelve 3.5in. drive bays and a choice of drives in capacities up to 2TB per spindle.
He adds that SATA, SAS and SSD storage can be specified for both configurations (SSD is limited to just 32GB per drive), with an LSI-derived RAID controller included in the spec as standard.
The common motherboard features the usual dual socket arrangement with processors next to each other and the RAM in two banks on either side, Stevens writes. He points out the 18 DIMM slots that make it possible to fit up to 144GB. He notes that, in common with all Xeon 5500 systems, both processor sockets need to be occupied in order to be able to use a full complement of RAM.
According to Stevens, Sun has not altered the Sun chassis much from previous models, adding a useful lift-up flap to access the six variable-speed hot-swap fans and, at the rear, a pair of redundant power supplies rated at 1050W.
The review describes the networking as being handled by a pair of Broadcom controllers linked to a set of four Gigabit Ethernet ports, also on the back panel, while further expansion is possible via a set of six PCI Express slots located on risers inside the 2U Sun Fire chassis.
Available as an option on a CompactFlash card is an embedded hypervisor. An internal USB port is also provided and support for faster flash DIMMs may be added on future models. VMware is the hypervisor of choice, but users can boot from others if need be, and the hardware is certified for use with all the leading virtualization platforms, including Microsoft's Hyper-V, Stevens points out.
Steven writes that these Sun Fire servers hold their own against the competition in terms of management options as well, providing an on-board management controller known as the Integrated Lights Out Manager (ILOM). Using the same processor as other Sun Fire systems, this features a dedicated Fast Ethernet port but can also be accessed in-band over the data network if preferred, Stevens observes.
Sun provides support for web-based graphical remote control and virtual media mapping come as standard features on these severs, and users can also cycle the power remotely using the ILOM interface. The one reservation Stevens expresses involves a lack in the power management and capping features found on HP's ProLiant servers, but tools to address this and add other options are also due to be released in a no-charge software upgrade (ILOM 3.0) due out shortly, he adds.
Sun's own management platform, called Sun xVM Ops Center, can be used to manage both x86- and RISC-based servers. This delivers tools to discover and remotely provision bare-metal systems, as well as automate patch-management tasks, monitor server health and report on system compliance. Stevens notes that to implement this requires a host system running either Solaris or Linux. In addition, the software can only be used to manage Sun servers at present, rather than those from other vendors.
Users can choose to run the Solaris 10 OS or the OpenSolaris implementation on any of the new Sun Fire rack servers. There is also full support for Windows Server 2003/2008 and both the Red Hat and SUSE Linux distributions, plus full certification for VMware, the reviewer points out.
eWeek Reviews Sun Fire X4170 Servers
A review of the Sun Fire X4170 Server written for eWeek.com by Cameron Sturdevant observes that Intel Xeon-based Sun Fire x4170 is proving to be a serious competitor in its market space. The server, he writes, packs generous amounts of compute power, local storage, network bandwidth and PCIe expansion capability into a small footprint.
Sturdevant notes the family resemblance between the X4170 and the 2U X4270 servers, sharing as it does the same basic chassis, which makes it attractive to organizations that are invested in the Sun platform and need a reliable, easy-to-service rack-mount production server for virtualization or for applications such as e-mail and file/print.
The eWeek review notes that the x4170 is situated in a densely competitive space that includes the HP DL360 G6, the Dell R610 and the IBM x3550 M2. These two-socket workhorse systems vary primarily in the amount of RAM, disk drives and expansion slots they can accommodate. However, as they all can use the Intel Xeon 5500 family of CPUs, their compute performance will vary only slightly, Sturdevant concludes.
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