Archive for the ‘Hardware Reviews’ Category

PC Pro: “X4170 undoubtedly delivers a choice specification in a well-built package”

October 5, 2009

PC Pro’s Dave Mitchell recently published his review of the Sun Fire X4170, which he described as a rack server for the most demanding applications,” saying it “delivers a cracking specification,” giving the server’s performance a 5 out of 6 star rating.

Dave noted that “the X4170 is well endowed in the storage department,” and also pointed to the SAS, SATA, and SSD variants available. He stated that this storage potential puts the X4170 “on a par with HP’s ProLiant DL360 G6,” and said it is better than “the A-listed Dell Power Edge R610.” Dave also noted that “plenty of array options are on offer,” including RAID 6 and 60.

He highlighted the fact that “the X4170 has room to expand,” and credited Sun with being the first to embed four Gigabit ports into rack servers, saying Sun set the trend now emulated by the PowerEdge R610.” He also pointed out that the X4170 can be remotely managed with Sun’s embedded ILOM chip, which uses a Fast Ethernet port and provides full KVM over IP services, “allowing the server to be controlled regardless of its condition – so as long as you have power you have access.”

Dave concluded by saying: The X4170 undoubtedly delivers a choice specification in a well-built package.”

eWEEK: X4170 is a “compelling offering for data center IT managers”

September 1, 2009

eWEEK’s Cameron Sturdevant recently reviewed the Sun Fire X4170 server, which he described as "a compelling offering for data center IT managers." Cameron noted that the X4170 packs “copious amounts of computer power, local storage, network bandwidth, and PCIe expansion capability into a neatly engineered, 1U footprint.”

Using eWEEK Labs’ VMware vSphere 4 as a test environment, Cameron reported “the X4170 ably functioned as a virtualization host.” He highlighted X4170’s carefully crafted compartmentalization and fan architecture that expels air through the top rear of the unit, thereby saving space for connectors and expansion cards on the back side.
Cameron also pointed to the flexibility offered through the X4170’s smart configuration, including the three PCIe 2.0 slots and dual hot-swappable power supplies, while noting that the top lid is articulated to enable access to the fan trays without exposing the processors and memory. He also highlighted the ILOM 3.0, which he noted can be configured to be accessed via the standard network interfaces.

Cameron noted that the X4170 is a part of a family of performance- and capacity-oriented servers, and recommended it to organizations already invested in the Sun platform that need “a reliable, easy-to-service rack-mount production server for virtualization or for applications such as e-mail and file/print."

InfoWorld Bullish on Sun’s Nehalem Servers

August 20, 2009
Sun Fire X2270 Server
Sun Fire X2270 Server
Sun Fire X4270 Server
Sun Fire X4270 Server
InfoWorld’s Paul Venezia published a glowing review of the Sun Fire X2270 and Sun Fire X4270 servers, which he described as "the fastest x64 servers Sun has ever produced." The Sun Fire X2270 received an overall rating of an 8.2 (out of 10), and the Sun Fire X4270 received an 8.8, which classified both servers as “very good” on the InfoWorld scorecard.

Paul tested each server on his baseline VMware test application and in the lab, "the X2270 moved like a much more expensive system." He performed two test runs with the X2270: one with the vApp running first on a single 500GB SATA drive, and another with the VMs housed on an NFS share to a SAS array run from an Adaptec Snap Server 650. He reported "the difference was noticeable and resulted in a performance increase of around 15 percent," and concluded saying "there’s a lot of power in this little package."

Paul described the X4270 as "the best of both worlds, offering the 2U form factor that adds significant expansion opportunities and a wealth of local disk options." He reported that the X4270 "performs extremely well in the VMware tests," saying "it has power and expansion to spare." He highlighted the many features of the X4270 to include the expansion bus and CompactFlash slot which lead him to declare "there’s little that this box can’t handle."

All in all, Paul concluded by saying "both models are impressive entries into the Nehalem-based server market." He said these solid server platforms that successfully leverage the power of the Nehalem architecture "should find a home just about anywhere."

IT Pro: X4275 puts forward a strong proposition as a storage server

August 19, 2009

IT PRO’s Dave Mitchell published an exclusive review of the Sun Fire X4275 server which he described as having "a sharp focus on storage hungry applications such as multimedia, data warehousing and video surveillance."

Dave took a close look at the server’s build and said the X4275 has a "very tidy interior that is designed to make the most of the internal real estate." He also noted "Sun has the virtualization angle covered" with the motherboard offering an internal USB port and a CompactFlash card slot for booting an embedded hypervisor. He pointed out that "the X4275 certainly has room to grow with demand," highlighting the three riser cards in the back that offer a total of six PCI-Express 2.0 slots.

Additionally, Dave noted "the X4275 doesn’t go short in the network department as it has four embedded Gigabit ports." He also reported that the X4275 was "reasonably easy on the utility supply," when tested on an inline power meter, and pointed out that the server comes with 1050W hot-plug supplies included in the price.

Dave also called out the X4275’s ILOM chip, and its secure web interface which provides a status report on all critical components and their condition. All in all, Dave was pleased with the build quality as well as the solid three-year on-site warranty. He concluded by saying: "The X4275 puts forward a strong proposition as a storage server as it has a high potential capacity and plenty of room to expand."

ZDNet Review: “X4275 is an excellent all-rounder”

July 6, 2009

ZDNet’s Craig Simms evaluated Sun’s newest 2RU Nehalem-based Sun Fire X4275 server, focusing his evaluation on the design, architecture and performance aspects of the unit he tested.

The reviewer began with a rundown of hardware design features and system specifications. Specifically, he called out the two Xeon E5540 "Gainestown" CPUs with four physical cores each.

"With a Hyperthreading-aware OS, though, it presents itself as capable of handling 16 threads, resulting in a task manager likely to create a bit of envy," he noted. Craig also highlighted the vast configuration, OS and service options available for the server.

Overall, Craig was quite pleased with the X4275. His verdict: "Sun Microsystem’s Sun Fire X4275 is an excellent all-rounder that can be custom-specced to suit most small-to-medium-business needs. Whether you need to apply yourself with some dense storage or just need the compute power of 16 cores, its flexibility is commendable."

Sun Fire X4275 Server

The Storage Architect’s Amber Road Review — Part II

May 9, 2009

Amber Road

Hybrid Storage Pool Model for Sun Storage 7000 Unified Storage System Family

In his continuing series, Chris Evans of The Storage Architect blog took another in-depth look at the Amber Road platform. In this post, he turned his sights on the disk components of the hardware, specifically looking at the use of flash (SSD) drives and ZFS to produce a commodity storage device.

Chris began with a primer on ZFS, sharing the basic concepts and bringing the filesystem features to life and what they bring to the Amber Road platform. He also provided an overview of the Unified Storage System’s cache architecture, noting the adaptive replacement cache and the ZFS intent log, and the fault tolerance and performance these features offer the 7000 series.

Chris picked up the core difference between Amber Road and traditional storage devices. "In a typical general storage array there will be LUNs presented to hosts which are very active, some moderately active and some totally inactive." He noted that Amber Road provides and alternative to the traditional "Long Tail" model, highlighting "fronting disk access with SSD ensures that high performance is dynamically provided to LUNs as it is needed."

Overall, Chris is positive about the architectural choices made for Amber Road and was unable to find fault via his evaluation. "I can say that in the testing I performed, the array coped easily with the workload I threw at it," he stated.

Chris’ next post will be an in-depth look at the analytics provided by Amber Road and how it allows detailed device reporting.

Network World’s Sun Storage 7410 Unified Storage System Review

May 7, 2009

Sun Storage 7000 Unified Storage System Series
Sun Storage 7410 Unified Storage System
Network World’s Logan Harbaugh tested the Sun Storage 7410 Unified Storage System, giving it a rating of 3.75 out of 5.0. In his review, Logan focused his evaluation on the system’s architecture, performance and business analytics, and noted that the unit "is certainly a high-performance offering."

Logan highlighted the test system’s configurations (noting the read- and write-enabled SSDs, Quad-core Opteron-based 7410 controllers, SATA drives and J4400 drive shelves) leading to a discussion of the 7410’s clustering capabilities.

The reviewer next turned his focus to the 7410’s performance. He employed IOmeter, configured with four sets of application-based workloads to simulate storage traffic. Logan noted, "Performance of the single controller system, as far as our limited test bed could verify, was excellent."

Logan also took a look at management and reporting capabilities. He commented, "the business analytics section of the GUI-based admin interface contains very useful monitoring tools, with the ability to drill down to specific interfaces, network or storage protocols."

He went on to describe that reports are available in a very wide variety of formats, with many variations. Further, he noted that reports are available for disk IO, overall storage utilization, and historical data is available and the amount of storage used for logging can be adjusted to keep data for longer or shorter periods of time.

Logan concluded, that the system is "clearly positioned – in terms of price, feature set and performance capacity – to go toe-to-toe with big systems from NetApp and EMC that are designed to support dozens of connected servers simultaneously." And regarding performance, Logan reiterated that "while we could not push the box to its capacity, we were impressed by what it could handle in our test environment."

The full review is here.

Sun Fire X2270 Server Review in IT Pro

April 30, 2009

Sun Fire X2270 Server
IT Pro’s Dave Mitchell reviewed the Sun Fire X2270, the new Intel Xeon 5500 processor based server, giving it a four out of six star rating and noting Sun’s support for the processor ahead of HP and IBM. Dave said, "Sun’s new 1U rack server delivers a good specification for the price, which includes Intel’s latest Xeon 5500 processors and a good helping of DDR3 memory."

Dave noted that the "X2270 targets a wide range of applications and projects such as HPC and web services," as well as "some other interesting storage possibilities for this server as the embedded ICH10R controller provides six SATA channels."

The secure web interface and remote server management were highlighted as positive features in the review, with Dave saying the interface was "easy to use and opens with a status report on all critical components and their status," and the remote management was called "up with the best as the X2270 comes with Sun’s embedded ILOM (integrated lights out management)."

In conclusion, Dave’s review was positive for overall value and it highlighted X2270 as a strong product offering ahead of HP and IBM.

The Storage Architect’s take on Amber Road

April 29, 2009

Amber Road
Sun Storage 7210 Unified Storage System
Chris Evans of "The Storage Architect" blog posted part one in a series of reviews of the Sun Storage 7000 Unified Storage System, saying, "Over the last month, I’ve been reviewing the 7210 array (the mid-range offering) and as an early product release, I can say I like it."

Chris framed the review against the increasing trend of centralized storage in the datacenter, and said the most unique part of the system is Sun’s use of "solid state to drive performance out of the commodity SATA drives in the array."

As part of an introduction to the product line, Chris discussed the use of highly scalable storage solutions built on commodity hardware and open software components. Compared to other vendors, Chris noted that Sun is "taking the approach of offering all current and future software features as part of the standard hardware cost. This extends to the lifetime of the technology, so as new software features are made available in future releases, the customer can simply upgrade the USS and take advantage of them at no extra cost."

Overall the reviewer was quite positive about the Sun Storage 7210, noting that Sun has differentiated its offering from other "server as a storage array" solutions. "From a hardware perspective, what’s more interesting is the use of solid state to drive performance out of the commodity SATA drives in the array," he stated.

Chris concluded by noting in his next post, he’ll be examining ZFS in more depth.

I am eagerly looking forward to the rest of the series…

Amber Road receives “Editors Choice” award in IT Pro review

April 16, 2009

Sun Storage 7000 Unified Storage System Series
Sun Storage 7410 Unified Storage System
IT Pro’s Dave Mitchell reviewed the Sun Storage 7410 and gave the unit 5 out of 6 stars and as well as an Editor’s Choice award. Dave stated, "Sun delivers a unique network storage solution with more standard features than the rest and no hidden charges."

The reviewer examined installation, configuration and noted some observations about the quad-core 2300 Opteron architecture, "this server is quite unique as it can accept an extra mezzanine tray with two more Opteron sockets making it the only 2U quad-socket AMD server on the market."

Further, Dave discussed the file system, protocol support for shares and performance. "We found real world speeds particularly good as copying a 2.52GB video clip to and from an iSCSI target returned read and write speeds of 89MB/sec and 72MB/sec. Using the FileZilla client showed FTP speeds to be even faster with it reporting impressive read and write rates of 103MB/sec and 92MB/sec. CIFS usually puts the brakes on speed but even here we saw file copies returning rates of 66MB/sec and 59MB/sec," he noted.

Overall, Dave stated, "Add up the standard features on the Sun Storage 7410 plus its hardware specification and it looks good value – especially when compared with much of the competition at this level of the market. Furthermore, along with NAS and IP SAN support, it offers a massive expansion potential and good performance across a range of protocols."