A Matter Of Choice: Sun Announces B3 Opteron Servers


Santa Clara (CA) -Sun joins the growing number of companies to announce servers based on AMD’s "fixed", quad-core Opteron processor with Barcelona B3 core. These new servers join Sun’s existing lineup of Intel quad-core servers and create an environment of "choice".

Some eight months later than initially expected, Sun is rolling out a family of 1U, 2U and blade servers with AMD’s quad-core Opteron servers. The offering covers eight different server models, the 1U X2200 M2, X4140, X4200 M2, X4400, the 2U models X4240, X4600 and X4440 as well as the blade server X8440. These new models offer some advantages beyond the fact that they can carry up to eight processing cores, and support, depending on the model, up to 16 memory slots and room for up to 16 SAS hard drives.

The fact that these servers are late isn’t Sun’s fault, but a result of AMD’s TLB bug and the delayed availability of a "fixed" Barcelona processor. Despite AMD’s claims that the impact of the TLB bug in the B2 Opteron is unlikely to show up in real-world applications, Sun decided to skip B2 and wait for B3. Company representatives told TG Daily that the reason for this decision was based on "performance concerns" of the B2 Barcelona chip.

Even though Sun’s success in the x86 server market is based on its decision to built Opteron-based servers, the company was able to bridge the delay of the B3 Opteron through its decision to use Intel’s quad-core processors in its server products. Sun was able to market its product to a completely new customer base that appears to prefer Intel products and claims that this business has been "incremental" to its existing AMD business. According to Sun, many buyers of AMD systems are very loyal and have not switched to Intel quad-core systems.

Interestingly, if you were to approach Sun and ask which quad-core Processor is the better chip, it is unlikely that you will be directed to a certain processor brand, at least officially. Sun told us that virtually impossible to say which processor will be faster or more power efficient in a certain environment. In the end, these processors will show different advantages depending on their application area and the only way to find out which processor will be the best solution is to test it within the actual server environment.