Fujitsu and Sun Computers unveiled Tuesday what they described as the world's fastest SPARC servers. The new SPARC Enterprise machines can deliver up to 50 percent more performance than current SPARC servers, the companies said. Sun indicated that the gains in performance were due to processor improvements and enhancements in memory, interconnects and I/O subsystems.

Sun and Fujitsu co-developed the servers over two years. Each company, as well as Fujitsu Siemens, will sell the servers with their own logos and configurations, although the core technology will be the same.

Features include hot-swappable components such as memory and processors, redundant hardware, instruction retry, memory mirroring and extensive diagnostic and healing capabilities.

100% Solaris Compatibility

Entry models use Sun's UltraSPARC T1 processor, while mid-range and high-end models feature Fujitsu's SPARC64 VI processor. All run the Solaris 10 operating system.

Tokyo-based Fujitsu said that the machines would have 100% Solaris binary compatibility, accommodating Fujitsu's PRIMEPOWER or Sun's Sun Fire server customers in their use of Solaris applications.

The new servers achieve their performance "while delivering mainframe reliability," Sun executive vice president John Fowler said in a statement, with the "virtualization capabilities that Solaris customers expect."

The servers had been discussed by the companies as early as 2004, and shipment had been expected last year. Sun, which is trying to bounce back from some difficult years, hiked its server market share to 10.8% in 2006, from 9.6% in 2005. Revenue increased 15.4% last year.

Six Models Featured

The high-end model is the Sun SPARC Enterprise M9000, with a starting list price from Sun of $511,385. It features up to 32 or 64 high-performance dual-core SPARC64 VI processors and up to 2 TB of memory. The mid-range model is the M8000, with up to 16 dual-core SPARC64 VI processors and up to 512 GB memory, starting at $290,690.

More modest models available from Sun include the M5000 and M4000, with starting prices under $60,000. The 5000 series handles up to eight of the dual-core SPARC64 VI processors and up to 256GB memory, starting at $59,000; while the 4000 series takes up to four processors and up to 128GB memory, starting at $54,000.

There are also two rebranded servers, the T1000 and the T2000, each featuring the Sun UltraSPARC T1 processor with CoolThreads technology. The rack-mounted servers are compact and can accommodate up to eight cores each, with four threads per core. Pricing was not available.

Satisfying the Enterprise Need for Speed

Sun said the SPARC Enterprise Servers have broken world-record benchmarks.

"The SPARC Enterprise M8000 server set a new SAP-SD World Record," the company said in a statement. The M8000 "is a 32-Thread Leader on [the] SPECompM2001 benchmark and outperforms [the] IBM p5 570 on SPECjbb2005 by over 34%."

Sun also said that its high-end model, the SPARC Enterprise M9000 Server, "broke a Teraflop and set World Records for the SPECompL2001 and SPECompLbase2001 benchmarks, as well as surpassing [the] IBM p5 595 and HP Integrity Superdome on Stream benchmarks."