Server Farming

Feb 19 2009   5:15PM GMT

Sun Microsystems SPARC Enterprise T5440 server rocks, user says

Bridget Botelho Profile: Bridget Botelho

Sun Microsystems, Inc.’s SPARC Enterprise T5440 server won the Bronze award in the server category in’s Product of the Year 2008 awards, but the system is performing at the platinum level for René Wienholtz, a CTO / CIO for STRATO, the second largest web hosting provider in Europe.

The T5440 was released in September 2008 and is the result of the joint development efforts of Sun and Fujitsu Computer Systems. It is an upgraded version of the T5220 system.

Wienholtz recently emailed me about STRATO’s experience using T-series servers for the company’s internet service farms. Their data center is full of T5220 and T2000 servers and some of the latest T5440 systems, which the company is quickly adding more of because it supports their Web 2.0 applications so well, Wienholtz said.

The T-series systems support STRATO’s Web Services (https), Mail Services (SMTP-In/-Out, IMAP, POP3, AntiSpam/-Virus Filters), Shop and Database farms and makes up about 80% of all the company’s infrastructure today, Wienholtz said.

The T5440 is used mainly in STRATO’s Web & Mail farms, as that is where the highest load profile and the most parallel requests per second are, Weinholtz said.

“What we like most about the T-Series, and the T5440 especially, is their energy efficiency. The CoolThreads architecture is literally designed especially to our needs. We run multi-threaded internet applications that don’t need much calculating power, but the amount of parallel requests per second is absolutely massive – billions of hits per hour or a billion mails per day have to be handled,” Weinholtz said. Because of this, “the
CPU speed itself is not king – it’s the high amount of thread units that helps these applications to perform.”

Another great feature of this architecture is that upgrading the number of “T”-CPUs in a system equal a nearly linear upgrade in performance, so two T5220’s are equivalent to one T5440, Weinholtz said.

While one T5440 performs just as well as two T5220’s, the T5440 uses less power than its predecessors; “it has more efficient power supplies and [other power efficiency technologies] built in. This helps us saving money in OPEX (operating expenses) and CAPEX (capital expenditures), as a single T5440 is a little cheaper than two T5220,” Weinholtz said.

Pricing for the T5400 starts at about $45,000 and maxes out at around $200,000, according to Sun.

Pretty hot review of the T5440, to put it mildly. If anyone has a love story about a server you can’t live without, please share. By the same token, if you are dealing with a system you can’t stand, I’d love to hear your horror stories.

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