There was certainly no shortage of opinions on the long-awaited alliance between Sun and Fujitsu that has finally produced the jointly developed Sparc Enterprise Server. In short, the agreement produces a line of Solaris servers using the Fujitsu dual-core Sparc64 VI Olympus processors. The line runs from the four-processor M4000, which should list at about $50,000, to the 64-processor M9000 that'll set you back several million.
According to Stephen Shankland at ZDNet, the deal was originally made several years ago when the Sparc family was struggling against the IBM Power processor and the up-and-coming x86 Xeons and Opterons. But now that the UltraSparc T1s and the UltraSparc IV+ processors are holding their own, there doesn't seem to be much urgency to "rescue" the Sparc.
In fact, says Scott Ferguson at eWEEK, part of the deal calls for rebranding the UltraSparc T1 SunFire as either the T1000 or T2000 server, offering from 1 GHz to 1.4 GHz operation. He quotes Charles King of Pund-IT as saying that the deal makes sense on a regional basis because Sun customers are primarily in North America while Fujitsu is strong in Asia. But it could end up hurting Sun's efforts to roll out the next-gen Rock processor next year.
According to Sun server chief John Fowler, though, the exact opposite may be true. He told The Register earlier this month that since many customers are in fine shape with the 1.8, 1.95 and 2.1 GHz UltraSparc IV+s, they will probably wait until the Rocks are out for their next upgrade.
For those who are new to higher-end processing, however, the new Sun Enterprise machines look pretty good, according to Gordon Haff, blogging on Illuminata. A fully configured M9000 with 64 dual-core Sparc64 VIs offers 2 TB of DDR2 memory, with each core offering a 6MB L2 cache. But he's mostly impressed with the reliability and fault isolation capabilities, which include memory mirroring functions; processor-based instruction retry; and online hardware addition, subtraction and reconfiguration. You also get physical partitioning on the processor level, rather than the system board level.
Still, one can't help but wonder whether Sun will be up to the task of supporting the Enterprise line over the long term. Once the Rocks do make their appearance, today's Sparcs will be old news, and providing service and support for two major server lines will be no easy task.