Sun has recently embarked on a program to bring Sun into the mainstream with a collection of low cost (comparitively speaking) servers using very interesting multi-core Sparc processors. Part of their campaign to raise awareness of these systems is their free trial service - get a T2000 for 60 days and try it out. No really, see here: Now that I've made myself sound like an RSS feed from two months ago, I suppose I should mention that I managed to swing a free trial on a T2000. A pretty nice one too. Sun geeks will recognize this:

System Configuration:  Sun Microsystems  sun4v Sun Fire T200System clock frequency: 200 MHzMemory size: 4088 Megabytes========================= CPUs ===============================================                            CPU                 CPULocation     CPU   Freq     Implementation      Mask------------ ----- -------- ------------------- -----MB/CMP0/P0       0 1000 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1MB/CMP0/P1       1 1000 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1MB/CMP0/P2       2 1000 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1MB/CMP0/P3       3 1000 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1MB/CMP0/P4       4 1000 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1MB/CMP0/P5       5 1000 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1MB/CMP0/P6       6 1000 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1MB/CMP0/P7       7 1000 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1MB/CMP0/P8       8 1000 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1MB/CMP0/P9       9 1000 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1MB/CMP0/P10     10 1000 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1MB/CMP0/P11     11 1000 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1MB/CMP0/P12     12 1000 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1MB/CMP0/P13     13 1000 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1MB/CMP0/P14     14 1000 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1MB/CMP0/P15     15 1000 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1========================= IO Configuration =========================            IOLocation    Type  Slot Path                                          Name                      Model----------- ----- ---- --------------------------------------------- ------------------------- ---------IOBD/NET0    PCIE IOBD                /pci@780/pci@0/pci@1/network@0    network-pciex8086,105eIOBD/NET1    PCIE IOBD              /pci@780/pci@0/pci@1/network@0,1    network-pciex8086,105eIOBD/PCIX    PCIX IOBD                /pci@7c0/pci@0/pci@1/pci@0/isa                       isaIOBD/PCIX    PCIX IOBD              /pci@7c0/pci@0/pci@1/pci@0/usb@5       usb-pciclass,0c0310IOBD/PCIX    PCIX IOBD              /pci@7c0/pci@0/pci@1/pci@0/usb@6       usb-pciclass,0c0310IOBD/PCIX    PCIX IOBD                /pci@7c0/pci@0/pci@1/pci@0/ide          ide-pci10b9,5229IOBD/PCIX    PCIX PCIX   /pci@7c0/pci@0/pci@1/pci@0,2/LSILogic,sas@2   LSILogic,sas-pci1000,50  LSI,1064IOBD/NET2    PCIE IOBD                /pci@7c0/pci@0/pci@2/network@0    network-pciex8086,105eIOBD/NET3    PCIE IOBD              /pci@7c0/pci@0/pci@2/network@0,1    network-pciex8086,105e

For you non-sun folks, that's 16 1GHz cores, 4GB of RAM (actually it has 8GB, but I shut off half of it for testing), 4 network ports, and an IDE interface for the DVD reader. There's also a SAS interface for the hard drives - more on those later. Upon unpacking the box, my first thought was that someone had accidentally sent my an Apple server. It looks exactly as I would expect a 2U Apple server to look, if they made one. The Sun badge on the front is the giveaway though. Folks looking at Sun servers for the first time are liable to wonder where all the accessories are. In the box you get exactly 1 server, and one package with some documents in it. No manuals, just a sheet telling you to download your manuals from Sun, and no keyboard/mouse/whatever. Even the power cords came shipped seperately. Once I got it up on a desk for examination (nurse, gloves please) I popped the top and was confronted with something very non-Sun like. I couldn't find the processor module. As hard as I tried, I just couldn't find it. I'm a Sun fan, and processor modules are supposed to be big, surrounded by ductwork, and OBVIOUS. Not so here. Keeping in mind that the T1 processor was designed to be a low power datamover, I eventually found it sitting between the RAM banks under a heat sink - right where it should be. Other than that, the inside is fairly non-descript. There's a couple large RAM banks, some PCI-E and PCI-X slots, a couple power supplies, and a bunch of redundant fans. There's another surprise waiting for people who've been using Suns for a while - the hard drives. They're 2.5" (yes, laptop-sized) SAS hard drives in little hot-swap trays, and they are just as cute as a button. Yes, cute, but solid and well made. These are no cheap hotswap trays, the feel of the latch closing and releasing is very satisfying, and they're made of a substantial amount of metal and feel like quality components. Aside from the feel of of the drive and tray combination, they're fast little buggers as well. Initial impressions are very good - but at this time I haven't really stressed the box too much. In fact, the whole thing just screams performance. Not the type of performance that gets you 100FPS on Half Life 2, but the kind of performance that actually helps you accomplish your work faster. More on that, and the processors themselves, in a later entry. Once I got the beast plugged in, ALOM configured (the lights-out management piece which I still don't think I see the need for), and the system configured, I decided to power it on. Powering it on is a strange process. You can hold the power button on the front until something happens, or you can connect to ALOM via serial cable and issue the poweron command. What you get after that can only be described as "impressive" (please use your best Spock or Teal'c voice for that one). All those fans spin up all at once and make a noise that, without hyperbole, will make people come running to see what's going on. Within a few moments my office was filled with geeks and non-geeks looking at the server and shouting (to be heard over the fan noise) about how impressively loud it was. Exclamations of "ooooh" and "aaaah" could be seen on their faces, and a few wanted to know when we were scheduled for takeoff (like I haven't heard that joke before, please). I eventually shut it down because I just couldn't take the noise anymore, never mind the people in my office, and moved it to the datacenter to await testing. And that's wehere it sits right now. I spent the afternoon yesterday installing a bunch of stuff needed for testing (apache, postgres and MySQL, tomcat, etc, etc). Since my primary need at this point is for an application server for our internal web-apps (helpdesk, intranet, etc) and some big-time testing on Novell E-Directory, this server is going to be getting a real workout over the next few weeks. IT in the banking world might not be about technology anymore, but that can't stop a big geek from having fun while "evaluating and making recommendations on new technologies". Check back tomorrow for first testing impressions.