The Test

Using data from previous Linux and Solaris servers, we will attempt to analyze the performance of our X2100.

Test Configurations
Machine: SunFire X2100 "Aquarius"
Processor: (1) AMD Opteron 175
RAM: 4 x 1024MB PC-3200
Hard Drives 120GB Seagate Barracuda 7200.8 SATA
Memory Timings: Default
Operating System(s): SLES 9 SP2
RHEL 4
Compiler: linux:~ # gcc -v
Reading specs from /usr/local/lib/gcc/i686-pc-linux-gnu/3.4.2/specs
Configured with: ./configure
Thread model: posix
gcc version 3.4.2

Our SunFire X2100 came with Seagate's 80GB 7200.7 SATA drive. We have a specific hard drive image that we use for the majority of our Linux testing, so we opted to swap the stock hard drive for a 7200.8.

We only had the opportunity to test our configuration with SLES 9 SP2 and RHEL 4 during the X2100's stay at the AnandTech labs. The server is fully supported under Solaris 10, with advanced optimizations for dual core processors in the upcoming Solaris 10 u1 (Solaris 9 has no dual core optimizations). Windows Server 2003 32 and 64 are both optimized for the SunFire X2100 as well. Solaris 10 came pre-installed on our Aquarius, but in order to save time, we swapped the drives with our standard Linux benchmark drive instead.

The majority of the other systems in our analysis today are other Sun workstations and servers that we have looked at in the past.

Taking a Look Inside Database & Apache Benchmarks
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  • allanw - Tuesday, September 13, 2005 - link

    The two hard drives can be set up for RAID 0, 1 or 0+1 via the BIOS.

    I don't get it. How do you do raid 0+1 with only two drives?
    Reply
  • Deinonych - Wednesday, September 14, 2005 - link

    You can't. RAID 0+1 requires a minimum of 4 drives. Reply
  • stephenbrooks - Tuesday, September 13, 2005 - link

    Darn. I could get two of these things for less than my current desktop PC cost. (Though without graphics card etc. of course!) Reply
  • Jmonk - Tuesday, September 13, 2005 - link

    I was stoked to read the article on the X2100 because I'm currently in the market for an entry-level small business server. Doing my homework I found that other name-brand, entry-level servers were obviously too expensive for their spec's. The Small X2100 base-model ($745, no HDD, 512MB DDR, no DVD) is priced right where I'm looking at, but the spec's are relatively weak considering that I can build an equivalent 1U server (slightly faster, Athlon 64) for $475, purchased from online retailers. If I were to move up a notch to the Medium X2100, I find myself completely out of my price range.
    So is the name-brand and the 3-year warranty worth $270 extra for a somewhat weaker machine? The often heard "save money, build it yourself" suggestion is a known misconception when it comes to desktop PC's, but I was surprised to see that it's completely feasible and worthwhile in regards to servers.
    Reply
  • Furen - Tuesday, September 13, 2005 - link

    If you know how to do build it, know how to configure it and dont mind having to deal with any incompatibilities and issues yourself then go for it and build it yourself, you will save quite a bit. Personally, I think this server is pretty well priced since it's pretested, pre-assembled, in a thermally-balanced case (not that thermals are too much of a problem with K8s right now) and a decent warranty. All possible incompatibilities have already been dealt with, it also has two nice hotswapable SATA bays, a half-height 8x PCI-E slot for possible expansion and comes preconfigured with Solaris 10 (which I like, though you may not). Reply
  • Jmonk - Wednesday, September 14, 2005 - link

    Actually, the Small X2100 doesn't come with a Solaris option without additional cost.
    But you're right that there is certainly an amount of confidence with the Sun servers that neither the admin nor the owner of the company may expect with a self-built machine.
    My main point is that desktop PC's are much more affordable than self-built - pre-testing, -assembling, -OS-loading and warranties just sweeten the deal. But why aren't servers to that point?
    Reply
  • Gholam - Tuesday, September 13, 2005 - link

    The board used is Tyan Tomcat K8E, with some components like PCI slots just not soldered in. Doesn't mean it's bad - I have a server running here on that one board and an A64 4400+, and it's an excellent machine - but c'mon, give credit where it's due :) Reply
  • Ahkorishaan - Monday, September 12, 2005 - link

    I would really like to see a price point comparison between a Sun AMD, a Dell Pentium, any IBM, and any HP. I bet it would look rather interesting. Sun is indeed coming to the fore again. Reply
  • MCSim - Tuesday, September 13, 2005 - link

    Check out the Sun's NC05Q3 webcast. They are making some comparisons there. Reply
  • Deinonych - Monday, September 12, 2005 - link

    It would have been nice to see how this server stacks up against comparable offerings from IBM, HP and Dell (even though Dell doesn't offer an AMD server). Comparing it to other Sun products is nice if you only buy Sun. Reply

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