RealTime IT News

Sun Scores With Galaxy

Dell is out, and Sun and AMD are in at NewEnergy Associates.

In a customer win for both Sun Microsystems and AMD , NewEnergy Associates is replacing its entire Houston data center, comprised of 22 Intel processor-based servers, with two dual-core Sun Fire X4200 servers, part of Sun's Galaxy server line announced mid-September.

NewEnergy, an Atlanta-based provider of end-to-end energy IT and consulting solutions for energy traders, utility companies and power producers, said the Sun servers are powered by AMD's dual-core, 64-bit Opteron processor and Sun's Solaris 10 operating system.

"The transition to Opteron is a bit of work, and not everyone is convinced that AMD has that unique performance edge, but the proof is in the numbers," David Simmons, a director in Sun's Network systems group, told internetnews.com. "I can tell you the demand [for Galaxy servers] is huge. There's a backlog."

Dell unveiled new dual-core Xeon servers earlier this month.

The four-way Dell PowerEdge servers run on Intel's latest dual-core, Xeon 7000 (code-named Paxville) MP chips, but it's not clear if NewEnergy had information on those systems before deciding on Sun, or even whether the newer Dells would have been considered.

"After 29 years of business, for the first time, NewEnergy is no longer vendor agnostic. We owe it to our customers to recommend the virtually unmatched price/performance and reduced heat generation of Sun's x64 server line powered by the AMD Opteron processor over all other tier-one vendors evaluated," Neal Tisdale, vice president of software development at NewEnergy, at a company conference in May.

"The ability to upgrade to higher throughput dual-core CPUs without increasing the heat output, and the flexibility to run Solaris OS, Windows or standard Linux distributions, provides a great investment and a dramatic decrease in operational costs."

NewEnergy's Houston data center performs CPU-intensive grid computing simulations for its customers nationwide. The simulations mirror real-world electric grids in order to help them plan for potential disasters.

The company said trial results demonstrated that the Sun Fire X4200 servers were much faster than other servers. The company partially credits that speed to Solaris 10's efficiency over memory-intensive applications running Windows. Sun supports both Linux and Windows on the X4200, even though they're not being used by NewEnergy.

"Sun's new dual-core Sun Fire x64 servers have given us more compute power than our older systems for a much lower price than competitive offerings," said Tisdale in a statement.

"Power consumption and cooling costs were a big factor for us, and according to the projections we've run, replacing up to eight Intel processor-based servers with one Sun Fire X4200 server can save us between 60 and 79 percent of power watts in energy usage and can reduce heat output by 70 to 84 percent."

Tisdale said NewEnergy would use the savings to install additional Sun Fire X4200 servers.

The company's Atlanta data center has also begun a pilot test and has ongoing plans to consolidate up to eight physical single-CPU Intel processor-based servers with one four-way Sun Fire X4200 server.

The Atlanta data center currently houses 60 back-office servers that run high-memory calculations for energy trading desks. NewEnergy said a recent test demonstrated a 30 percent improvement in raw simulation times and one to eight times savings in physical space.