Sun Microsystems Sun Fire X2270 review

£2938
Price when reviewed

Since our early coverage of Intel’s new Xeon 5500 family we’ve been waiting patiently for IBM and HP to stop dawdling and deliver servers equipped with these new processors but, along with Fujitsu Siemens and Dell, Sun Microsystems is now the third of the big five vendors to beat them to the punch. In this exclusive review we take a closer look at its entry-level Sun Fire X2270, which supports Intel’s new ‘Nehalem’ processors.

The X2270 targets a wide range of applications and projects such as HPC and web services and the review system was delivered with a pair of 2.26GHz L5520 modules. These represent the entry point of the 5500 family that support Intel’s Hyper-Threading and Turbo Boost technologies and have a low TDP of 60W.

From the front, the X2270 doesn’t look as interesting as Sun’s X4140 as it only supports a quartet of 3.5in hot-swap hard disks. However, the target market is unlikely to need the eight SFF hard disks offered by the X4140. Only SATA drives are supported on the X2270 and the price for the review system includes a single 500GB drive. SAS may not be on the menu but if you want higher performing storage, and can afford it, Sun offers 32GB SSDs as well.

There are some other interesting storage possibilities for this server as the embedded ICH10R controller provides six SATA channels. None have gone to waste as two interfaces are presented on the motherboard as mini-DIMM sockets, which accept Sun’s 24GB Flash modules. These combine 4GB NAND flash chips and a Marvell flash memory controller and appear to the BIOS and OS as standard but very fast SATA hard disks.

With the lid removed, the X2270 presents a simple but very tidy interior and to accommodate the two L5520 processors and their hefty heatsinks, the sockets are staggered down the motherboard. Each processor is accompanied by its own dedicated bank of six DIMM sockets as the price includes a total of 12GB of DDR3 memory.

All components are, of course, linked together by the high speed QPI (quick path interconnect), which allows each processor to swiftly access the memory bank controlled by the other. In theory, it’s possible to upgrade memory to 96GB but bear in mind that 8GB DDR3 DIMMs probably won’t be available until 2010.

The cooling design isn’t as elegant as that offered by the X4140 as this is handled by three large blower fans mounted in front of the motherboard. They certainly live up to their name as noise levels are quite loud, making the X2270 a candidate for the server room only. This surprised us as one of the key aims of Intel’s 5500 processors is to reduce cooling demands.

Power redundancy isn’t available as you only get a single 600W cold-swap supply. The X2270 is also uncomfortably hungry as we measured it drawing 23W in standby and 169W with Windows Server 2003 R2 idling along. With SiSoft Sandra stressing all 16 logical cores we measured a peak draw of 267W.

To put this in perspective, Dell’s new PowerEdge R610 drew 15W, 144W and 260W in the same tests and this was equipped with a pair of 80W E5530 Xeons, 12GB of memory, dual redundant power supplies and four SFF SAS hard disks.

On a brighter note, remote server management is up with the best of them as the X2270 comes with Sun’s embedded ILOM (integrated lights out management) chip, which provides a dedicated Fast Ethernet port at the rear. This provides full KVM-over-IP services allowing the server to be controlled regardless of its condition.

Warranty

Warranty 1yr on-site next business day

Ratings

Physical

Server format Rack
Server configuration 1U

Processor

CPU family Intel Xeon
CPU nominal frequency 2.26GHz
Processors supplied 2
CPU socket count 2

Memory

RAM capacity 48GB
Memory type DDR3

Storage

Hard disk configuration 1 x 500GB Seagate SATA hard disk
Total hard disk capacity 500
RAID module Intel ICH10R embedded SATA RAID controller
RAID levels supported 0, 1, 10, 5 and JBODs

Networking

Gigabit LAN ports 2
ILO? yes

Motherboard

Conventional PCI slots total 0
PCI-E x16 slots total 1
PCI-E x8 slots total 0
PCI-E x4 slots total 0
PCI-E x1 slots total 0

Power supply

Power supply rating 600W

Noise and power

Idle power consumption 169W
Peak power consumption 267W

Software

OS family None

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