Looks Like Unisys Is Reselling Sun's X4600 Opteron Boxes
Published: June 11, 2008
Server maker Unisys has plenty of experience in creating sophisticated server designs based on myriad chip architectures. What it does not have is a high-volume server business. After taking a run at the high-end Windows server business in 2000 through 2005 with its ES7000 line, the Systems and Technology Group at the company has forged a partnership with NEC to make a new generation of boxes and, in the interim before those machines come to market, is partnering with others to OEM their servers.
Late last year and early this year, Unisys has rolled out a line of servers that look suspiciously like a bunch of Dell PowerEdge boxes with different spray paint and logos. Unisys does not "officially" cop to who its supplier is, but Rich Marcello, a long-time Digital, Compaq, and Hewlett-Packard server executive who took over as president of the Unisys Systems and Technology Group last June, laughed when I suggested that the new E5000 blade server might be an HP box that was rebadged. (It is actually a Dell blade chassis, which is itself close to the design of the HP c7000 chassis.)
The ES3000 server line, which includes Xeon-based rack servers that support two or four sockets, are definitely rebadged Dell PowerEdge machines. The ES7000/One, a machine that spans from four to 32 sockets and uses dual-core Xeons, is a homegrown design, but the future ES7000 "Next Gen" line, which will be based on hex-core "Dunnington" Xeon processors and probably scale to as many sockets (Unisys is not saying) is based on the combined NEC-Unisys engineering effort, which began in November 2005. Dunnington chips are expected later this year; Unisys and NEC are not saying when they will bring the Next Gen boxes to market yet.
Unisys was looking around for a good, more scalable box than a four-socket Xeon machine to support virtualized workloads, and to that end it has launched what it calls the ES7000 7405R, which scales from four to eight Opteron sockets and is now the company's first Opteron-based server. This 7405R machine is a 4U chassis that supports up to 256 GB of main memory using 4 GB memory DIMMs, has six PCI-Express slots and two PCI-X slots, four integrated Gigabit Ethernet ports, and up to four 2.5-inch SAS disk drives. Sound familiar? Colin Lacey, vice president of systems and storage at Unisys, won't say where Unisys is OEMing this box from, but maybe you can figure it out. (Yeah, I know the title spoiled the puzzle.) Take a look at this lineup:
Figure 1: If it looks like an X4600, and its quacks like an X4600. . . .
While this is the first Opteron box from Sun--and the first one to support Solaris Unix as well as Windows and Linux, which Unisys begrudgingly supported a few years ago after it became clear to even a staunch Windows supplier as Unisys that Linux on X64 chips was the new Unix on RISC chips--Lacey is mum on whether Unisys will add other Opteron machines to its lineup, whether they come from Sun, Dell, or even HP. "At this point, we have no comment on future plans." The company does not have any plans to put the quad-core "Harpertown" Xeons into the ES7000/One line and is skipping from dual-core to hex-core chips.
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