Sun X4500 – Taking the phrase 'disk space is cheap' to the next level

I love it when big old-school technology companies do something that surprises me. Sun’s new X4500 server does just that. It takes 48 (yes, 48) standard hard disks and puts them in a 4U server. With the 500GB hard disks available today that’s 24 terabytes in one server. That’s a frak load of disk space. To put it another way, in a 48 U rack (and the mother of all air conditioning units) that’s … umm my head can’t cope … 288 TB … What comes after ‘Terra’? When 1TB disks come out later this year, 1 rack will be over half way there.

Oh, its got 2 dual-core CPUs and (I love this bit too – very old school!) 4 gigabit ethernet ports. Reminds me of the old happy-meal cards (anyone get that?)

So what do you do with that amount of storage in just 1 server? Well apart from hosting the world’s most impressive mp3 collection, I can think of a few things:

  1. Data Warehousing gets darn cheap. Lets all start doing it! Lets never actually delete anything, just archive it to a different table. If its good enough for GMail, it should be good enough for our apps.
  2. Put your source control server on it, and check your continuous integration builds into revision control, and never have to worry about filling up the disk. Actually, scratch that one, I forgot about weblogic.jar being 17.5 GB by itself… Seriously though, this would make a great cross-department source control beast that would last for years.
  3. Give everyone huge shared and personal networked folders to work with. Turn off the quotas!
  4. Any application which is data heavy but CPU light and has separate application and database tiers could use this machine to host both tiers – no network traffic!

I’m interested to see what people do actually use it for. Such big advances can lead to interesting possibilities.

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