Memory prices for SPARC Servers.
One of the critics about the M3000 isn´t the system itself. It´s the price for the memory. But as alway, this isn´t about making Sun rich. There are technical reasons for this: Let´s assume you buy an x86 system. Most of the systems are phased out within 3 years or so. Now think about Suns: I know several customers, that still uses E250 or E450 for certain tasks. Without any problems. This systems were current system 8 years ago. But they still work. The reason for this: Extreme quality standards for components. It´s important to know, that electronics scatter vastly in the fulfillment of their specifications. This is the reason, why there is a frequency number on your processors, on your memory. Because the fulfillment of specification may vary with the frequency or with the temperature or the age. So you test your electronics and print the most expensive frequency in accordance to your specifications on the chip casing (okay, there are some problems with a matured manufacturing, sometimes you don´t produce enough low specification modules, so you have to downgrade better parts). This scatter in quality lies in the nature of mass producing electronic parts. When Sun wants to sell memory, the standards are really rigid. At first, we don´t take the memory from the spot market and sell it. At first Sun defines exact specs for the memory. If the memory module doesn´t fullfil this specs within a really thin margin … back to the drawing table for the manufacturer. When the manufacturer fullfil this specs, Sun takes modules from the last few months from all fabs of the manufacturer and check the modules by aging them artificially: A month or two at a temperature above the specs running at the threshold frequency. In a month you can simulate a several years lifetime of the memory module. When more than really small number of modules fail in this time … well … back to the drawing board for the manufacturer. Just when all tests are fulfilled within the really narow test specification, the memory modules are used for the our SPARC servers. So: Why do you have to spend so much money for the memory. Well … if you want DIMMS within +/- 10 percent of the specification you can choose from a vast amount of modules. If you want memory modules within 0.5% of your specification, the choice gets really thin. At 0.1% they are hand selected (this are not the current numers … numbers just choosen to give you an impression). The same for long time stability: If you want a series of memory modules with a lifefime of 3 years, you get choose from a vast amount of memory modules. At 10 years the story looks really different. So we want the cream of the crop of memory modules in at least two dimensions. And when you want to have the best quality, you have to pay for it. So we can´t simply take this el-cheapo DIMMS from the market and put it into a SPARC server. We have to buy the expensive modules from the manufactures, as the manufacturer know as well, that they sell their top quality to us. To answer the overarching question: Does high-quality memory modules really matter? Yes … definitly. Perhaps not for your PC at home. But surely for systems running your business for the next years.