SUMMARY: Netra X1 vs Intel 1.1Ghz

From: Enrique Vadillo <>
Date: Wed Oct 17 2001 - 17:03:17 EDT
My Original post:
I'm trying to evaluate the possibility of purchasing either some 
Netra X1 servers or the Intel 1.1 GHz SRMK2 servers, both with 512 MB
of RAM and one processor (prices are comparable for these 1U servers).

What i wondered was if you had any comments/experiences on those two
products you'd like to share, i simply wanna use them as UNIX webservers.

I was surprised to see that most people consider that the Intel SRMK2 Server
with 1.1 GHz PIII is a much more attractive server than the Netra X1 with
500MHz UltraSparcIIe. Some suggested that the only reason why you'd rather
use Netra X1 might be compatibility reasons, like when all the rest of your
equipment is Sparc-based and you don't want to support more than one OS.

Featured reasons are:

- 1.1 GHz PIII has proved to be faster than the UltraSparcIIe when speaking
  of pure CPU performance
- Netra X1 supports only 1 processor (Intel SRMK2 supports 2 processors)
- Netra X1 has no CD Drive -important in case of major crash- SRMK2 has it
- Intel SRMK2 features HotSwap SCSI against 7200rpm EIDE disks in Netra X1
- Upgrading & parts are much cheaper for the Intel SRMK2 than for Netra X1

Most interesting comments follow:

"Henrik Huhtinen" <> 
Hardware specs of Intel kick the ass of X1 (SCSI vs. IDE, PCI slots vs.
no slots, 4Gb vs 2Gb RAM, 2CPU vs 1CPU (not to mention that 1.1GHz Intel
vs. 500MHz ultrasparc is quite a difference also). I'd say one of the
Intel servers equal about 3 or 4 X1:s if you benchmark them.

But low-end performance is not what I seek with X1. When I choose X1 I
want the same excellent OS environment on Sparc architecture which is
used on high-end aswell. I don't want to endure managing multiple
architectures if I can avoid it. If your backend is Solaris, go Solaris
in the frontend.

From: "Fletcher, Joe" <>  
In theory the Intel should kick the Netra soundly. See for
integer and fp comparisons. I will say that here I've just plumbed in 3k's
worth of 2nd hand Proliant running SuSE 7.0 and it's running an Oracle job 6
times faster than my 50K E420Rs.

I'm not a big linux fan but I can't argue with these results.

"John DiMarco" <> 
The Intel servers are much faster for CPU-intensive stuff, so if your web
work is CPU performance-limited, go with the Intel servers.  However, in my
experience, most web server stuff is more I/O limited than CPU limited, and
if your situation falls into this category (most probably it does), then pick
on the basis of what is most convenient for you.  

From: "Tim Chipman" <>  
quite likely the Intel will be "faster" since the CPU has significantly
more horsepower, and also has the added benefit of being dual-CPU
capable at minimal cost.

[for comparison: I've found a celeron-800 can easily outperform an
Ultra-2 400 cpu .. so the P-3/1100 should be able to beat a 500mhz
"lite" Ultra2 CPU easily. (If I recall, sun uses their cheaper Ultra2
chip on the X1, which has less on-chip cache?)]

Of course, the intel box also has local framebuffer so can be configured
with a keyboard / monitor chained to the unit ; the Netra is a
serial-console only so requires that framework for setup & long term
console access.. (not sure if this is an issue).

"Nate Campi" <> 
If they are the same price and performance-wise, I'd go sparc to get
better remote management with a console server/serial connection. Even
if powered off you can turn on a netra remotely thanks to LOM.

Replacement parts are cheaper for intel, generally, so if the remote
management doesn't apply (no console servers or other UNIXen to run
serial from) then go intel to save money. Even if sparc hardware doesn't
fail as often, it *does* fail sooner or later and parts cost a fortune.

From: "Olivier Masse" <> 
It depends on what operating system you plan on using. Solaris is robust and
reliable while comments on Windows are beyond the scope of the mailing-list.
You can run Solaris on the SRMK2 sucessfully, I have certified it with no

Here are my thoughts:

The SRMK2 is a good bang for the buck: you get built-in SCSI (i.e. hot swap)
and the possibility to use up to two processors. If high availability is
important to you, it is a good deal. However, its front enclosure is made of
cheap plastic and prone to break if handled by unconsious operators. Besides
that, it is OK.

Netra X1
The advantages of the X1 are
1) Native SPARC environment to run Solaris
2) The possibility to control the OBP (i.e. Bios) independently. If your
server messes up or crawls under load to a stop, you can go into the OBP and
reboot it.
3) Inexpensive

Be carfeul though, as while the X1 is fairly cheap, it lacks a lot of
standard features such as a CD-ROM and SCSI controller, so you can't have
hot-swappable disks or boot off the CD if you have a major crash.

As a plug, you can check our X1/T1 hybrid at

"Mike" <> 
Straight number crunching is FAR faster on the Intel machines. I 
realize that this is not what you are going to do with them, and straight 
number crunching doesn't relate well to your intended use, but if you read 
benchmarks or test them yourself, be aware of that and pay attention to the 
web server benchmarks more than the others.
If this server is gonna be very busy, then TCP performance is 
going to be important. Solaris has a great TCP stack in my opinion. Linux 
on Intel has made some really great improvements in this area, but only in 
the last year or so, it used to be a limiting factor on performance. 

"Vincent" <>  
I never used Intel SRMK2 but I have two X1s. I never ran any benchmark to 
compare, but X1's disk subsystem is really slow compared to IDE disks on a 
PC Server. Don't expect to run any disk-intensive task on this type of machine.

Also thanks to:
"Sue Thielen" <> 
"Thomas Wardman" <> 
"Kim, Charlie" <>  
"Gaziz Nugmanov" <>


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Received on Wed Oct 17 22:03:17 2001

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