SUMMARY: 240 vs 280

From: Grzegorz Bakalarski <>
Date: Fri Sep 12 2003 - 11:25:35 EDT
Dear All :-)

Here is summary on 240 vs 280 ...

Thanks to all who replied for highly valuable answers,
which are attached below. General comment is that 240
should be valuable machine and 280 should not be better
for heavy DB usage or HPC ...

Kind regards,


Original Question:

> We thinking about buying 2 processors Fire 280R Sun server .
> But we noticed that there are also 240R servers offered by Sun
> (seem to be new product). We also found out that Sun will
> offer soon 440R server (vs Fire 480R). The main difference
> is processor, namely its L2 cache. x40 series have 1MB L2 cache,
> F x80R have 8MB cache. The other difference is price: x40 series
> are muuuuuuuuch cheaper.
> So I'd like to ask you about your opinion/comparison on/of 240 vs 280
> or (soon) 440 vs 480 ...
> Does anybody already use 240 ??? How does it behave ?
> Which type of application could be run on 240 (or 440), and which
> could not (web, file server, oracle or other DB, general purpose,
> gateway etc)? Which type of application have to be run on 280 (480)
> (i.e. highly require bigger cache)?

============== REPLIES =====================

>From: Cyril Plisko <Cyril.Plisko@CloverleafComm.Com
We have both 280 and 240 as a matter of fact we are transitioning
from 280R to V240 full speed. While being practically the same
on performance scale V240 is dramatically cheaper as you know.

As a side note I can add that V65x wins hands down when compared
to both 280R and V240


>From <>
I did discuss with SUN engineer this questions.  The suggestion from SUn
is V240 has less L2 cache and CPU speed slow than E280 (1.0 VS 1.2 GhZ).

They suggest WEB server and ORACLE application server can use V240, but
database server use E280 (better I/O).


>From: Hans Jacobsen <>
My understanding is that the 280R's 8MB of cache is most useful for context
switching, most needed in very large systems - like 8 processors and up.
Not what the 280R has...  I've had amazing success with getting more CPU out
of a large Sparc system (so when I add processor 27 and 28 on a big oracle
db, I still see a good performance gain when many people say you'd lose it
all to context switching....)  A small CPU cache is CRUCIAL to performance,
but a huge one (over 512K... 1MB on the outside) typically adds vastly less
than 5 percent to performance unless unusual circumstances are present (like
coordination with lots of other processors...)

I think the 280R is a holdover from some previous design - I'd get the v240.
I recently was specing out some systems, and I did just that, but have not
implemented it yet.  More money for no known benefit is how I'd describe the
280R.  Sort of ditto on the v440...


>From: Tim Chipman <>

I'm sure you would be able to run pretty much all the same apps on a 240
vs 280 system ; only possible obvious performance hit will be "apps that
benefit massively from abundant L2 cache" (ie, data intensive, say,
database as the classic example?).

Alas, to properly benchmark (anything) you more or less have to test
(app of interest) on (given hardware) and see how it goes. Otherwise,
generalized benchmark/stats can be misleading/worse than uninformative.

My inital suspicions would be, when comparing these 2 boxes:

-web server -> probably indistinguishable

-fileserver -> CPU is rarely limiting to performance (IO/ disk issues
will become relevant much faster normally)

-general purpose -> typically, as above. depends on your purpose I
guess? :-)

-DB - again will depend on type,scope,access to data. More cache isn't a
bad thing for sure, but may not be a certain "big benefit" either.

In all cases, for example, (assuming budget is a limiting factor), you  
may well get better overall performance at the same net/final cost if
you buy the cheaper system and investing the $$ you save on the
CPU/system into (higher performance storage subsystem) for example -
rather than buying the more expensive box with vanilla storage
array/disks. Again, this is massively dependant on knowing (what sort of
things may likely become performance bottlenecks on the system) based on
its intended scope of use.
Of course, I also forget, if the UltraIII chips with 1mb cache are
crippled in any ways other than the size-of-cache (or not?) when
compared to their 8mb-cache siblings. (bus speed, bandwidth, any other
internal features butchered or dumbed down?). Probably worth reading the
semi-fine print a bit carefully if nobody comments on this.

(280r uses "US3-cu cpu" vs 240 uses "US3i"  ; clearly from quick look,
the 3cu is intended for use in larger SMP machines, while 3i is limited
to 4-way boxes, but if you are comparing dual-cpu boxes, this
distinction is less relevant :-)

Anyhow. Your summary will be most interesting to see, when it surfaces.
 Good luck with all this :-)

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