Suns Biggest Growth May
Come from Opteron"> Suns T1, with its eight cores and 65-watt power envelope, would seem a natural fit in a bladed environment, but Yen said Sun officials decided to focus on the Opteron blades first. A decision on whether to make a T1 blade will be made later.However, Sun officials said they see the Opteron and Niagara platforms as the key differentiators in the highly competitive server space. Sun and HP currently are the only top-tier OEMs with extensive Opteron-based product lines. The Niagara architecture, with eight cores running up to four threads each, is aimed at giving users maximum throughput without cranking up the power consumption or heat generation. Sun plans to tape out the next generationNiagara IIby the end of the year. Sun officials said the chip will offer greater throughput and floating point capabilities than the current version. However, Martin Kariithi, an analyst with Technology Business Research, in Hampton, N.H., said Sun will see its greatest growth in the Opteron-based servers as the industry continues to move to x86 systems. "The margins are lower [for Opteron-based systems] than [in] the T1 business, but the volumes are much higher," Kariithi said. "The T1 line is very shaky. Theyre hoping to get some of the Itanium business but Im seeing the x86 cannibalization of the T1 line." Enterprises are either buying large mainframe systems or smaller x86 systems, he said, and "the midmarket is really declining Intel is seeing the same thing with Itanium. Its a dicey market." Sun says its UltraSPARC T1 CPU is high-speed and eco-friendly. Read more here. Sun has seen a lot of growth in its x86 business. In the first quarter of Suns fiscal 2006, shipments of its x86 systems grew 109 percent over the previous first quarter. The company saw a 93 percent year-over-year jumpto almost 20,000in x86 system shipments in the second quarter. John Fowler, executive vice president of Suns Network Systems Group, which owns the Opteron line, said Sun knew it made the right choice when it went with AMD over Intel in 2004, but that he and others were surprised at AMDs momentum in the market. "We didnt expect AMD to get to where they are as quickly as they did," Fowler said in an interview. "We dont have to answer the AMD question anymore." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.
Suns multipronged server push includes not only the Opteron and Niagara platforms, but later this year the company and partner Fujitsu will roll out the first of the Advanced Product Line systems, a jointly developed server family that will be based on Fujitsus upcoming dual-core SPARC64 chip and will replace Suns Sun Fire and Fujitsus PrimePower product lines.