By eweek  |  Posted 2004-08-23 Print this article Print

-performance computing"> Opteron has made its mark in the HPC [high-performance computing] space, but some industry observers are wondering when it will make its mark in the enterprise. What are your thoughts on that? What we saw last quarter was a pretty broad-based interest. In the fourth quarter we sold our V20z—back then we only had our two-way server—to 324 customers in 41 countries. The leading customers were in high-performance computing /education, as well as financial services and telecommunications, so those would be sort of the classic three. We had representation from basically every industry—from manufacturing, government, software development, etc. So I think its going to take off.
And you have to remember, what AMD did [is] they made it possible to run all the existing 32-bit software, whether thats software on Windows or software on Linux or software on Solaris, so if youre an enterprise today, chances are youre running some of that software and you can use Opterons today, and it can run really fast. Its really a pretty simple proposition for the enterprise.
Where in Suns Opteron strategy does the acquisition of Kealia [Inc.] fit in? Kealia is the name of a company that Andy Bechtolsheim was leading here in California. What Andy was working on—quite independently as a startup—was a line of Opteron servers, so when we acquired Kealia, we made a commitment to bringing those products to market. What were working on is finishing those products to bring them to market. Over the course of the next 12 months, we will bring various products to market. Theyre all Opteron products that Andy was working on as a startup. So todays Opteron server products that were shipping right now, their development predated the arrival of Kealia. Youve talked in the past about Opteron possibly growing beyond servers. In general, the Opteron, because of its high memory bandwidth and big memory addressability, is going to be useful in many places, potentially also including storage. Were always looking at ways that we can use it, but beyond that, I dont really have much to say about that. What advantages and disadvantages are there to jumping into the x86 market so late? For us its relatively simple: Its a growing market—the revenue in unit volume growth, according to IDC as well Gartner, continues to go up in the x86 market. So obviously as a business you want to go and try to grow, which is important to us. And if you noticed, in our fourth quarter we finally managed to turn around: We had huge unit volume growth as well as revenue growth for Sun as a whole, so we want to continue to do that with all our products as well as x86. The important thing is, being last to the market may not be as big a disadvantage as people think because we are up on the heels of the 64-bit transition and the emergence of Opteron. That gives us a great opportunity that we didnt have before to get on the ground floor and be a leader in this new area, which is going to be 64-bit x86. What impact will Intels jump into 64-bit x86 computing [with its EM64T 64-bit extension technology] have on Suns business? Its great because a lot of the Solaris work that weve already done can be leveraged on Nocona. Solaris and the compiler work, as well as the middleware stack, so I think its generally good news because it validates what AMD was doing. I would actually hate to be just alone with AMD 64 architecture because in general thats not really good for competition. Does Sun have plans to broaden its Intel offerings to include Nocona or future 64-bit Intel chips? Right now we havent announced any plans to do anything with Nocona. In general, the direction, with EM64T, is something that we applaud and were definitely watching it closely and if we think it will support a great value for customers, we would look at adding it. At least right now, the Opteron, which you can build one- through eight-way with a single chip set and a single software effort is a much better value. But youre not closing the door on any options. No, were pretty pragmatic about microprocessors. Opteron is superior and we have a great relationship with AMD, so were very focused on Opteron. It will take a while for Intel to catch up; they have a long way to go to catch up on performance, and its going to be good. Competition is good. Check out eWEEK.coms Infrastructure Center at http://infrastructure.eweek.com for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.


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