Having beefed up its high-end server line a month ago, Sun Microsystems shifted gears and did the same for its entry-level servers yesterday, throwing down the gauntlet to Intel and Microsofts Windows.
Sun launched a two-way to eight-way server, the Sun Fire V880, as its entry-level machine yesterday. A server with two UltraSparc III processors costs $29,995, a four-way is priced at $49,995 and an eight-way goes for "just over $100,000," said John Shoemaker, executive vice president of Suns computing systems division. The UltraSparc III processors run at 750 megahertz.
Sun holds a 21 percent market share for servers under $100,000, according to research firm IDC, a market in which it didnt even have an entry six years ago, noted Shoemaker. In the second quarter of this year, Sun was shipping 6.7 percent more entry-level systems than it did in the same quarter a year ago, he added.
Daniel Kunstler, an analyst at JPMorgan in San Francisco, said no one was more surprised than Sun when it began to gain steam in the entry-level market 2 years to 3 years ago. "The Enterprise 450 was a product that Sun simply threw against the wall to see if it would stick. And it stuck," said Kunstler.
Its hoping it will have the same luck with the V880, he added, "but the low end will remain a very competitive market" as more Intel-based Pentium, and soon Itanium, servers enter the fray.
The V880 comes equipped with a high-speed, 9.6-gigabytes-per-second internal bus compared to 1.06 Gbps in some Intel 2-way to 8-way servers. It has up to nine hot-swappable PCI slots for server peripherals and 32 gigabytes of hard drive space. The server can be configured as a free-standing tower or a rack-mount model.
Neil Knox, general manager of Suns low-end server unit, said the system was designed as a server, "not a stretch PC" or a server made with industry standard PC components.
Sun also introduced the Netra 20 Ruggedized Server, a telecommunications and government/military-oriented server. Also based on the UltraSparc III processor, the Netra 20 is a rack-mount thin server with 4.8 Gbps throughput. It is available immediately at prices that start at $11,495.
Kunstler predicted the V880s adoption rate would be slow, "due to the mess the telecommunications industry is in."