Sun Continues Low-End Push With New Servers

Sun on Wednesday is rolling out three new servers that continue the company's aggressive push into the low end.

On the second day of its SunNetwork 2003 user conference in San Francisco, Sun Microsystems Inc. on Wednesday is rolling out three new servers that continue the companys aggressive push into the low end.

Sun is launching the four-way Sun Fire V440, a low-power, low-cost alternative to its four-processor V480.

Souheil Saliba, vice president of marketing and strategy for Suns Volume Systems Products group, said the Santa Clara, Calif., company initially pictured the V440 replacing the year-old V480.

"But as we provided information to our customer base, it became clear that [the V440] was so different that it wouldnt change their buying patterns," Saliba said. "We think this is very much a complement" to the V480.

The Solaris-based V440 is powered by the UltraSparc IIIi chip—either at 1GHz or 1.28GHz—and comes with 1MB of Level 2 cache and 16GB of main memory, he said. In contrast, the V480 runs on a 1.05GHz UltraSparc III chip—although Saliba said it will soon get a power upgrade—and offers up to 8MB of Level 2 cache and 32GB of main memory.

The V440 is available immediately starting at $9,995, about half of what the V480 runs, he said. He also said it costs significantly less than Dell Inc.s PowerEdge 6650.

"Dell will not be able to simply drop the price a little to meet this," Saliba said.

The two-way Sun Fire V250 represents the companys return to a tower configuration for the department and workgroup server space, Saliba said. Until early 2000, Sun had two offerings, the E250 and E450. However, as the market turned toward rack-optimized systems, Sun made the move in that direction for this space.

But customers, particularly in Asia and Europe, were unhappy with the move and have urged Sun over the past three years to bring back a tower offering, Saliba said.

The V250 is powered by 1.28GHz UltraSparc IIIi chips and offers up to a half-terabyte of storage and six PCI slots. Sun also is offering the SunPCI III Co-processor card, enabling users to run Windows and Linux as well as Solaris natively on the server, he said.

In addition, PC NetLink enables users to run the native Windows NT file and print applications on Solaris.

The V250 will be available in October, starting at $2,995, also comes preloaded with the companys Sun Open Net Environment software.

In addition, Sun is launching the Sun Blade 1500 workstation, a one-way UltraSparc IIIi system starting at $2,995. The 1500 is available immediately.

Along with the workstation, Sun rolled out SunForum 3D. The software enables users to collaborate using Open GL applications faster than ever before on Suns Sun Ray thin clients and Sun Blade workstations.

Saliba said that within the next quarter, Sun will roll out another workstation product.

Sun has spent much of the year building up its low-end offerings, including its Sun Fire Blade Platform. In May, executives from both Sun and Oracle Corp. tightened their 20-year alliance to help lower the costs of deploying their software and hardware.

At the time, they talked about future data centers in which multiple smaller systems were linked together to give enterprises the computing power of larger servers. Sun also launched the Sun Fire V60x and V65x, two low-cost, rack-optimized servers.