Sun Debuts Galaxy Servers

Sun aims to build a stronger presence in the x86 space with its new enterprise-class systems, based on AMD's Opteron processor.

This is why Sun Microsystems Inc. brought Andrew Bechtolsheim back.

Early last year, Bechtolsheim—a Sun co-founder who left the company in 1995—was leading Kealia Inc., a startup designing a new generation of servers based on Advanced Micro Devices Inc.s Opteron processor.

At the same time, Sun was embarking on a plan to create a family of Opteron-based servers.

Sun, of Santa Clara, Calif., bought Kealia in February 2004 and put Bechtolsheim in charge of developing its Opteron systems.

/zimages/1/28571.gifRead more here about Suns next Opteron servers.

The first two of the "Galaxy" systems—the one-socket Sun Fire X2100 and the two-socket X4200—will be rolled out this week at an event in New York, followed by more as the fiscal year unfolds, ranging from blade servers to eight-socket systems that, with the dual-core capabilities, essentially function as 16-way servers. The new systems announced this week will be 1U (1.75-inch) and 2U (3.5-inch) boxes.

"This is the first time Sun has sold enterprise-class [x86] systems—that have full, redundant, hot-swap fans, power, cooling, RAID on the motherboard, the lights-out management on the motherboard—so everything is standard," Bechtolsheim said in an interview with eWEEK.

Bechtolsheim and other Sun officials are hoping that the new Galaxy systems—which also feature more powerful Opteron processors and greater management capabilities—will help expand Suns presence in the competitive and lucrative x86 space.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read more about the future of AMDs Opteron chips.

Sun has seen rapid growth in sales of its current Opteron systems, the V20z and V40z, but the numbers relative to competitors are still small. According to numbers from Gartner Inc., of Stamford, Conn., Sun climbed into the No. 6 slot in the x86 server space last quarter, seeing almost 192 percent revenue growth.

Still, that was only good for a 1.84 percent market share, far behind leader Hewlett-Packard Co., with 34.23 percent market share. Dell Inc. and IBM also are key players in the space.

"Being the No. 6 maker might not seem big, but [just] 12 months ago, we were like a footnote," said John Fowler, executive vice president of Suns Network Systems Group.

Next Page: The Opteron advantage.