Sun Serves Another Round of Low-End Servers

The theme of the new products being unveiled at SunNetwork 2003, which include x86-based systems, servers for the telecom industry, reference architectures and high-performance computing products, is "scale out and scale up."

Sun Microsystems Inc. is continuing its push into the low-end server space with several new products that the company will unveil Wednesday at its SunNetwork 2003 Conference in Berlin.

Included in the rollout—the latest in Suns quarterly flood of new offerings—are x86-based systems, servers targeted at the telecommunications industry, reference architectures and a number of products aimed at the high-performance computing space. The new products represent about $500 million in research and development costs, according to Sun officials.

"The theme [of the new offerings] is both scale out and scale up," said Clark Masters, executive vice president of Suns Enterprise Systems Products group.

However, a good chunk of that is in the scale-out area. Sun, of Santa Clara, Calif., last month announced an alliance with chipmaker Advanced Micro Devices Inc. in which the two companies will build low-cost Sun Fire servers based on AMDs 64-bit Opteron chip. The first of the two- to four-way servers to feature the chip—which enables both 32-bit and 64-bit computing—will start appearing in the first quarter of 2004, with more systems appearing throughout the year. Servers with eight or more chips may also appear, officials with both companies said during the announcement at the Comdex show in Las Vegas.

/zimages/4/28571.gifCheck out eWEEKs interview with Suns Scott McNealy and AMDs Hector de Ruiz.

"Customers want to buy the right product for them," said Masters, pointing out that Sun now offers systems powered by chips from AMD and Intel Corp., as well as its own SPARC processors. "This is a market opportunity for Sun because customers want this stuff and are buying this stuff."

Some of the announcements Wednesday will build on the momentum from the alliance with AMD, of Sunnyvale, Calif., said David Lawler, group marketing manager for Suns Volume Systems Products group. Sun will unveil the Sun Fire B100x, a one-way blade system powered by AMDs 1.54GHz Mobile Athlon XP 1800 processor. In February, Sun rolled out the Sun Fire B1600 Blade Platform, designed to enable enterprises to run blades of different architectures within the same environment. The B100x, available immediately starting at $1,795, can run Solaris 9 x86 Platform Edition and Linux operating systems. In addition, Sun will roll out a new specialty blade—the B10p SSL Proxy Blade—which helps offload SSL encryption from the compute blades, giving users better performance, Lawler said. The proxy blade is available immediately, starting at $13,800.

Sun also is giving its one- and two-way V60x and V65x servers a power boost with Intels 3.2GHz Xeon chips, Masters said. They had been running 2.8GHz chips.

Next page: Sun targets the high performance technical computing space.