Sun Rounds Out Its Intel Offerings

In addition to new rack-mounted servers and blades, Sun is now offering an Intel-based workstation.

Sun Microsystems is rounding out its portfolio of Intel-based products.

On Oct. 23, the Santa Clara, Calif., company will roll out the Sun Ultra 24 workstation, the first of its workstations to use Intel microprocessors. Sun already offers workstations that use its own SPARC processors as well as a line of workstations based on chips from Advanced Micro Devices.

Since announcing an agreement with Intel earlier this year, Sun has been rolling out blade systems and rack-mounted servers based on Intel architecture. These moves will enable Sun to complete against similar offerings from Dell and Hewlett-Packard, both in terms of technology and price.

"From a very simple standpoint, it is all about survivability," said Charles King, an analyst with Pund-IT Research. "Sun is simply adapting to the needs of its customers, and many of these customers do not need the horsepower that Sun provided through a proprietary technology like SPARC. Now, the company can use a commodity processor like Intel and get the same type of performance and graphics ability that Sun offered with its SPARC-based workstations."

In terms of price and configurations, the Ultra 24 workstation starts at about $995, which is comparable to Dells T3400 workstation, which debuted earlier this month for a base price of about $1,000. Both the Sun and the Dell workstations offer the same set of Intel Core 2 Duo processor options, along with Intels new X38 Express chip set and Nvidias Quadro FX graphics cards. Both also offer the same amount of RAM—a maximum of 8GB—as well as four hard disk drive slots that support both SATA (Serial ATA) and SAS (serial-attached SCSI) hard drives.


Read more here about the Dell T3400 workstation.

A key difference between the two is that the Dell T3400 offers Red Hat Linux, Microsoft Windows XP and Vista as the operating system options. Sun goes a step further by offering those operating system options as well as its own Solaris 10 OS and Novells SUSE Linux.

Brian Healy, a workstation group marketing manager at Sun, said the company plans to sell the Ultra 24 workstation to what he called the "hard-core technical market" customers, such as ISVs, as well as to those involved in CAD work and the companys traditional vertical market customers, such as oil and gas companies and the financial services sector. While Sun built part of its business by engineering and building power workstations based on SPARC processors, Healy said the Intel-based machines now offer the customers some additional choices.

"Some of our customers are tied into Intel infrastructure, and by offering this workstation we are allowing them to buy a machine that fits in with that existing infrastructure," Healy said. "When you look at the market, Intel has the dominant market share. By not having that workstation with an Intel processor, we had a gap in our portfolio."

The Sun Ultra 24 workstation is available immediately.


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