Sun Adds A Low-End Opteron Workstation And A Mobile Workstation

Starting at $895, the Ultra 20 is aimed at the fast-growing market for x86-based workstations.
Looking to build on its traditional strength in the workstation market, Sun Microsystems on Monday introduces an entry-level workstation based on an Opteron processor and its first portable workstation, which utilizes a Sparc processor.

The Ultra 20 workstation using a single-core Opteron processor and, with a price starting at $895, is aimed at the fast-growing market for x86-based workstations, says John Fowler, executive VP for network systems at Sun. The company will add dual-core Opteron-based workstations "relatively soon," he says.

"The classic Unix/RISC workstation market has been declining in volume," Fowler says. "But we have an opportunity to grow using our technology and products in the x86 workstation space, which is growing rapidly."

With its workstation products, Sun is targeting primarily software developers and the mechanical computer-aided-design and electronic-design automation markets, he says. The Ultra 20 comes preloaded with the Solaris 10 operating system and Java development tools.

"This is not a general business desktop play," Fowler says. "These are aimed at professionals with technically complex tasks, which is one of the reasons we're bundling so many tools with this platform. People don't talk about the workstation market much anymore, but designing jets, or cars, or circuits is a big activity, and the market when combining x86 and RISC is still in the billions of dollars."

The Ultra 20 supports a variety of Nvidia Quadro PCI-Express workstation-class graphics boards as well as media and communications processors. The system also has a half-terabyte of redundant array of independent disks, or RAID, storage to safeguard data for mission-critical applications.

The Ultra 3 mobile workstation is Sun's first mobile workstation product and is aimed at users wanting to keep compatibility with other Sparc-based systems, Fowler says. Anticipated users include systems administrators, software developers, and government agencies.

"It's really intended for the traditional Sparc customer that wants to extend into the mobile environment," Fowler says.

Entry-level pricing for the Ultra 3 mobile workstation is $3,400. Fowler says Sun will evaluate the demand for the mobile workstation and may expand the segment with other mobile offerings.