Big Deals For Sun

At Comdex, it disclosed a product-development partnership with AMD and a contract to sell as many as 1 million copies of its new desktop software environment to a Chinese tech company.
Sun Microsystems chairman and CEO Scott McNealy opened his keynote speech at the Comdex trade show in Las Vegas by saying it's necessary "sometimes to step above the noise and restate our relevance." McNealy then did just that by disclosing a product-development partnership with chip manufacturer Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and a contract to sell Sun's new desktop-software environment to a Chinese technology company for use in that emerging market.

Both deals involve near-term deliverables and longer-term potential. Sun plans to build servers using AMD's x86-compatible Opteron line of microprocessors, which will be available with Sun's Solaris Unix operating system or the Red Hat or SuSE versions of Linux. Sun will initially deliver 32-bit servers, to be followed in the first half of 2004 by 64-bit Solaris-on-AMD systems.

AMD has "a processor architecture that allows us to take advantage of all that Solaris has to offer," McNealy said Monday. "This will be one screaming Java enterprise, Web-services architecture."

To begin, Sun will build one-, two-, and four-processor servers. Larger systems are planned, though McNealy declined to say how big they will get or when they will be available.

Sun also disclosed a contract to sell 500,000 to 1 million Java Desktop Systems to China Standard Software Co. Ltd., a consortium of Chinese technology companies that's supported by the Chinese government. CSSC plans to use Sun's software to create its own branded desktop environment for distribution in China.

Sun's Java Desktop System, scheduled for availability by year's end, bundles Linux with Java 2 Enterprise Edition, Sun's StarOffice applications suite, E-mail, and calendaring capabilities, the Mozilla browser, and the Gnome desktop environment. Sun has set a list price of $100 per desktop for the software stack.

"A desktop solution based on open standards means more choice, an affordable price, and a higher level of information security," Li Wuqiang, deputy director-general of the Department of High and New Technology Development and Industrialization with China's Ministry of Science and Technology, said in a prepared statement.

An upgraded version of J2EE will begin shipping on Nov. 24. The release, J2EE 1.4, incorporates the latest Web-services standards, McNealy said.