Three New Servers From Sun's Relatively New CEO - InformationWeek

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Software // Enterprise Applications

Three New Servers From Sun's Relatively New CEO

Sun Microsystems moves further down the path of general-purpose systems based on AMD processors, touting differentiation along the way.

Sun Microsystems will build future products based on a general-purpose approach to computer hardware design as the industry shifts further away from chips and systems designed for specialized tasks, Jonathan Schwartz said in San Francisco Tuesday when launching the company's first new products since he took over as CEO in April.

The computer maker introduced three new servers based on Advanced Micro Devices' popular Opteron chip. Sun said the systems provide better performance at lower prices than comparable products from competitors Dell, Hewlett-Packard, and IBM. Sun will try to differentiate the new servers based on their scalability (in processors and storage capacity), cooling efficiency, and use of the Solaris operating system.

Sun delivered three new systems. The Sun Fire X4600, a 16-way Opteron system that set a new floating point operations record on the SPEC CPU benchmark, will sell for about $26,000. The Sun Blade 8000 will support up to 10 eight-way blades and lists for $24,735. And the Sun Fire X4500 data server can store up to 24 terabytes of information. The products address two major trends in the server market by incorporating multicore chips and "virtual" software environments, said Sun chief architect and senior VP Andy Bechtolsheim, who designed the systems.

Schwartz said Sun's business customers increasingly want to buy bundles of hardware and software technology, similar to the way consumers do. He also pointed to an industry shift from special-purpose to general-purpose hardware. "The growth of our X64 business has been absolutely astounding," he said. Schwartz noted the launch event was the first during his initial 100 days as CEO, adding, "I think that's still in the honeymoon period." He underscored customers' demand for general-purpose hardware in a blog entry posted Monday.

Server revenue for Sun's third quarter ended March 26 increased by 7.6%. Sales of systems based on so-called industry standard chip designs from AMD have increased, but those machines still make up a small percentage of Sun's sales. Sun's traditional business has been systems that use its internally designed Sparc RISC chips. The company posted a third-quarter loss of $217 million, on revenues of $3.2 billion. Sun is scheduled to report its fourth-quarter results July 25.

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