McNealy: Sun to ship Opteron servers in 2004

Sun Microsystems plans to begin shipping in 2004 two new servers based on Advanced Micro Devices's Opteron processors, Chief Executive Officer Scott McNealy said during a Comdex keynote address in Las Vegas on Monday. McNealy also announced the vendor had struck a deal with a consortium of Chinese companies to provide them with up to one million Linux-based desktop computers next year.

The servers, which were literally unveiled onstage at the end of McNealy's keynote, are part of an alliance the companies have been planning for the past year, according to Neil Knox, Sun's executive vice president of volume systems products. Under terms of the agreement , Sun will work with AMD to produce a range of Opteron systems, beginning with two- and four-way servers that will begin shipping in 2004.

McNealy provided no details of the new Sun Fire servers, which are 1U (4.4 cm high) and 3U (13.3 cm) in size and which he and AMD CEO Hector Ruiz showed on stage. But McNealy did say that developers would be able to get early access to the new servers later this year.

The Sun endorsement is a major step for the 64-bit Opteron processor, said Ruiz. "It validates the fact that this technology is sound," said McNealy, who is also Sun's president and chairman.

Sun follows IBM Corp. as the second major server vendor to commit to selling Opteron systems, which AMD launched in April of this year.

Also during the keynote, McNealy announced an agreement between Sun and the China Standard Software Co. Ltd. to develop desktop computers based on Sun's Linux-based Java Desktop System that could eventually see the software installed on hundreds of millions of computers in the People's Republic of China, according to McNealy.

"We're going to immediately roll out the Java Desktop System to between a half million and a million desktops in the coming year," said McNealy. "This, I believe, makes us instantaneously the number one Linux desktop play in the planet."

The China Standard Software is a consortium of Chinese government-supported companies set up to bring a Linux-based desktop to 200 million Chinese computer users, a target mandated by the Chinese government.

Sun hopes that the deal will be the first of a number of deals aimed at bringing the Java Desktop System to government agencies worldwide. "We're out calling on every ministry of IT on the planet, so stay tuned," McNealy said. "There should be some more interesting data there."

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