Sun speeds up core of server line

Sun Microsystems on Tuesday revved up its midrange and high-end server lines, adding support for its fastest processor to date.

Already available in some workstations, Sun's 1.05GHz UltraSPARC III processor will now also ship with its Sun Fire 3800, 4800 and 6800 midrange servers. The company's highest end Sun Fire 12K and 15K servers will use the speedy chip as well, said Chris Kruell, group marketing manager for enterprise systems at Sun.

In addition, the systems still will be offered with the current 900MHz UltraSPARC III chips, Kruell said.

"This fits Sun's philosophy of rolling out new technology," Kruell said. "We start at the low end and then roll it up the product line into the server space."

The Sun Fire servers form the core of the company's server line. The midrange Sun Fires range from the 3800 system, which can fit 8 processors, to the 6800, which holds as many as 24 processors. The Sun Fire 12K and 15K are Sun's two largest systems, accommodating as many as 52 processors and 106 processors, respectively.

Using Sun's Uniboard technology, users can replace existing 900MHz chips with the faster 1.05GHz chips without rebooting their servers. The Uniboard technology, along with Sun's dynamic system domains, makes it possible to use processors of different speeds in the same system and to replace processors on the fly, Kruell said.

Sun is in the midst of a performance battle with IBM Corp. and Hewlett-Packard Co. IBM's Power4 processor runs at 1.3GHz and has been touted by analysts as one of the best chips around. HP's larger servers run on the company's 875MHz PA-RISC processors and 1GHz Alpha processors.

A Sun Fire 4800 with 8 1.05GHz processors will cost US$365,595, compared to $285,595 for the same system with 900MHz chips. With the faster chips, a larger Sun Fire 6800 with 16 processors will jump to $869,195 from $709,195, Sun said.

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