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Sun to Ship New x86 Servers

Sun Microsystems introduced three new AMD Opteron x64-based servers this week – servers it says begin a new generation of 64-bit x86, multi-core systems. To round out the offering, the company announced four new storage products as well.

Since users can run Microsoft’s Windows Server 2003 on the new boxes, Sun also announced it will offer a version of its Sun System Service Plans for Microsoft Windows Server, a customer support program.

Previously codenamed “Galaxy,” the new servers support up to two dual-core AMD x64 Opteron processors, and Sun is planning to release future servers in the series that will be able to support up to eight dual-core CPUs.

The entry-level, single rack-unit, Sun Fire X2100 server starts at $745 for a single processor AMD Model 146 and 512 MB memory. Sun’s new Sun Fire X4100 entry-level server starts at $2,195 for a single AMD Opteron processor Model 248 and 1 GB of memory. Finally, the Sun Fire X4200, which starts out with a single Opteron Model 248 and 1 GB of memory, is priced at $2,595.

Though the servers come with Solaris 10, they also run Microsoft’s Windows Server 2003, and Sun announced it is working on getting the new servers certified on the operating system.

"Today's announcement is an extension of the growing collaboration between Microsoft and Sun, which is helping deliver new choices for customers who want interoperable server products from leading technology vendors," Chris Phillips, Microsoft’s general manager of the Windows Server Division, said in a statement.

In order to better support customers who opt for Windows on Sun boxes -- clearly a result of the two firms’ recent collaboration -- the new Sun System Service Plans for Microsoft Windows Server offering are backed by Sun's support and engineering groups and provides integrated hardware and Microsoft Windows Server support for the latest Sun Fire x64 servers.

“This support was previously unavailable [from Sun] as a service on Sun servers running Windows,” said a company spokesperson in an e-mail interview. “These new service plans deliver a number of key benefits to x64 server customers, including expanded choice of OS support, [and] a single point of contact for managing heterogeneous environments that include Solaris, Linux and Windows.” Sun officials declined to disclose pricing for the new service.

The new Sun StorEdge 5310 Network Attached Storage (NAS) Appliance Gateway starts at about $54,000, and two units configured as a high-availability cluster start at $81,000. It is designed to connect storage area network-based storage to network attached storage systems.

Meanwhile, Sun’s StorEdge 3320 SCSI Array, a next-generation workgroup storage array, is 2.5 times faster than Gigabit Ethernet and 3.2 times faster than 1 GB Fiber Channel arrays. It is fully backwards-compatible with previous SCSI versions and is designed to be the storage complement to the new Sun Fire X64 servers, according to the company.

Sun’s latest offerings also include a pair of new StorEdge Capacity-Series (C-Series) Tape Libraries. The new tape automation units are primarily targeted toward channel partners in the small and midsize business segment, a market that Microsoft has also recently shown a growing interest in.

An autoloader called the C2 is a 2U-tall unit with either a super digital linear tape (SDLT) drive or a tape drive that supports the newer linear tape open (LTO) standard. With eight open tape slots, the unit costs $8,295, while a 16-slot model costs $9,695. The other new product, the C4, is a 4U tape library with space for one or two tape drives, and comes with a built-in bar code reader, which is made by Quantum.

About the Author

Stuart J. Johnston has covered technology, especially Microsoft, since February 1988 for InfoWorld, Computerworld, Information Week, and PC World, as well as for Enterprise Developer, XML & Web Services, and .NET magazines.

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