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Sun, AMD Team on Low-End Servers Running Linux, Solaris

Nov 18, 2003, 15:00 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Jacqueline Emigh)

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By Jacqueline Emigh
Linux Today Writer

Sun's recent successes in the desktop are not being unmatched in the OEM arena, as the company rolled out plans to OEM a series of 32- and 64-bit servers based on AMD's Opteron chip.

The upcoming servers, which were announced at Comdex, are branded Sun Fire and will run Java together with a choice of Solaris or Linux. The two hardware vendors also expect to work together next year on adding Hypertransport technology to the low-end servers, for higher data throughput.

On the Linux side, Sun's low end servers will be available with either Red Hat or SUSE Linux. Meanwhile, Sun will look into additional Opteron-based products, too, possibly to include low-end workstations, said Neal Knox, Sun's executive VP of volume systems products.

With the announcement, Sun's server line-up will soon include servers built on three vendors' architectures--Sun's own SPARC, Intel x86, and AMD's Opteron--and running two differerent operating systems.

Despite the addition of the Opteron-based products, Sun will continue to sell its one- and two-processor x86-based Xeon lineup. When asked to explain why during a press conference, Knox said that two of Sun's large customers have already made substantial investments in Xeon servers.

Sun's CEO Scott McNealy told reporters at Comdex that the deal with AMD "frees up" Sun's R&D arm to do more work on SPARC-based products.

New partners Sun and AMD hold different perspectives on the significance of Linux. During a follow-up interview, John Lolacono, Sun's VP for Operating Platforms Group Software, theorized that most developers will care more about the fact that they're working on the Java platform than about whether a particular application ultimately runs on Solaris or Linux.

Lolacono conceded, however, that some systems administrators might carry OS preferences, one way or the other.

In contrast, Benjamin J. Williams, director of AMD's Server/Workstation Business Segment, credited Linux as a major factor in helping AMD to move its silicon beyond use at the workstation level.

Dave Dargo, VP of Oracle's Linux Program Office, suggested that, by providing a common development environment for applications that run on a variety of hardware, Linux is becoming a good investment platform for customers.

Sun officials frequently reiterated that Sun has evolved into a "systems provider." When asked to distinguish between where Sun and Hewlett-Packard, Williams pointed to Java, Solaris, and other "IP" (intellectual property) innovations from Sun.

Lolacono charged that HP is now trying to become a "systems integrationist," somewhat along the lines of IBM Global Services.

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