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Sun Addresses Graphics Market with New Tools

Continuing to push its Visualization strategy, Sun Microsystems today unveiled the development release program for the Sun(TM) XVR-4000 graphics accelerator.

The development release will allow software vendors and customers to thoroughly test and tune the new graphics technology for performance and stability, before the final release, which is expected to come before the end of the year.

The release of the XVR-4000 graphics accelerator signals a strong move forward in Sun's Visualization strategy, which was first initiated in March with the release of Sun's Personal Visualization Systems, based on the Sun XVR-1000 graphics accelerator.

The XVR-4000 graphics accelerator targets customers in the manufacturing, oil and gas, and scientific research industries who wish to run visualization applications either in a personal immersive desk-side, a CAVE, or a small or large Workgroup Visualization environment. Additionally, the product is used for visual simulation segments that run training or simulation applications in a multi-display environment.

"With the XVR-4000 graphics accelerator, Sun is moving the high-end visualization market from experimentation and custom fabrications to more affordable volume deployment platforms," said Robbie Turner, vice president, Client and Technical Market Products, Sun Microsystems.

The release signals a paradigm change for Sun in the development of graphics, moving from outsourcing graphics requirements to focusing in-house development on high-end visualization markets.

According to Sarang Ghatpande, a graphics analyst for D.B. Brown and Associates, the move makes sense for the company.

"Going forward with the XVR-4000, SUN doesn't want to focus on in-house development of low-end graphics, which makes sense, because low-end has become a commodity market and there is no value-added (feature) for Sun to bring to the table," said Ghatpande. "With the XVR-4000 they are moving up the food chain in this new market segment that is dominated by SGI."

With the XVR-4000 graphics accelerator, Sun is targeting SGI head on, stating in a release that early testing indicates the XVR-4000 graphics accelerator is expected to deliver nine times better 3D geometry performance than SGI's Infinite Reality (IR-3) graphics and four times the usable texture memory.

Ghatpande notes that the geometry performance, along with the 1MB of extra texture memory are important features, and will prove important for Sun to distinguish itself from SGI, yet notes that it is just one aspect of performance and the accelerator will be judged as a whole.

The XVR-4000 graphics accelerator is expected to be available later this year for less than $30,000 list price.