Sun Gearing Up For 64-Bit ‘Galaxy’

In what it is billing as a “triumphant return” to the Big Apple, Sun Microsystems is about to release new dual-core, 64-bit servers based on AMD’s Opteron processors.

Code-named Galaxy, the machines will feature more performance than comparable machines from the competition, sources told Although product comparisons are to be expected, the servers will be noticeably smaller than similarly loaded boxes, consume less power, and cost less than competitors’ servers in similar configurations.

In other words, the new servers are following the evolutionary computing paradigm for data centers: Faster, smaller and more energy efficient. Experts expect this to continue even into Sun’s 8-way dual-core models (boasting the power of 16-way machines, thanks to dual core), which should appear next year.

Software news from Sun’s Solaris and desktop line, as well as storage developments, will accompany the Galaxy launch Monday, slated for a splashy New York event.

SG Cowen analysts said the “long awaited Galaxy servers targeted at mainstream data center apps due Monday could help solidify positive product cycle dynamics” for Sun.

Analysts sounded upbeat tones about Sun, pointing to product stabilization in high-end data center server demand and rising demand for its Solaris 10 operating system.

Other than advertising everything from “record-breaking servers for the data center to new network-driven desktop offerings,” Sun is keeping details of what it plans to unveil under wraps until Monday.

But Graham Lovell, senior director of x64 servers and head of the Galaxy line, said the 64-bit computing has grown tremendously since Sun was last shined its product lines in New York.

“We’ve had phenomenal growth with our x64 product line,” Lovell said in an interview, noting that Sun shipped over 100,000 x64 machines last quarter.

“I think there is a general shift in the buying patterns for our customers to smaller, horizontally scaled systems to consolidate the number of servers that they have.”

Nearly a year has passed since Sun Microsystems vowed to “Take Back Wall Street” in a bid to reclaim the leadership position in selling servers and software to financial institutions.

At last year’s event, Sun used different pricing options in technology bundles to appeal to customers. This included offering a Solaris license at half price if customers move from Linux to Solaris, as well as a $1 per hour per CPU utility computing option.

It’s likely Sun could continue in that vein on Monday.

“This is about redefining the expectations of industry standard servers,” Lovell said. “People associate x64 with industry standard servers. We’re saying you should expect more out of those x64 servers than you are getting today.”

Sun needs the marketing boost from the launch if you look at its server statistics from the most recent IDC report.

The company continues to drop share in terms of revenues, declining 5.3 percent from the second quarter of 2004, even as it remains a leader in unit shipments in many areas.

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