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Sun packs redundant processors for Web site upgrades

Neat marketing ploy or blast from the mini-computer past?

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Sun Microsystems is offering hard-pressed ecommerce sites an hardware upgrade path that's so smooth the hardware remains the same. It works like this: buy a 24-processor E10000 server but pay for only the processors you use. And when you need extra capacity -- just turn the tap on. Typically, swamped e-commerce sites have had to move to new hardware just when they are really busy and it is most inconvenient, Sun says. The company expects to recover the extra costs when the spare capacity is used, and it will also avoid sales costs that would otherwise be associated with flogging new tin. Sun has also been digging at the weakened SGI by announcing the Ultra 80, which will have four UltraSparc II processors, greater memory capability and more videocard slots. Chris Scheusele, Sun's workstation manager, hints at at a ten-fold increase in graphics performance in a new video system known as TVD that will use Sun's MAJC chip, probably be available in Q1 next year. Cheetah, the UltraSparc III chip is also expected next year. A comparison of Sun's UltraSparc machines with Intel-based competition has to take into account such things as the bandwidth between the processors and the video system. Sun manages 1.9 GB/second whereas Windows only manages 800 MB/second. Yesterday, Sun cut prices on some Ultra 60 models by up to 18 per cent. ®

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