Sun salutes Opteron

Lukewarm software support

Broken CD with wrench

Sun Microsystems paid lip service to AMD's Opteron processor with an announcement on Monday to provide a modicum of software support for the chip.

Just ahead of the Opteron coming out party, Sun decided to put out a short statement, saying it will support 32-bit Solaris, Java and the Sun ONE software stack on AMD's new chip, if needed. The 32-bit Solaris part of that statement makes it clear that Sun does not intend to do any major engineering work on its applications to use Opteron's 64-bit extensions.

It's easy for Sun to give AMD a little pat on the tush one day before the Opteron launch. Sun likes to take a shot at Intel wherever possible, so supporting AMD in its moment of truth makes sense.

Despite rumors to the contrary, Sun does not appear to be readying Opteron-based servers of its own. Sun has a lucrative 64-bit franchise and does not need to give some upstart a hand. In addition, Sun has enough problems trying to bolster its Intel-based line of systems without throwing a new chip architecture into the mix.

Solaris x86 does provide another operating system option for Opteron users, which is a plus since relatively few OSes will be present at the launch. ®

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