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Sun Microsystems is trying its best to nudge customers' upgrade plans into action with a new trade-in discount on workstations.

Customers moving from old Sun workstations to the new Sun Blade 1500 or 2500 systems will receive a 20 percent price cut. The offer applies to customers around the globe and will run through June 30. It took Sun a heck of a long time to roll out the new workstations which run on 1GHz and higher UltraSPARC IIIi processors, so it should not come as a shocker to see Sun try and give the old upgrade cycle a boost. Let's get these things moving out the door.

Sun is touting the Sun Blade 1500 as a low-cost option when compared to competing Itanium 2 systems from HP. The Sun Blade 1500 comes in 30 percent cheaper than an HP zx2000 before discount. And, hey, if nothing else, the Sun system will actually be able to run your software. Always a plus.

Of course, the Itanium boxes from HP do come with a performance edge. HP has a list price of $3,882 for a zx2000 with one 1.4GHz Itanium processor. This compares to $2,995 for Sun's 1.0GHz box. But, at this point and time, most Itanium workstations are going to software developers, disgruntled ones at that, and not actual software users, meaning coders get all the extra juice.

Sun's workstation story will become more compelling later this year when the company enters the x86 market in tandem with AMD. As first reported here long, long ago, Sun plans to roll out an Opteron workstation with both Linux and Solaris x86 as operating system options.

Sun is the dominant player in the RISC workstation market, but it's only the old guard that cares about that now. Bring on the x86-64-bit chips and let the real games begin. ®

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