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Sun goes back to the future with Metropolis

W is for Workstation

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Sun Network Sun Microsystems is determined to put the W back in SUNW with the help of a new Opteron-based workstation.

Sun's President Jonathan Schwartz unveiled the company's first Opteron-based workstation today at the Sun Network conference in Shanghai. The box is meant to revive Sun's flagging workstation business by letting the company participate in the x86 market instead of just RISC-based gear. Along those lines, Schwartz reminded the Shanghai crowd that the W in Sun's SUNW ticker symbol stands for workstation - the type of kit Sun was first famous for.

"It seems like we ought to get back to workstations," Schwartz said, during a morning keynote.

Sun is not officially announcing the product just yet or putting it up for sale, but Schwartz did show off the box on stage during his speech. The sleek silver tower system - code-named Metropolis - runs on two Opteron 248 processors and was demoed with Sun's Java Desktop System software. Sun also plans to run Solaris x86 on the kit.

Sources at Sun Network told The Register the box should be generally available next month. Sun initially placed a limited number of orders for the kit but has already received higher than expected demand, according to the sources. One unnamed customer has pledged to buy more than 5,000 boxes - a figure higher than Sun's original order. When the system starts shipping in July, Sun will offer it with the Opteron 250 processor as well.

Strong sales would certainly help out Sun's workstation business. The company dominates the market for RISC-based systems, but that does not deliver the greatest of bragging right, as Xeon-based servers far out ship the RISC kit.

In other hardware news, Sun also released a new Netra server for telcos and new storage gear.

The NEBS-complaint Netra 440 will ship with four 1.28GHz UltraSPARC IIIi processors and support up to 16GB of memory. The 5U box starts at $13,995.

To complement this box, Sun is shipping the new StorEdge 3120 SCSI system, which is also NEBS-compliant. Sun additionally now has the StorEdge 3511 with lower-cost Serial ATA drives. ®

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