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Sun shuns Intel

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Sun Microsystems' embrace of Intel processors lasted all of two years. It has decided to go the Opteron-only route for its x86-compatible workstations and one- to four-processor servers.

Last month, Sun stopped shipping its V60x and V65x Xeon-based servers, a company spokesman confirmed. Sun executives had hinted last year that such a move might be in order, and they have been endorsing AMD over its longtime rival Intel for some time.

Sun decided to end of life the Xeon boxes instead of upgrading the systems with Intel's new x86-64-bit chips. By midyear, Sun plans to rollout a new fleet of Opteron servers that complement its current low-end boxes. Sun has managed to become the number one seller of Opteron gear, beating out HP's ProLiant line and IBM's box. It, however, remains a minor player in the x86 server market as a whole.

In August of 2002, Sun gave up on its UltraSPARC-only stance and started shipping a Pentium III-based system called the LX50. It never managed to move more than a few hundred of the servers. Sun then tried to revitalize its x86 effort by releasing the V60x and V65x products with fast Xeon chips comparable to those found in competing gear from Dell, HP and IBM. No luck. It's only recently since Sun rolled out the Opteron gear that it has gained any ground in the x86 market.

Sun will ship Intel-based systems once again if there is enough customer demand, the spokesman said. For now, however, Sun will go it alone as the only Tier I to choose AMD as its single supplier. One hopes Sun is exacting a sweet price from AMD for this commitment. AMD needs Sun far more than Sun needs AMD. ®

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