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Sun's Becky Box four-pack leaks

Founder's Opteron designs emerge

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The first details of Sun Microsystems "Becky Boxes" have emerged. Sun co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim rejoined the company, via an acquisition, last year.

A lengthy Sun presentation briefly popped up on a company web site and was spotted by a trade newswire. It showed that Sun expects to roll out four servers, stretching from a two-processor 1U system on up to an eight-processor 4U box, in the second half of this year. Sun executives had said as much in the past but no real specs had leaked out. Now, we have a few.

The lowest-end system will be the 1U box that supports up to 16GB of memory, 2 PCI-X slots and 2 hard disks. A larger 2U box will hold two-processors, 16GB of memory, 5 PCI-X slots and 4 disks. On the 4U front, Sun looks set to ship a four-processor box that supports up to 32GB of memory, 6 PCI-E slots and 4 disks. The big daddy system will support up to 64GB of memory, 8 PCI-E slots and 4 disks. All of the boxes will hold AMD's soon to be released dual-core Opteron chip.

These four systems - code-named Galaxy - will be the first Becky Boxes. The chipset and motherboard are designed by Bechtolsheim's skunkworks team. As of last check, Sun was publicly saying the systems would arrive "this Summer," although our sources say October is a safer bet.

Of the major server vendors, HP is really the only company with in-house designed Opteron gear on the market at the moment. Most of the vendors, including HP with some systems, are selling product designed and built in Asia. Bechtolsheim's engineering prowess certainly has rivals concerned, or so we hear.

Despite being the leading Opteron server vendor on the planet, Sun is still a minor player in the x86 server market. It's hoping the Becky Boxes will change that. Sun's looking for its R&D mantra to pay off with customers picking top-of-the-line gear over standard kit from the like of Dell. We'll see how this strategy plays out.®

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