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Sun's Opteron Becky Boxes to arrive next month

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Exclusive It took 18 months for it to happen, but the hand of Bechtolsheim is about to touch Sun Microsystems.

Sun next month will announce and ship the first of its Opteron-based servers designed by company co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim, The Register can reveal. The systems are meant to make Sun a serious player in the x86 server market and revitalize its hardware business overall. Our sources say the new Becky Boxes could pull off this rebirth as they promise live up to their designer's high reputation.

The first systems to arrive will be 1U and 2U (2 socket) boxes packed with the dual-core Opteron chip from AMD. These systems will ship in September or early October and be announced at a Sept. 12 event hosted by Sun's President Jonathan Schwartz. At the event, Sun will also detail a 4U (8 socket) box that won't start shipping until early 2006, according to our sources.

Sun has debated branding the new systems - code-named Galaxy - as the X Series systems, but our sources indicate the official name is still up in the air.

Sun declined to comment for this story.

One of the more impressive features of the Becky Boxes is the way components can be replaced. Disk drives can be removed from the front of the system without pulling the box from the server rack and power supplies can be yanked from the back. Administrators can also remove fans by pulling the server only about 10 inches out of a rack. The system will ship in the same chassis as Sun's upcoming Niagara-based systems.

Sun acquired Bechtolsheim back in February of 2004 when it purchased his startup Kealia. The company had been working on a fleet of Opteron-based servers to handle streaming media workloads and other demanding tasks.

Sun initially said it would roll out the Becky Boxes in the first half of 2005, but kept pushing back the delivery date. Our checks had the boxes arriving "as late as October" which proved accurate.

Sun hopes the systems will displace Xeon-based boxes from the likes of Dell, HP and IBM. ®

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