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Sun unfurls four-core Xeon-fueled blade memory hole

32 freaking DIMMs

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

When not patting itself on the back for selling servers, Sun Microsystems found time today to announce a new blade system.

In a statement, Sun boasted, "Since re-entering the blades market in mid-2006, Sun tied for #4 in blade server market share for factory revenue (Q3CY07), released 29 new blade and supporting products, and gained more than 300 new Sun Blade customers."

Yeah, we'd be impressed too except that selling servers is Sun's main business. One might suggest it should never have needed to re-enter the blade server market but should have dominated it. Instead, we find Sun and Dell doing everything possible to end HP and IBM's duopoly on the blade game.

But you hardware buyers are more interested in product than our waffle, and so we bring you the X8450 blade server. This puppy runs on up to four of Intel's quad-core Xeon processors. You can pick from a low-voltage 1.86GHz, 50W part right on up to 80W 2.13GHz and 2.40GHz chips.

The server has a ridiculous 32 FB-DIMM slots, bringing total memory up to 256GB in theory. There's also room for up to two SAS/SATA drives and support for Solaris, Linux and Windows.

The blade plugs into Sun's beefy 19U Sun Blade 8000 chassis and ships in March, starting at $8,905.

Before leaving this rather impressive blade, we've got one more gripe.

Sun's CEO Jonathan Schwartz has been talking a lot lately about how Sun's Niagara-based systems have turned into a $1bn business for Sun. Schwartz particularly likes to highlight how hard it is for a company the size of Sun to "turn the dial" by developing a brand new $1bn business.

Truth be told, the Niagara systems have proved more popular than we expected and garnered a lot of attention for Sun. The company is seen as an innovator around the move to multi-core processors and has a unique product set that HP, IBM and Dell have declined to match.

Still, that $1bn figure grates on us because Sun's product revenue continues to decline. Sun basically replaced some of its old low-end server sales with new sales based on Niagara-powered systems. This is not Sun's "iPod" moment, as the company would like you to think, and the dial really hasn't turned, unless you count spinning in place. ®

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