January 19, 2001


San Francisco, CA — Stephen Shankland reported for CNET News: Sun Microsystems sharpened its assault on the server market Wednesday, describing a two-pronged strategy that takes advantage of Intel-based servers while dropping the prices on non-Intel systems. On the one hand, Sun announced its first Cobalt model servers, which are based on the Intel-compatible chips from AMD and run the Linux operating system. On the other, it showed off its first Netra server using its own UltraSparc chip and Solaris operating system and costing less than $1,000, as expected.

“Today we go after the cost-sensitive server marketplace. Today we go after all those customers that have been buying low-cost Wintel solutions,” Sun President Ed Zander said Wednesday at a news conference in San Francisco. The company has sold more than 250,000 Netra and Cobalt servers in the last year, Zander said, “and we expect this to increase substantially over the next year.”

For years, Sun argued its focus on Solaris and Sparc was a benefit because it didn’t have to trouble itself so much with multiple hardware systems. The adoption of the Cobalt line is essentially an admission that Sparc hardware isn’t cheap enough for some uses. Zander said Sun has no plans to shift the Cobalt line to Sparc and Solaris.

Palo Alto, Calif.-based Sun is the dominant seller of Unix servers and has passed Compaq and Hewlett-Packard to become the No. 2 overall server seller after IBM. But Sun’s hasn’t been successful in displacing lower-end “Wintel” servers from Compaq, Dell, IBM and Hewlett-Packard that typically use the Windows operating system and Intel chips.

With the new products, though, Sun isn’t trying to get customers to replace the myriad of Windows servers used for tasks such as feeding print jobs to local printers. Instead, Sun is aiming its new products at service providers, which are paid to handle customers’ computing tasks, by hosting Web sites for example.

Rack ’em and stack ’em

The service provider market needs slim servers that are bought by the dozen and that can be stacked up as densely as possible. All the new servers from Sun today are slim machines aimed at this “rack-’em-and-stack-’em” market, where servers are gauged by their thickness.

Even though it’s difficult to design machines this skinny that don’t overheat, numerous companies are angling for the market and many have a head start on Sun in some ways.

HP this week began selling servers “1U” thick–that’s 1.75 inches–with two Pentium III processors, catching up to Dell, Compaq, IBM, Network Engines, VA Linux Systems and others. Sun, by contrast, currently fits only one CPU into the 1U size.

And a new entrant, RLX Technologies, has gathered many former top Compaq server executives to sell its high-density “Razor” servers based on comparatively low-temperature Transmeta CPUs.

Neil Knox, head of Sun’s Netra group, said a 1U, two-processor design from Sun is “on the drawing boards.” The system will be useful for tasks that require more processing power, such as application servers that run Web site programs instead of just delivering Web content.

Sun estimates the rack-mounted server market will be worth $38.3 billion by 2004, said John MacFarlane, executive vice president of Sun’s service provider group.

“Our targets are Dell, Compaq, IBM–anyone trying to get out of the PC debacle and move into the server market,” MacFarlane said.

Sun’s Netra and Cobalt lines are intended for different types of buyers, MacFarlane said. The Netra machines are for customers that install their own software, whereas the Cobalt “server appliances” come with their own software to handle specific tasks. Setting them up takes only 15 minutes, MacFarlane said.

Sun’s first server appliances

Sun debuted two new Cobalt server appliances, said Stephen DeWitt, former Cobalt chief executive and now general manager of Sun’s Cobalt server appliance group. The Raq XTR is Cobalt’s fifth-generation machine for companies that host Web sites. And the CacheRaq 4 is the company’s fourth-generation for “caching” information around the Internet to reduce delays for browsers downloading Web pages.

The booming hosting market is a battleground estimated to generate $17 billion in revenue by 2004, DeWitt said. “It’s about who can offer the biggest set of services at the lowest price to the broadest set of customers,” he said. “This is a huge gold rush.”

One problem with server appliances, acknowledged by Compaq and others, is that they are likely to undercut general-purpose server sales. DeWitt, however, disputes this contention. “This isn’t cannibalizing the traditional server market,” he said.

The XTR has a starting price of $4,799. The CacheRaqs begin at $1,799.

New Unix servers too

Sun’s Netra line is closer to the heart of Sun, which long has boasted of the power of its Solaris and Sparc designs.

Sun upgraded its Netra T1 server, originally released in June 1999. The new AC200 and DC200 models come with faster 500MHz CPUs and more memory. The company also added the E1 system, a module that expands the input-output abilities of other Netra servers.

DC power is a critical feature that appeals to telecommunications companies that need systems that can run on batteries.

The Netra X1 starts at less than $1,000 for a model with a 400MHz UltraSparc IIe CPU, 128MB of memory and a 20GB hard disk, Sun said.

All the new Netra machines store their identity on a removable card the size of a credit card. The feature allows administrators to unplug the card from a broken server and move it to a functioning one, allowing the new one to take over.

Sun said that companies using the Netra servers include Verio, Enron, Exodus, Level 3, Digital Island, [email protected] and UUNet.

The AC200 and DC200 models have starting prices of $2,995 and are available now. The E1 expansion devices cost $1,595 and will be available March 6.


Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

What’s New in Computing vs. COVID-19: Fugaku, Congress, De Novo Design & More

July 2, 2020

Supercomputing, big data and artificial intelligence are crucial tools in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Around the world, researchers, corporations and governments are urgently devoting their computing reso Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

OpenPOWER Reboot – New Director, New Silicon Partners, Leveraging Linux Foundation Connections

July 2, 2020

Earlier this week the OpenPOWER Foundation announced the contribution of IBM’s A21 Power processor core design to the open source community. Roughly this time last year, IBM announced open sourcing its Power instructio Read more…

By John Russell

HPC Career Notes: July 2020 Edition

July 1, 2020

In this monthly feature, we'll keep you up-to-date on the latest career developments for individuals in the high-performance computing community. Whether it's a promotion, new company hire, or even an accolade, we've got Read more…

By Mariana Iriarte

Supercomputers Enable Radical, Promising New COVID-19 Drug Development Approach

July 1, 2020

Around the world, innumerable supercomputers are sifting through billions of molecules in a desperate search for a viable therapeutic to treat COVID-19. Those molecules are pulled from enormous databases of known compoun Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

HPC-Powered Simulations Reveal a Looming Climatic Threat to Vital Monsoon Seasons

June 30, 2020

As June draws to a close, eyes are turning to the latter half of the year – and with it, the monsoon and hurricane seasons that can prove vital or devastating for many of the world’s coastal communities. Now, climate Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

AWS Solution Channel

Maxar Builds HPC on AWS to Deliver Forecasts 58% Faster Than Weather Supercomputer

When weather threatens drilling rigs, refineries, and other energy facilities, oil and gas companies want to move fast to protect personnel and equipment. And for firms that trade commodity shares in oil, precious metals, crops, and livestock, the weather can significantly impact their buy-sell decisions. Read more…

Intel® HPC + AI Pavilion

Supercomputing the Pandemic: Scientific Community Tackles COVID-19 from Multiple Perspectives

Since their inception, supercomputers have taken on the biggest, most complex, and most data-intensive computing challenges—from confirming Einstein’s theories about gravitational waves to predicting the impacts of climate change. Read more…

Hyperion Forecast – Headwinds in 2020 Won’t Stifle Cloud HPC Adoption or Arm’s Rise

June 30, 2020

The semiannual taking of HPC’s pulse by Hyperion Research – late fall at SC and early summer at ISC – is a much-watched indicator of things come. This year is no different though the conversion of ISC to a digital Read more…

By John Russell

OpenPOWER Reboot – New Director, New Silicon Partners, Leveraging Linux Foundation Connections

July 2, 2020

Earlier this week the OpenPOWER Foundation announced the contribution of IBM’s A21 Power processor core design to the open source community. Roughly this time Read more…

By John Russell

Hyperion Forecast – Headwinds in 2020 Won’t Stifle Cloud HPC Adoption or Arm’s Rise

June 30, 2020

The semiannual taking of HPC’s pulse by Hyperion Research – late fall at SC and early summer at ISC – is a much-watched indicator of things come. This yea Read more…

By John Russell

Racism and HPC: a Special Podcast

June 29, 2020

Promoting greater diversity in HPC is a much-discussed goal and ostensibly a long-sought goal in HPC. Yet it seems clear HPC is far from achieving this goal. Re Read more…

Top500 Trends: Movement on Top, but Record Low Turnover

June 25, 2020

The 55th installment of the Top500 list saw strong activity in the leadership segment with four new systems in the top ten and a crowning achievement from the f Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ISC 2020 Keynote: Hope for the Future, Praise for Fugaku and HPC’s Pandemic Response

June 24, 2020

In stark contrast to past years Thomas Sterling’s ISC20 keynote today struck a more somber note with the COVID-19 pandemic as the central character in Sterling’s annual review of worldwide trends in HPC. Better known for his engaging manner and occasional willingness to poke prickly egos, Sterling instead strode through the numbing statistics associated... Read more…

By John Russell

ISC 2020’s Student Cluster Competition Winners Announced

June 24, 2020

Normally, the Student Cluster Competition involves teams of students building real computing clusters on the show floors of major supercomputer conferences and Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Hoefler’s Whirlwind ISC20 Virtual Tour of ML Trends in 9 Slides

June 23, 2020

The ISC20 experience this year via livestreaming and pre-recordings is interesting and perhaps a bit odd. That said presenters’ efforts to condense their comments makes for economic use of your time. Torsten Hoefler’s whirlwind 12-minute tour of ML is a great example. Hoefler, leader of the planned ISC20 Machine Learning... Read more…

By John Russell

At ISC, the Fight Against COVID-19 Took the Stage – and Yes, Fugaku Was There

June 23, 2020

With over nine million infected and nearly half a million dead, the COVID-19 pandemic has seized the world’s attention for several months. It has also dominat Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer Modeling Tests How COVID-19 Spreads in Grocery Stores

April 8, 2020

In the COVID-19 era, many people are treating simple activities like getting gas or groceries with caution as they try to heed social distancing mandates and protect their own health. Still, significant uncertainty surrounds the relative risk of different activities, and conflicting information is prevalent. A team of Finnish researchers set out to address some of these uncertainties by... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Turns Its Massive Crowdsourced Computer Network Against COVID-19

March 16, 2020

For gamers, fighting against a global crisis is usually pure fantasy – but now, it’s looking more like a reality. As supercomputers around the world spin up Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

[email protected] Rallies a Legion of Computers Against the Coronavirus

March 24, 2020

Last week, we highlighted [email protected], a massive, crowdsourced computer network that has turned its resources against the coronavirus pandemic sweeping the globe – but [email protected] isn’t the only game in town. The internet is buzzing with crowdsourced computing... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Global Supercomputing Is Mobilizing Against COVID-19

March 12, 2020

Tech has been taking some heavy losses from the coronavirus pandemic. Global supply chains have been disrupted, virtually every major tech conference taking place over the next few months has been canceled... Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Supercomputer Simulations Reveal the Fate of the Neanderthals

May 25, 2020

For hundreds of thousands of years, neanderthals roamed the planet, eventually (almost 50,000 years ago) giving way to homo sapiens, which quickly became the do Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

DoE Expands on Role of COVID-19 Supercomputing Consortium

March 25, 2020

After announcing the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium on Sunday, the Department of Energy yesterday provided more details on its sco Read more…

By John Russell

Steve Scott Lays Out HPE-Cray Blended Product Roadmap

March 11, 2020

Last week, the day before the El Capitan processor disclosures were made at HPE's new headquarters in San Jose, Steve Scott (CTO for HPC & AI at HPE, and former Cray CTO) was on-hand at the Rice Oil & Gas HPC conference in Houston. He was there to discuss the HPE-Cray transition and blended roadmap, as well as his favorite topic, Cray's eighth-gen networking technology, Slingshot. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Honeywell’s Big Bet on Trapped Ion Quantum Computing

April 7, 2020

Honeywell doesn’t spring to mind when thinking of quantum computing pioneers, but a decade ago the high-tech conglomerate better known for its control systems waded deliberately into the then calmer quantum computing (QC) waters. Fast forward to March when Honeywell announced plans to introduce an ion trap-based quantum computer whose ‘performance’ would... Read more…

By John Russell

Leading Solution Providers


Neocortex Will Be First-of-Its-Kind 800,000-Core AI Supercomputer

June 9, 2020

Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC - a joint research organization of Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh) has won a $5 million award Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

‘Billion Molecules Against COVID-19’ Challenge to Launch with Massive Supercomputing Support

April 22, 2020

Around the world, supercomputing centers have spun up and opened their doors for COVID-19 research in what may be the most unified supercomputing effort in hist Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

Australian Researchers Break All-Time Internet Speed Record

May 26, 2020

If you’ve been stuck at home for the last few months, you’ve probably become more attuned to the quality (or lack thereof) of your internet connection. Even Read more…

By Oliver Peckham

15 Slides on Programming Aurora and Exascale Systems

May 7, 2020

Sometime in 2021, Aurora, the first planned U.S. exascale system, is scheduled to be fired up at Argonne National Laboratory. Cray (now HPE) and Intel are the k Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia’s Ampere A100 GPU: Up to 2.5X the HPC, 20X the AI

May 14, 2020

Nvidia's first Ampere-based graphics card, the A100 GPU, packs a whopping 54 billion transistors on 826mm2 of silicon, making it the world's largest seven-nanom Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

10nm, 7nm, 5nm…. Should the Chip Nanometer Metric Be Replaced?

June 1, 2020

The biggest cool factor in server chips is the nanometer. AMD beating Intel to a CPU built on a 7nm process node* – with 5nm and 3nm on the way – has been i Read more…

By Doug Black

Summit Supercomputer is Already Making its Mark on Science

September 20, 2018

Summit, now the fastest supercomputer in the world, is quickly making its mark in science – five of the six finalists just announced for the prestigious 2018 Read more…

By John Russell

TACC Supercomputers Run Simulations Illuminating COVID-19, DNA Replication

March 19, 2020

As supercomputers around the world spin up to combat the coronavirus, the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) is announcing results that may help to illumina Read more…

By Staff report

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!
Share This