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Sun readies launch of midrange UltraSPARC III

Sun readies launch of midrange UltraSPARC III

Sun Microsystems this month plans to boost its midrange Unix server lineup by announcing a set of multiprocessor systems based on the company's 64-bit UltraSPARC III chip.

The upcoming systems - which Sun is calling "midframes" - are expected to feature the 900-MHz version of the copper-based UltraSPARC III processor, according to analysts familiar with the company's plans. The machines are scheduled to be introduced March 21 at a press conference in New York.

The UltraSPARC III is the most advanced processor Sun has built thus far. The chip, which began appearing in systems late last year, contains 29 million transistors, supports 8MB of Error Checking and Correcting (ECC) protected external cache and comes with an integrated memory and system controller.

The first systems based on the chip - an engineering workstation and a low-end server - were announced last September after several months of delay. At the time, analysts said it would likely be another six months before users could get their hands on more powerful servers that utilized the new processor.

The machines being launched this month should provide significantly better performance at the midrange level compared with Sun's existing product line, said Tony Iams, an analyst at D.H. Brown Associates in the US. Its midrange servers currently range from the eight-processor Sun Enterprise 3500 to the 30-processor Sun Enterprise 6500.

Sun has "been incredibly successful over the past few years," Iams said. "This is going to make them even more competitive." But how much appeal the new servers have to corporate users will depend on Sun's pricing and on how well applications and database software have been tuned to take advantage of the UltraSPARC III technology, he added.

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