Sun Microsystems has broadened its line-up of x86 offerings with three new systems built around AMD's Opteron processor.
The most heavily touted of the new boxes is the Sun Fire V40z server, which comes in two- and four-way multiprocessor configurations. Four-way systems are considered a particular sweet spot of the market for Opteron, which is competing with Intel's Xeon CPU in the commodity server space.
Opteron is a hybrid 32/64-bit processor that can run 64-bit applications; the largely 32-bit Xeon line recently added its first 64-bit-compatible chip.
Rounding out Sun's new releases are the two-way Java Workstation W2100z and the single-processor Java Workstation W1100z
The new offerings mark another step forward in Sun's strategy to add a full line-up of x86 platforms alongside systems based on its homegrown UltraSparc RISC processor. However, UltraSparc remains an upscale processor that competes mainly with IBM's Power 5 and Intel's Itanium. Opteron enables Sun to move down-market and compete in the mainstream x86 workstation and server arena.
Sun is offering its new boxes with Solaris and Linux. A version of Windows that supports the 64-bit instruction-set extensions used by AMD to give Opteron its 64-bit computing capabilities is currently in beta testing; a formal release is expected in the third quarter.
Pricing on the Sun Fire V40z starts at $8,495. The W2100z starts at $4,695; the W1100z begins at $1,995.