LinuxWorld preview: Sun boosts server power, fortifies Linux desktop

Sun Microsystems has levied a salvo of Linux and server announcements to the masses with the hope of siphoning away some of the popularity of competitors like IBM and HP.

BOSTON -- Sun Microsystems Inc. today announced a series of performance improvements to its AMD Opteron processor-based

64-bit systems. The enhancements arrive on the Sun Fire V20z server, and the Sun Fire V40z server.

Sun has also unveiled plans to lower pricing points for the Sun Fire V20z and Sun Fire V40z servers, and Sun Java Workstations, as well as plans to showcase a beta version of its StarOffice 8 software.

StarOffice is a productivity application suite from Sun that includes a word processor, spreadsheet, database, presentation maker, illustrator, schedule management, e-mail and newsgroup component. StarOffice is compatible with Microsoft Office components.

Additionally, Sun is releasing the beta version of the Sun Desktop System, which is the first complete enterprise Linux desktop environment.

The news comes in conjunction with AMD's announcement of the Opteron Model 252 and Model 852 processors, which run Solaris 10, Red Hat Linux, Novell SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 9 (SLES) or the Windows operating system.

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Graham Lovell, senior director for x86 servers at Sun said his company has also certified its x64 systems to fully support SUSE Linux Enterprise Server (SLES) 9 for AMD64, broadening customers' OS choice and increasing the availability of applications for Sun's x64 systems powered by AMD Opteron processors.

"[The Opteron-based servers] are great for technical marketplaces; it's a great platform for mission critical parts of the enterprise as it runs multiple operating systems like Solaris 10, and the latest Linux distros," Lovell said.

Eric Greenwade, chief IT architect at Idaho National Laboratory, said x64 systems powered by AMD Opteron ran three to ten times faster than their previous processor.

"That translates to substantial growth in work productivity," Greenwade said.

Lovell said customers can purchase the Sun Fire V20z and Sun Fire V40z servers with AMD Opteron processor Model x44 and x50 for up to a 20% price reduction. The servers start at $2,595 and $6,995, respectively.

Customers can also purchase the Sun Java Workstation W1100z or W2100z with AMD Opteron processors for up to a 22% price reduction. The Sun Java Workstations starts at $1,795 and at $2,595, respectively. The reduced prices for the Sun Java Workstations will be available as of March 8, 2005.

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