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CeBIT: Sun puts new servers in spotlight

(IDG) -- Sun Microsystems Inc. released details about its new Sun Fire servers at the CeBIT trade show in Hanover on Thursday one day after formally announcing in New York that the UltraSPARC III-based hardware is shipping.

In less than 24 hours Sun brought its campaign for the new servers from the U.S. to Germany to make the hardware the main thrust of its presence at CeBIT.

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Greg Papadopoulos, chief technology officer at Sun, said at a CeBIT press conference that Sun is shipping the Sun Fire 3800, Sun Fire 4800, Sun Fire 4810 and Sun Fire 6800, a "very significant announcement for us." Sun has dubbed the systems "midframe," an appropriate term, according to the company, because the servers incorporate mainframe features and functionality.

Also significant, company officials said, is that the 12-way processor Sun Fire 4800 reached 60,000 operations per second running the SpecJBB Java Application Tier, while the 24-way processor Sun Fire 6800 reached 109,000 operations per second. These benchmarks make the Sun Fire servers the leading platform for Java applications, said Steve Campbell, director of enterprise systems and product marketing in the Systems Product Group at Sun.

The transaction benchmarks are impressive for a product just coming out of the starting gate, said Tom Henderson, principal researcher at ExtremeLabs Inc.

"They are talking about a very aggressive level of performance," Henderson said. "This is aimed at Sun hitting IBM harder and at standing on the head of Microsoft, Compaq and especially Hewlett-Packard with a unified strategy, albeit more proprietary than the ever-more popular Linux."

All four of the new systems include full hardware redundancy, redundant storage and network connections and allow for live operating system upgrades, Sun said. The company plans to add other features, including dynamic system domains, dynamic reconfiguration, hot processor upgrades and online upgrades by the end of the year.

The four systems run on Solaris 8 OS and extend the server line whose genesis in September was the Sun Fire 280R. All the servers are 100 percent compatible with existing systems, Campbell said.

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4:30pm ET, 4/16

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