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Intel Aims to Steal Sun Thunder

Hopes to displace specialized Netra servers

Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) today announced two new products geared for the OEM market (see Intel Ships NEBS Platforms). But the vendor admits its strategy may not materialize until 2003.

Intel's offering two basic systems to makers of equipment for service providers, including ones offering storage for hire. Both are rackmountable chassis equipped with dual-processor Pentium III motherboards. Vendors will add their own CPUs, operating systems, and interfaces to these "building blocks" to create specialized servers for carrier networks. Intel says the chassis meet Network Equipment Building Specification (NEBS) and all environmental standards set by the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI).

The new Intel kits are designed to compete with the Netra series of servers offered by Sun Microsystems Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW), which are thought to comprise 60 percent of the market for servers used by vendors such as Lucent Technologies Inc. (NYSE: LU) and Nortel Networks Corp. (NYSE/Toronto: NT) in building solutions for network providers.

That's a piece of the action Intel covets. "Sun is selling about 30,000 Netras per quarter. We feel this is a robust market just at the starting point," says Shantanu Gupta, director of marketing for telecom platforms at Intel.

Gupta says he envisions Intel's "server building blocks" becoming de rigeur for vendors who need servers to augment a growing roster of applications for carriers. Storage networking, optical networking, and wireless infrastructure are all possibilities.

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