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Sun Microsystems Set To Unveil 'Galaxy' Opteron Servers

Sun Microsystems on Monday will introduce its "Galaxy" family of Opteron servers at its quarterly "Network Computing" product roll-out event in New York. The systems mark Sun's most original designs to date using AMD's Opteron processors, a selling point that the company will likely emphasize in a bid to differentiate its offerings from competing Opteron servers from IBM and Hewlett-Packard.

Indeed, the Galaxy design has been personally shepherded by Andy Bechtolsheim, who was an original co-founder of Sun in 1982 alongside Scott McNealy and Bill Joy. Bechtolsheim began work on Galaxy at Kealia Inc., a start-up he launched in 2001 to develop advanced server technology. Sun acquired Kealia in early 2004, and Bechtolsheim returned to the Sun fold in the role of chief architect.

"The very first fruits of that acquisition are what we're announcing on Monday," said Larry Singer, Sun's strategic insight officer, in a interview. "The advantage has to do with packaging and the density of the computing infrastructure -- how you place the stuff in the box to get better performance at higher speeds and with cooler operation. Our view is that Andy Bechtolsheim is to enterprise computing what Steve Jobs is to consumer computing,"

Galaxy is indeed a big move forward, according to one analyst. "Sun has had a good [first-generation Opteron] solution but I think this is going to allow them to provide a better, more integrated and more scalable solution," said Kevin Krewell, editor-in-chief of the Microprocessor Report. "It's the next step. For the first products, they took pretty much canned designs and brought them to market. This is more significant; there's lots of Sun DNA in this machine."

Because of a media embargo on the announcement until Monday, Singer and Sun declined to confirm specifics about the Galaxy product family. However, the Galaxy line is widely expected to stretch from one-way to eight-way servers, some of which will incorporate the new multiprocessing-capable versions of the dual-core Opteron currently in the works at AMD. Since Galaxy has been in the works for some time, it's also expected that the lower end of the lineup could include some systems based on single-core Opterons.

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