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Sun UltraSparc4+ Servers Promise Big Boost In Performance

On the heels of its Galaxy platform announcement for the x86-based server market, Sun Microsystems on Tuesday implements an overhaul of its Sparc server line with the introduction of the first systems based on its UltraSparc4+ processor.

The new servers will provide up to five times the performance of servers based on Sun's UltraSparc3 and up to twice the performance of servers using the UltraSparc4 processors, and they set the stage for the company's eight-core Niagara processor-based systems early next year.

"Sun is clearly delivering on their Sparc road map and is expanding in the industry-standard market with their Galaxy platform," says Nathan Brookwood, an analyst with Insight64. "At this point, it appears Sun is relatively secure, and rumors of its death prove to be greatly exaggerated once again. They've become very good at dodging bullets."

The introduction of five new servers based on the UltraSparc4+ processor, combined with its introduction of three servers based Advanced Micro Device Inc.'s Opteron processors in its Galaxy platform two weeks ago, provides a complete refresh of Sun's server product line.

The UltraSparc4+ chips are the first Sparc devices manufactured on a 90-nanometer process by longtime manufacturing partner Texas Instruments Inc., and are a shrink from the previous 130-nanometer devices. The smaller processing geometries have allowed Sun to place large amounts of on-chip memory on the new processors, significantly increasing performance with minimal clock cycle and power increases.

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