Sun and IBM set for another battle

The battle between Sun Microsystems and IBM looks set to escalate with the release of Sun's mainframe-style product codenamed...

The battle between Sun Microsystems and IBM looks set to escalate with the release of Sun's mainframe-style product codenamed StarCat, quickly followed by IBM's new Regatta server, according to industry sources.

On Friday, Sun announced the 26 September launch of its "New Star of the Data Centre", which will take place in New York. Ed Zander, president and chief operating officer at Sun, will preside.

The "new star" is likely to be a high-end Unix server codenamed StarCat, which industry analysts have been expecting to appear in September. The server should take advantage of UltraSPARC III processors. Sun has said it will have 900MHz versions of the UltraSPARC III in workstations some time this quarter, after which it will push the product into its higher-end hardware as well.

IBM will counter Sun with its Regatta system set for release on 2 October, according to sources. IBM will also boost its chip technology, debuting the Power4 processor in 32-way Regatta systems. IBM began circulating a James Bond-style Web movie on Friday to help spur interest in the soon-to-be-released hardware. Users can view the movie at:

Sun and IBM are perhaps the fiercest rivals in the high-end server game, with both vendors constantly slinging competitive barbs at each other.

Both companies have begun pushing high-end features further down their product lines, giving users more power and stability on lower-priced hardware. Sun began offering a sub-$1,000 (£687) workstation earlier this year and plans to spread the UltraSPARC III processors across its product line.

Similarly, IBM has brought many mainframe computing features to its high-end servers, offering users software designed to help with diagnostic functions and automatic repair tasks. The company will also allow users to create both Linux and Unix partitions on Regatta systems via its AIX 5L operating system.

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