Sun launches new low-end Unix workstation

Sun Microsystems has released the Sun Blade 150, the latest addition to the company's low-end workstation product range.

Sun Microsystems has released the Sun Blade 150, the latest addition to the company's low-end workstation product range.

The company has also unveiled new configurations for its Sun Blade 2000 workstations and an add-in processor module.

Sun's Blade 150 builds on the performance of the existing Sun Blade 100, which will be discontinued at the end of this year, Phil Dunn, product line manager for workstations and technical markets at Sun, said. It features either 500MHz or 650MHz UltraSPARC IIi processors and 2Gbytes of error correction SDRAM for a list price of $1,395 (£914).

"This is certainly the least expensive Unix-based workstation on the market. It gives people who want to stay with Unix an alternative to Windows-based workstations," Kara Yokley, research manager at market research company IDC, said.

One feature that developers increasingly value is visualisation technology, Dunn said. Sun increased the graphics performance on the Sun Blade 150 by 75% over the older version, with the standard 2D Sun PGX64 graphics board or the optional 3D Sun XVR-500 board.

Another enterprise computing technology coming into its own is grid computing, which the Sun Blade 150 is optimised for, Dunn said. Sun's Grid Engine software is preinstalled with the machine and allows companies to save money by networking low-cost machines to power complex applications, he said.

"We're hearing from customers across the spectrum that the grid solution is very attractive. People are using low-end workstations and servers within a grid to accomplish what used to require a much fatter client," Yokley said.

Developers can also use the Sun Blade 150 to create software on the Windows operating system with the optional SunPC IIpro coprocessor card, which allows both Windows and Solaris to run simultaneously on the Sun Blade 150.

New graphics configurations for the Sun Blade 2000 machines feature the PGX64, XVR-500 or XVR-1000 graphics boards and single or dual UltraSPARC III processors running at 900MHz or 1.05GHz. Sun is also now shipping 1.05GHz processors for the Sun Blade 2000s in volume, either with an entire new system, or through a module than can be added into an existing machine.

Users will find it much easier and more cost-effective to simply add a processor module to their existing Sun Blade 2000 machines, rather than purchasing a whole new machine to increase performance, Dunn said. They will receive discounts on the module list price of $6,995 (£4,584) based on the speed of their existing processor, he said.

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