Sun unwraps blade for telecoms

Customers choose between UltraSparc and Opteron

Sun Microsystems Inc. launched a new family of blade servers Wednesday, offering telecommunications customers a choice of processors between Sun's own UltraSparc or Opteron from Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

Sun announced these Netra Advanced Telecom Computing Architecture (ATCA)-standard blade servers at the CTIA trade show in Los Angeles, California. AdvancedTCA is a series of specifications set by the PCI Industrial Computer Manufacturers Group (PICMG), targeted to communications industry requirements for high-speed interconnect technologies, next-generation processors, and improved manageability.

Telecommunications is the largest vertical market by revenue for Sun, of Santa Clara, California, so the company is staking a lot on this product. The target customers are telecommunications equipment manufacturers (TEMs) and network equipment providers (NEPs), such as Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB, Lucent Technologies Inc. and Alcatel SA. In turn, those companies assemble mobile network infrastructures to sell to carrier companies, said Raju Penumatcha, Sun's vice president for Netra Systems and Networking.

That market shifted with Sunday's announcement of a planned merger between Lucent and Alcatel, but the overall market demand should remain the same, he said.

"The merger does not weaken this market, because it complements their strengths very well; Lucent is strong on CDMA (code-division multiple access), while Alcatel is strong on IPTV (Internet protocol television) and DSL (digital subscriber line). From my perspective, I don't see much overlap between the companies," Penumatcha said.

A major selling point for the Netra servers will be their standardized interfaces and range of computing options.

This will help customers reduce operating costs and gain flexibility to add new services, compared to the proprietary systems companies have been deploying in the past three years, said David Rich, director of 64-bit embedded markets for AMD, in Sunnyvale, California.

Customers can choose single or dual core Opteron chips, and Sun's Solaris 10 or MontaVista Software Inc.'s Linux operating system.

The new family includes three machines: the Netra CT900 12U/14 slot ATCA blade server, the Netra CP3010 dual UltraSparc IIIi processor-based ATCA blade, and the Netra CP3020 dual-core AMD Opteron processor-based ATCA blade.

The CT900 and CP3010 have been shipping since March, and the CP3020 is scheduled to ship in three weeks.

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