Sun's Galaxy still not widely available

Company exec confirms servers aren't shipping in large volume

Sun Microsystems Inc.'s highly anticipated "Galaxy" servers, unveiled nearly two months ago, are still not shipping in volume, a company executive has confirmed.

Sun had previously said that the servers, called the Sun Fire X2100, X4100 and X4200, would be available in October, but the company is still not shipping them in large volume, said Graham Lovell, senior director for x64 servers.

Right now, the company is shipping tens of the servers per day, but as it refines the manufacturing process, it expects to greatly increase its capability, Lowell said. "We will be ramping over the next weeks to full production quantities," he said.

The servers can be ordered from Sun's Web site, which advises customers to call Sun for information on when the X4100 and X4200 will be delivered. The X2100 ships within six business days, Sun's Web site says.

Sun has high hopes for the Galaxy servers, which were designed by Sun co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim and use Advanced Micro Devices Inc.'s Opteron processor.

Late last week, one financial analyst expressed unease at the prospect of a delay in their rollout.

"Our channel checks indicate that Sun's new line of x86 'Galaxy' servers are not yet shipping," wrote Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. LLC analyst Toni Sacconaghi in a research note Oct. 28. "This is disappointing given the high-profile launch Galaxy received seven weeks ago."

Sun's Lovell said that the Galaxy servers had begun shipping in October as promised, and now account for about half of Sun's Opteron-based server sales.

Despite the questions about its Galaxy rollout, Sun did have some good news on its other highly anticipated line of servers this week. The company now says that its first systems to be based on the upcoming "Niagara" processor will begin shipping by the end of this year, slightly earlier than expected.

With eight processing cores on each chip, the Niagara systems will be able to process 32 separate tasks at one time, which will make them ideal for Web services, search engines and online transactions, according to Sun.

Copyright © 2005 IDG Communications, Inc.

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