Sun and Intel agree deal on Solaris

New engineering and marketing deals to include distribution license for Intel on Solaris platform.

Sun has teamed up with Intel for a new range of 64bit server and workstation systems running Solaris, Windows and Linux on Xeon processors.

The new ranges will serve the enterprise and telco sectors and focus on performance and energy efficiency with single, dual and multi-processor sockets. They are expected to become available in the first half of this year.

Intel will back Sun's Java platform and NetBeans suite and support the OpenSolaris and Open Java communities behind them. It has also signed an OEM deal so that it can ship Solaris to its customers and has adopted the platform as 'The Mission Critical Unix for Intel/Xeon'.

The companies will work on optimising Solaris and Java to run in excess of four Xeon CPUs. Both firms will also work together to optimise applications to run on Solaris-based Xeon systems.

There are additional marketing initiatives, with Sun and Intel petitioning ISVs to support the Solaris on Xeon environment. Sun claims Solaris already enjoys support from more than 2,000 application makers on over 800 platforms.

What Sun gets out of the deal is exposure of Solaris to Intel's Xeon customers, while Intel gets Xeon further into the datacenter, virtualisation and high performance computing space.

"We're thrilled to be working with Sun to make Solaris on Intel Xeon processors a great solution for our enterprise customers worldwide," said Paul Otellini, president and CEO, Intel. "Bringing together the best technologies from both Sun and Intel will result in innovative products for years to come."

"We're excited about Intel's long term Xeon road map and the performance we're seeing with Solaris and Sun Java on the Xeon platforms," said Jonathan Schwartz, president and CEO of Sun Microsystems. "And Intel's endorsement for and agreement to OEM Solaris opens markets for both of us across the world. This is truly a landmark relationship for the industry."

Sun already sells servers using AMD's Opteron chips and still bills them as outperforming Intel's Xeon: "Up to twice the performance of dual core Xeon servers," it claims.

However, the high performance computing fields Sun and Intel are targeting with the new systems look more likely to eat into Sun's own SPARC processor market.

Schwartz wrote that the initiative is all about exploiting a growing market rather than stealing customers. "These will augment our SPARC and AMD platforms, both of which have been growing double digits over the past year. We're broadening our offerings with Intel's Xeon, and certainly hoping to accelerate our overall growth - into our customers, and into Intel's," he wrote.

"Jointly, we'll build the market, work with ISV's and partners, and help support key customers - and invest our considerable resources to ensure mutual success. To be clear, this isn't about displacing one another's competitors, it's about getting as big a piece of the future as possible. The market's not shrinking, after all."

AMD for its part responded positively to the news. "Competition is good. It drives innovation, differentiation, user value and serves the market demand for choice. The addition of Intel backing Solaris on the x86 platform will expand the market, which is good for all of us," it said in a statement. "Sun Microsystems is a valuable technology partner and we work closely with their engineering team, including collaborating on future roadmaps at the silicon and system level."

For more information, visit the Sun website.

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