Sun launches Intel Workstation on X38 platform

Following last month's launch of dual-socket and quad-socket Intel-based servers, Sun Microsystems launched its first Intel based workstations in two decades.  The Sun Ultra 24 Workstation is based on the latest Intel X38 chipset (which replaced Intel's 975 chipset).

Following last month's launch of dual-socket and quad-socket Intel-based servers, Sun Microsystems launched its first Intel based workstations in two decades.  The Sun Ultra 24 Workstation is based on the latest Intel X38 chipset (which replaced Intel's 975 chipset).

Equipped with Intel quad-core processors, up to 8 GBs of ECC (Error Correcting Code) DDR2-667 memory, and NVIDIA's Quadro FX graphics cards, the Ultra 24 is targeted at the CAD (Computer Aided Design) market.  When I asked Sun what this meant for Sun's SPARC based workstations, Sun replied that they will continue to sell SPARC as long as there are customers buying them and they still have customers buying SPARC today.

Sun sent me the following standard configurations:

  • B21-TAZ1-AA-512DT $995.00 *Sun Ultra 24 Workstation ROHS-6; 1 * Intel Core2 Duo E4400 2.0Ghz, 512MB Memory, 1 *250GB SATA HDD, NVIDIA NVS290, 1 * DVD-ROM, 1 * 10/100/1000 BaseT Ethernet port, 2 * 1394 Firewire, Audio, 6 * USB2.0 ports, 2 * full-length PCI slots, 4 * PCI-Express slots, Solaris license. Solaris 10 and Sun Development tools pre-installed.
  • B21-TNZ1-AA-1GDU $1,445.00 Sun Ultra 24 Workstation ROHS-6; 1 * Intel Core2 Quad Q6600 2.4Ghz, 1GB Memory, 1 *250GB SATA HDD, NVS290 Graphics, 1 * DVD-ROM, 1 * 10/100/1000 BaseT Ethernet port, 2 * 1394 Firewire, Audio, 6 * USB2.0 ports, 2 * full-length PCI slots, 4 * PCI-Express slots, Solaris license. Solaris 10 and Sun Development tools pre-installed.
  • B21-TGZ1-AC-1GDU $1,835.00 Sun Ultra 24 Workstation ROHS-6; 1 * Intel Core2 Duo E6850 3.0Ghz, 1GB Memory, 1 *250GB SATA HDD, NVIDIA FX 1700, 1 * DVD-Dual, 1 * 10/100/1000 BaseT Ethernet port, 2 * 1394 Firewire, Audio, 6 * USB2.0 ports, 2 * full-length PCI slots, 4 * PCI-Express slots, Solaris license. Solaris 10 and Sun Development tools pre-installed.
  • B21-TSZ1-AA-2GDU $2,335.00 Sun Ultra 24 Workstation ROHS-6; 1 * Intel Core2 Quad Extreme QX6850 3.0Ghz, 2GB Memory, 1 *250GB SATA HDD, NVS290 Graphics, 1 * DVD-Dual, 1

* 10/100/1000 BaseT Ethernet port, 2 * 1394 Firewire, Audio, 6 * USB2.0 ports, 2 * full-length PCI slots, 4 * PCI-Express slots, Solaris license. Solaris 10 and Sun Development tools pre-installed.

Despite the fact that each system is shipped with a Solaris license, Sun also supports a wide range of operating systems such as Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2003, and Red Hat Linux.

The Ultra 24 comes with a hot-swap SATA or SAS 4-drive cage that is accessible when the side panel is removed.  Since this is based on the Intel X38 chipset, it is fair to assume that it is using Intel's ICH9R RAID storage controller which is the same one used in the other 3-series motherboards like the G33 and P35.  If you want to use SAS (Serial Attached SCSI) which is typically used in servers, you will need to use an add-on PCI-Express storage controller.

At this point in time, only Intel's 65nm dual- and quad-core desktop processors are available but I wouldn't be surprised to see some Penryn-based desktop processors being added to the Ultra 24 product line as early as November when Intel launches their 45nm Penryn-based products.  With the Intel 45nm launch coming in a month, I would highly recommend holding off until you can order 45nm CPUs with 50% more cache and SSE4.1 instruction set.  I'm sure Sun and Intel would prefer that you buy now but I'm sure even they understand that there will inevitably be some Osborn effect in effect here with the 45nm launch so close.

While I haven't reviewed this workstation first hand yet, I have to admit the prices look decent for a brand-name workstation and the hardware specifications look good.  With Sun's recent moves in to the Intel Server/Workstation business and selling Microsoft Operating Systems, Sun seems to have shed some of its SPARC and Solaris only religion and I think this can only bring good things to the company.  IBM certainly has no love for Microsoft or Intel but it doesn't stop IBM from being huge partners of Microsoft and Intel while making a bundle of money at it.

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