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November 1, 1999

Sun Upgrades High-End Graphics Workstations

By CBR Staff Writer

By Dan Jones

Sun Microsystems Inc is looking to fill what it says is a void in the high-end graphics workstation market, with a new workstation, upgrades to the Solaris operating system and hardware price cuts. The company claims that – with SGI seemingly cut adrift – it is the only vendor offering a clear roadmap and stable upgrade path in the market.

The new workstation, the Ultra80, is essentially a beefed up version of the existing Ultra60 line. It can use up to four 450MHz UltraSparc II processors, with 4Gb of onboard memory. It supports Sun’s Elite 3D m6 graphics system. Chris Scheusely, product line manager for the workstation range, said that the Sun graphics architecture was designed to support two future generations of technology, either developed by Sun or licensed from third party vendors. Scheusely was coy about what these future technologies would be, however, he didn’t rule out the MAJC chip architecture that Sun is developing being involved in its plans. A single processor, entry-level Ultra80 costs $15,635.

The Ultra80 is being targeted at the design automation, EDA and oil and gas markets. Scheusely said that he saw Hewlett Packard Co and SGI as the major competition. We’re trying to own some of that high-end space, we see a void there, Scheusely said.

The company has also cut prices on its existing Ultra60 by up to 18%. The entry-level 360MHz machine costs $8,995; while the 450MHz box is now $10,995. Scheusely said that the Ultra60 was intended as rival for high-end Intel-based systems.

The major graphics support to the Desktop Solaris OS common to all of the Ultra range is multiple-monitor support. Dubbed Cinerama, a single image can now be viewed across twelve monitors driven by frame buffers. PDA sync software has also been added to the OS

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