Top Sun, IBM servers coming a week apart

Sun will release its new top-end Unix server, code-named StarCat, on Sept. 26, and sources say IBM will release its rival "Regatta" machine less than a week later.

Sun will release its new top-end Unix server, code-named StarCat, on Sept. 26, and sources say IBM will release its rival "Regatta" machine less than a week later.

Sun has sent an invitation to reporters and others saying Chief Operating Officer Ed Zander will unveil the company's new data center product Sept. 26 in New York. Though not mentioning the product by name, the company has been promising the StarCat debut for September, and analysts expect it then.

IBM, meanwhile, is planning an Oct. 2 announcement date for its dueling Regatta server, sources familiar with the plan said.

High-end Unix servers are growing closer to mainframes in design and power, and StarCat and Regatta will be the closest approach so far to the traditional kings of the server world. Both models will feature sophisticated abilities that will allow them to divide jobs into several independent partitions on the same server, the companies have said.

Both systems employ new chip designs. Sun has said it's likely to debut the newer 900MHz UltraSparc III chips in the StarCat. IBM's Power4 chip will make its first appearance in Regatta.

IBM has said Regatta can accommodate up to 32 processors, while sources have said StarCat will use 72 in business configurations and 108 in high-performance computing configurations.

The arrival of StarCat will nearly complete the Sun UltraSparc III server line. Sun also is working on "Cherrystone," a new low-end server using the UltraSparc III chip.

Meanwhile, IBM already has begun an online Regatta advertising campaign with a secret agent trying to uncover secrets of the new server.

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