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Sun to announce four-Opteron server on Monday

The time is nigh for the V40z, sources say, which means Sun is a step further in its effort to expand its product line beyond its own chips.

Sun Microsystems on Monday will launch a server with four Opteron processors, sources said, the latest step in the company's effort to expand its product line beyond its own processors.

After years spent resisting the move, the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company has begun selling servers with x86 chips, such as Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron and Intel's Xeon. The four-Opteron model is called the V40z, said John Fowler, head of Sun's x86 server group, in an earlier interview.

The V40z is the second Opteron system, coming after the dual-processor V20z Sun launched in February. While announcing a return to revenue growth Tuesday, Sun executives said they were pleased with the Opteron sales, though the revenue is not yet materially significant.

Sun declined to comment for this story.

Chief Executive Scott McNealy has said on several occasions that Sun was mistaken not to recognize the market popularity of x86 servers earlier. Now the company is using Opteron and Solaris, Sun's version of the Unix operating system, to try to make up lost time, but it still trails far behind x86 server leaders Hewlett-Packard, Dell and IBM.

Sun sells servers base on Intel's Xeon, too, but is far more gung-ho about Opteron. It acquired Opteron specialist Kealia earlier this year, a move that brought Sun co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim back into the fold.

Sun's ambitions reach beyond today's dual- and four-processor Opteron systems. The company plans "Opteron four-way, eight-way and more-way" servers, said Larry Singer, Sun's senior vice president of worldwide market strategies, in an interview earlier this month.

It appears Opteron really has become a genuine priority alongside Sun's traditional chip line, Sparc, said Illuminata analyst Gordon Haff.

"They really do seem to be pushing both hard and letting the chips fall where they will," Haff said. "They're genuinely happy to sell either--at least so long as they run Solaris."