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Sun bumps Sparc chip to 336 MHz

Sun boosts the speed of its UltraSparc II microprocessor to 336 MHz, retaking its speed lead from Intel in server chips.

Sun Microsystems has boosted the speed of its UltraSparc II microprocessor to 336 MHz, in the process retaking its speed lead over Intel in server chips.

With the acquisition of Digital by Compaq, Sun is increasingly viewed as the last, or at least the most significant, processor competitor for Intel on the server and workstation level. Late last month, Intel introduced a 333-MHz version of the Pentium II, which in terms of raw clock speed beat out Sun's top-of-the-line 300-MHz UltraSparc II.

UltraSparc II processors, however, are based around a 64-bit architecture, a more robust and scalable processor design which Intel will not achieve until the release of Merced in 1999. Sun also recently released an integrated processor, the UltraSparc II(i), to contest Intel's strong suit, namely price. (Intel is an investor in CNET: The Computer Network.).

The UltraSparc II 336-MHz chip comes on a processor module which contains 4MB of external cache. The modules are compatible with Sun Enterprise Server products from the 3000 to the 10000 family of models, which represents the mid-range to the high-end of the company's offerings. These servers can accommodate up to 64 processors, according to the company.

These servers range in price from in the $40,000 range to more than $1 million. The new UltraSparc chip itself goes for $19,000.

New Sun servers based on the 336-MHz UltraSparc II will follow.