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Sun upgrades low-end server chips

Sun Microsystems speeds up the chips used in two lower-end servers, a crucial step in staving off competition from Intel-based servers.

Sun Microsystems has sped up the processors used in two lower-end servers, the company said Tuesday, a crucial step in staving off competition from Intel-based servers.

Although Sun recently has let Intel processors creep into its low-end server line, the vast majority of its business continues to involve its own UltraSparc processors, and Sun continues to maintain it will be able to keep the chips competitive with Intel's products. Sun designs the UltraSparcs, although Texas Instruments builds them.

The 280R server, introduced nearly two years ago, previously came with two 900MHz UltraSparc III processors but now is available with 1.015GHz chips.

The new models, which are about 17 percent faster, come with the Solaris 8 OS. A model with 2GB of memory and the new processors costs about $20,000.

In addition, Sun upgraded the V100, the least expensive of its servers, a rack-mountable machine 1.75 inches thick that uses one of the older UltraSparc processors. The new versions use 550MHz or 640MHz UltraSparc IIi chips instead of the lower-end 500MHz IIe processors used in the earlier products.

An entry-level version of the V100 costs $995 with just 256MB of memory, but a more powerful version with 2GB of memory and the 650MHz processor costs $3,995.