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Fujitsu upgrades Unix servers

Five of its PrimePower machines now use a version of Fujitsu's Sparc64 processor compatible with Sun's UltraSparc chips.

Weeks after introducing a new high-end server family using Intel's Itanium processor, Fujitsu has upgraded a separate product based on its own Sparc64 processor.

Five models of the company's new PrimePower machines now are available with 2.08GHz Sparc64 processors, the company said Tuesday. The processors, faster than earlier models running at 1.35GHz or 1.89GHz, are compatible with Sun Microsystems' UltraSparc chips.

Servers with Sparc chips run Sun's Solaris version of Unix, but the addition of Itanium-based servers in April gave Fujitsu high-end servers that can run two other operating systems, Linux initially and Microsoft Windows later.

"They're hedging their bets and trying to be partners in both markets," said Gartner analyst John Enck. "It's hard to place a bet on one or the other. Itanium isn't growing by leaps and bounds, and neither is Sparc."

Fujitsu's systems include the behemoth PrimePower 2500 that accommodates as many as 128 processors and has a starting cost of $553,000 for a bare-bones model with only four processors and 8GB of memory. The least expensive machine to come with the new chip is the PrimePower 650, with two processors and a starting price of $42,780, Fujitsu said. In between, the company is also upgrading its intermediate models, the 850, 900 and 1500 systems.

Machines in the company's PrimeQuest line of Itanium systems have as many as 32 processors. The company said earlier this year it would ship a 64-processor model later, but that system actually is an upgrade that brings dual-core processors to the existing product.

Through a partnership with Sun, the two companies will build servers based on Fujitsu's upcoming Sparc64 VI processor, code-named Olympus. And Fujitsu will sell forthcoming Sun systems using Sun's "Niagara" processor, though not necessarily its high-end cousin, "Rock."

Sun also sells the Fujitsu servers. It scrapped development of its own UltraSparc V processor in favor of the partnership to use Fujitsu's forthcoming Sparc64 VI.