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Sun debuts blade, hardware subscription plan

Refresh service gives server customers at least three upgrades to the latest hardware in 42 months.

Sun Microsystems announced a new four-Opteron blade model Tuesday and a plan that lets blade server customers "subscribe" to the latest hardware from the company.

Sun's X8420 blade houses four 8000-series dual-core Opteron processors from Advanced Micro Devices--the "Rev F" models that later this year can be upgraded to quad-core "Barcelona" series chips. The previously available X8400 blades use the earlier 800 series Opterons running at 2GHz, 2.2GHz and 2.6GHz, but the 8000 models run at 2.4GHz, 2.6GHz and 2.8GHz.

The X8420 plugs into the Sun Blade 8000 or 8000 P chassis and has a starting price of $13,095, Sun said.

And for those who want to pay in a different way, Sun announced its refresh service that gives customers at least three upgrades to the latest hardware in 42 months. If Sun fails to deliver three upgrades, the company will refund an unspecified amount of money to the customer at the end of the term.

The subscription costs $23,000 per month for a Sun Blade 8000 server, Sun said in a brochure about the option. For comparison, higher-end configurations of the Sun Blade 8000 cost more than $200,000.

The Sun Blade 8000 chassis is a whopping 33.25 inches tall, though Sun released a smaller 24.5-inch model called the Sun Blade P in November for high-performance computing tasks. Both systems can accommodate as many as 10 four-processor blades.