Sun Microsystems Inc. is reaching for a larger share of the blade server market with its launch June 6 of new models, including the first-ever Sun blades from its new alliance with chip maker Intel Corp.

Sun said the Sun Blade X6250 (starting list price: US$3,695) is a two-socket server with dual-core Intel Xeon processors in each socket. It’s the first Intel-based Sun server since the two companies announced in January a deal for joint engineering, design and marketing of Intel’s chips and Sun’s Solaris operating system. Previously, the only x86 architecture processors Sun used were from Advanced Micro Devices Inc.

Sun also unveiled the Sun Blade X6220 ($3,995), a two-socket blade powered by dual-core AMD Opteron processors and the T6300 ($5,995) one-socket blade powered by Sun’s own UltraSPARC T1 processor. Sun also introduced the Sun Blade 6000 chassis ($4,995), which can hold up to 10 Sun blade servers and provide power, cooling and network connections to them. A user could install any combination of AMD, Intel and Sun-powered blades in one chassis.

By offering Sun, AMD and Intel processors in a blade form factor, “this is the most open and versatile blade platform out on the market,” said Mike McNerney, director of Sun’s blades server product line. “It is a compelling and interesting proposition.”

By using Intel inside its blades, Sun can now serve customers who favour the Intel processor platform, said Matthew Eastwood, group vice-president for enterprise platform research at IDC. AMD made a good run at Intel with competitive processors in recent years but Intel has re-established itself as the leader.

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