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Sun Microsystems Hardware

Sun Announces Its First Laptop 365

Posted by samzenpus
from the new-machine dept.
boarder8925 writes "Enterprise computer maker Sun Microsystems announced its first-ever laptop yesterday, saying the machine was designed to let engineers and scientists perform demanding computer tasks away from their desks. Sun, which has seen sales fall for the last four years, said that it was also lowering prices for some of its computers by up to 40 percent."
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Sun Announces Its First Laptop

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @07:18PM (#12946193)
    There was a company called Tadpole that made SPARC laptops before. Dunno if they're still around.
  • by hsmith (818216) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @07:19PM (#12946200)
    at work for a project, they have been out for a long time AFAIK

    plus they run about $17,000 they aren't cheap. i don't know where this article is coming from at all.
  • by BrK (39585) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @07:21PM (#12946209) Homepage
    I had a Sun laptop in something like '97. And it wasn't brand new even then.
  • by Agent Green (231202) * on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @07:21PM (#12946210)
    Tadpole is still around. Lots of goodies here:

    http://www.tadpolecomputer.com/html/products/mobil e/ [tadpolecomputer.com]

    No prices listed, but they have SPARC laptops!
  • by gpw213 (691600) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @07:29PM (#12946277)
    I had a Sun laptop in something like '97. And it wasn't brand new even then.

    There have been Sparc laptops for a long time. They were never build by Sun, though. And they were also hideously expensive, i.e. in the $20,000 range. This is Sun's first foray into this highly dubious market segment.

  • Specifications (Score:5, Informative)

    by Noksagt (69097) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @07:29PM (#12946280) Homepage
    One of:
    UltraSPARC IIi (550 MHz or 650 MHz)
    UltraSPARC IIIi (1.28 GHz)

    Up to:
    2 GB SDRAM

    Either
    80-GB IDE HD
    73-GB UltraSCSI HD

    802.11
    Solaris 10
    JDE
  • Re:$3,400 (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @07:36PM (#12946324)
    Its not even a Sparc its an AMD running x86 Solaris 10...

    That's not correct. The $3,400 laptop is Sparc. The $895 workstation is AMD. From TFA:

    "The Ultra 3 Mobile Workstation will list at $3,400 and is equipped with Sun's Ultrasparc processor, the Solaris 10 operating system, 512 megabytes of memory, a 40 gigabyte hard drive and WiFi connectivity."
  • by DAldredge (2353) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @07:40PM (#12946353) Journal
    By Ashlee Vance in Chicago
    Published Monday 27th June 2005 14:42 GMT

    Sun Microsystems has polished off its cheapest and likely most attractive Opteron-based workstation to date.

    The hardware maker today introduced the world to the Ultra 20 a one-way (one socket) box that starts at $895. That price has to please a lot of Sun customers who complained when the much higher-end W2100z amd W1100z workstations arrived, costing thousands of dollars. With the Ultra 20, Sun is really delivering some of the price/performance benefits associated with x86 chips to the developer crowd.

    Sun has long been a major player in the workstation market, pumping out Solaris on SPARC boxes for engineers, developers and designers. The rise, however, of Intel Xeon's processor ate into a huge chunk of Sun's workstation share. Sun's line of Opteron-based systems is its response to this loss, and the Ultra 20 is the first box in this line aimed square at developers.

    Sun unveiled the system at its Java One conference which starts today in San Francisco.

    "This system is meant to reach a much broader audience," said John Fowler, Sun's vice president in charge of the x86 systems. "Java One is the world's biggest developer conference, so it made sense to show it off there."

    While you can buy the Ultra 20 flat out just like any another bit of hardware, Sun also has a much weirder pricing option. Customers can pay $30 per month over three years ($1,080) and get the system, Solaris 10, Java Studio Enterprise 7, Java Studio Creator and support. This package full of Java tools is meant for the developer crowd.

    Initially, the Ultra 20 will ship with a single-core version - 1.8GHz to 2.6GHz - of AMD's Opteron. As El Reg reported last week, AMD will make a dual-core version of this 100 Series chip available in the third quarter. (AMD confirmed the move to customers in a note issued Friday.)

    The Ultra 20 also ships with up to 4GB of memory, up to 2 SATA drives (80GB or 250GB), six USB 2.0 ports and two IEEE 1394a ports. The box will run Solaris x86, Red Hat and SuSE Linux 32-bit and 64-bit and Windows XP Pro 32-bit and 64-bit.

    Sun continues to see a sharp rise in it Opteron system sales. The company is currently battling with HP for the top spot among all Opteron server sellers.

    Sun has enjoyed particular success in Germany where it holds 41 per cent of the Opteron server market versus 23 per cent for HP, according to the first quarter figures from Gartner.

    You can see the Ultra 20 in all its glory available here.

    Along with the Ultra 20, Sun also pointed to the new Ultra 3 Mobile Workstation, which runs on its UltraSPARC chip and starts at $3,400. This system looks like a rebranded version of a Tadpole laptop. ®

    http://www.sun.com/desktop/workstation/ultra20/rev [sun.com] iews.jsp
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/06/27/sun_ultra2 [theregister.co.uk] 0_opteron/
  • by toby (759) * on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @07:42PM (#12946368) Homepage Journal
    Sun's SPARCstation Voyager [milestonesolutions.com] (1994) may not have been a laptop exactly, but "transportable" and at 12lb dubbed a "nomadic" solution... Maybe something like the 15.8lb Mac Portable [lowendmac.com] (1989), a.k.a. the "Luggable".
  • by DAldredge (2353) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @07:43PM (#12946378) Journal
    By Ashlee Vance in Chicago
    Published Monday 27th June 2005 14:42 GMT

    Sun Microsystems has polished off its cheapest and likely most attractive Opteron-based workstation to date.

    The hardware maker today introduced the world to the Ultra 20 a one-way (one socket) box that starts at $895. That price has to please a lot of Sun customers who complained when the much higher-end W2100z amd W1100z workstations arrived, costing thousands of dollars. With the Ultra 20, Sun is really delivering some of the price/performance benefits associated with x86 chips to the developer crowd.

    Sun has long been a major player in the workstation market, pumping out Solaris on SPARC boxes for engineers, developers and designers. The rise, however, of Intel Xeon's processor ate into a huge chunk of Sun's workstation share. Sun's line of Opteron-based systems is its response to this loss, and the Ultra 20 is the first box in this line aimed square at developers.

    Sun unveiled the system at its Java One conference which starts today in San Francisco.

    "This system is meant to reach a much broader audience," said John Fowler, Sun's vice president in charge of the x86 systems. "Java One is the world's biggest developer conference, so it made sense to show it off there."

    While you can buy the Ultra 20 flat out just like any another bit of hardware, Sun also has a much weirder pricing option. Customers can pay $30 per month over three years ($1,080) and get the system, Solaris 10, Java Studio Enterprise 7, Java Studio Creator and support. This package full of Java tools is meant for the developer crowd.

    Initially, the Ultra 20 will ship with a single-core version - 1.8GHz to 2.6GHz - of AMD's Opteron. As El Reg reported last week, AMD will make a dual-core version of this 100 Series chip available in the third quarter. (AMD confirmed the move to customers in a note issued Friday.)

    The Ultra 20 also ships with up to 4GB of memory, up to 2 SATA drives (80GB or 250GB), six USB 2.0 ports and two IEEE 1394a ports. The box will run Solaris x86, Red Hat and SuSE Linux 32-bit and 64-bit and Windows XP Pro 32-bit and 64-bit.

    Sun continues to see a sharp rise in it Opteron system sales. The company is currently battling with HP for the top spot among all Opteron server sellers.

    Sun has enjoyed particular success in Germany where it holds 41 per cent of the Opteron server market versus 23 per cent for HP, according to the first quarter figures from Gartner.

    You can see the Ultra 20 in all its glory available here.

    Along with the Ultra 20, Sun also pointed to the new Ultra 3 Mobile Workstation, which runs on its UltraSPARC chip and starts at $3,400. This system looks like a rebranded version of a Tadpole laptop. ®

    http://www.sun.com/desktop/workstation/ultra20/rev [sun.com] iews.jsp
    http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/06/27/sun_ultra2 [theregister.co.uk] 0_opteron/
  • by neosake (655724) * on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @07:46PM (#12946407) Homepage
    here's a link to the actual product page http://www.sun.com/desktop/workstation/ultra3/inde x.xml [sun.com]
  • by mrbill (4993) <mrbill@mrbill.net> on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @07:46PM (#12946409) Homepage
    Sun is just reselling the Tadpole and Naturetech portables. I've got one of the Naturetech systems right now (for review on sunhelp.org) and <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/mrbill/sets/489 821/">some pictures up</a>. It's *very* nice, but *very* pricey.
  • by daveschroeder (516195) * on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @07:56PM (#12946460)
    They're just reselling the Sparc laptops that have been around for *ages*:

    http://www.sun.com/desktop/workstation/ultra3/ [sun.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @07:56PM (#12946464)
  • by Guy Harris (3803) <guy@alum.mit.edu> on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @07:59PM (#12946487)
    i don't know where this article is coming from at all.

    It's coming from Sun announcing [sun.com] the Sun Ultra 3 Mobile Workstation [sun.com], although the picture on that page suggests that perhaps Sun are just re-branding Tadpole and Naturetech SPARC laptops. (The announcement mainly talks about a new x86 workstation, but it also mentions the SPARC laptops.)

    The article didn't say "first SPARC laptop", it said "Sun announces its first laptop", i.e. the first one that Sun is selling as a Sun, rather than somebody else selling it as a SPARC-compatible.

    The Sun announcement clearly says "Entry-level pricing for the Sun Ultra 3 Mobile Workstation begins at $3,400 (USD)." Perhaps, as they've "been out for a long time", your workplace bought SPARC workstations when they were a lot more expensive.

  • Well technically... (Score:5, Informative)

    by bluGill (862) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @08:05PM (#12946523)

    Back before the sparc, and after the 68020 sun3, Sun had some i386 machines that you could call wintel. (though nobody used Windows then, and I'm not sure if Dos would run). They also made the sun3x in those days, both of which didn't sell many. (In part because the sparc soon came out, and in those days the sparc killed the 80386.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @08:06PM (#12946526)
    you likely either had a tadpole or a rdi laptop, not a sun laptop. The sparcbooks were tadpole, and rdi had powerlite laptops. Both were sparc based and ran sunos4 or sunos5.

    I believe the closest thing sun came to a laptop before now was the voyager luggable.
  • by keesh (202812) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @08:25PM (#12946638) Homepage
    The SPARC laptops start at around five thousand dollars. Oh, and they won't boot Linux, and Tadpole have repeatedly refused to provide access to hardware or documentation despite customer demand and offers from various high profile kernel hackers to do a port.
  • by myowntrueself (607117) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @08:37PM (#12946733)
    "There was a company called Tadpole that made SPARC laptops before."

    And then theres the SPARCstation Voyager, actually made by Sun. If you can call it a 'laptop'. It can be battery powered and has an LCD screen.

    Might be a bit incomfortable on the lap though...
  • Todayear. (Score:4, Informative)

    by itomato (91092) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @08:49PM (#12946837)
    I can't find any evidence of this being a Sun branded computer.

    The info page shows a Tadpole [tadpolecomputer.com] and a Naturetech [naturetechws.com] notebook.

    So these still seem to be SPARC notebooks.

    Tadpole makes a Dual CPU SPARC [tadpolecomputer.com] notebook, BTW
  • I bothered to track down the prices a while back, and they were INSANE. $20k was around their low end, if I recall.
  • by libra-dragon (701553) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @09:02PM (#12946923)
    http://www.sun.com/desktop/workstation/ultra3/inde x.xml [sun.com]

    and Naturetechs... Sun is just reselling the two laptops. Not even a rebadging --weak.

  • I totally agree. Looks nice and has a 3yr warranty - what comes with a warranty that long (without paying extra)? And this looks like an interesting 90 day trial offer [sun.com]:

    If you do not wish to keep the system, you must notify Sun in writing (by email to ultra20_try_buy@sun.com) with your order confirmation number within 90 days of the product shipment date. If Sun does not receive your email cancellation within such 90-day period, you will be charged the price listed for the product at the time of your order. In the event of cancellation, Sun will be responsible for picking up the equipment from you.
  • by AstroDrabb (534369) * on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @09:17PM (#12947027)
    Why did mods mod up the GP and not this? I always hear about how "Sun boxes are tanks". However I have not seen that to be the case. Sun boxes fail as much as any other box. A Sun server will have redundant parts, just as any other real server should have. I work at a fortune 500 and all of our Oracle and PeopleSoft servers are running on Sun/Sparc boxes (though I pushed for x86 Linux which was 1/3 the cost and at least twice the performance, though I digress). In the past year we have had two processors fail, some memory sticks fail and about 8 NICs fail on our Sun boxes. So exactly _where_ is this great Sun/Sparc reliability? I will admit that Sun has very good enterprise class support, though so do many other big vendors. Sun doesn't make all the internals, just like no other major U.S. computer vendor does. So your are really not going to get any more hardware reliability from a Sun/Sparc server than you would get with a _much_ faster and far less expensive x86 based server. Heck, if you don't need more than a 2-way box, you can get better price and performance from an Apple Xserve G5.

    Your not going to get any more reliability out of a Sun server than you would get with an equivalent, yet less expensive, x86 based server.

    Oh, and to get back on topic, why would someone want a dog-slow Sparc for a laptop? Is there really any software out there that _only_ runs on Sparc Solaris and not x86 Solaris or Linux? Your going to get far more performance and a much better price out of an x86 laptop than a Sparc based one. Just RTFA! The Sparc laptop is $3,400! The specs on it suck. 512MB and 40GB? For $3,400 for a laptop, I better be getting some state-of-the-art hardware and not some dog-slow sparc with poor specs. ; )

  • by illumin8 (148082) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @09:56PM (#12947232) Journal
    Does anyone have experience with partnering with Sun on the hardware end of things? What kind of reputation do they have? Or can anyone suggest another server vendor that I could investigate? I realize there are a thousand white box vendors out there, but I'm more interested in a mature partner program: coop marketing opportunities, top-notch support resources, etc.

    As a former Sun Systems Support Engineer (SSE, basically onsite hardware/OS support), I can probably answer this for you.

    First of all, you're right about the price. Sun servers, especially the UltraSparc line of servers tend to be much more pricey than your average x86 server vendor. They also tend to be relatively slow in CPU-speed, but make up for this in spades with I/O throughput and memory bandwidth. You see, Sun was one of the first server vendors to have the full 64-bit support necessary for large enterprise databases that banks, telcos and other high-end OLTP outfits require. For the first time you could run an Oracle instance on a single server with up to 106 CPUs and 512GB (that's half a terabyte) of physical memory. Of course there are only limited market segments that need this technology, but during the .com days, everybody thought they needed it and this is how Sun got away with charging ridiculous prices for this type of servers.

    Now that the reality of the IT market has been back in effect, Sun has realized it can't keep up with Intel and AMD on the CPU speed front, so Sun has decided to focus on its great operating system and Unix that can scale so well and perform on such a large number of processors, and hopefully sell some nice AMD Opteron servers to run their great, full-featured Unix OS on.

    One of the benefits that Sun can offer is true enterprise, 24/7, international on-site and telephone support. If you have an investment bank that's located in 10 countries worldwide, at stock exchanges in London, NY, Singapore, etc., and you want a single 1-800 number to call for a 2-hour onsite response, 2 hour fix time repair on your Oracle database cluster, Sun is a great choice. They are truly on the level of IBM Global Services and only a couple others when it comes to knowledgeable onsite support.

    Their newer AMD Opteron server offerings are starting to be much more competitively priced than HP or Dell in the x86 arena. You also have the advantage of natively running either Solaris 10 x86-64 or Linux on the same hardware, with enterprise level onsite support.

    Whether Sun can turn themselves around in the market or not is one question, but they provide so many services to government agencies and fortune 500 corporations at the highest levels that their continued survival (in however small a role that might be) in the computer industry is pretty much guaranteed. When their systems are used on a lot of military installations, do you really think the US government would let them go out of business or sell off their assets to a foreign corporation?

    Anyway, Sun is a solid choice and reliable server provider, with a true enterprise level support channel. I no longer work there, but I know enough people that do to know you can't really go wrong recommending them.

  • Re:Keyboards (Score:2, Informative)

    by dysk (621566) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @10:59PM (#12947565)
    My RDI Powerlite sparc 110Mhz laptop has the full sun-specific keyboard. I love having the extra keys.

    From looking at the product photos on Sun's website, it appears that the 15" model has a standard laptop keyboard and the 17" model has a customized keyboard.
  • by asbjxrn (825716) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @11:29PM (#12947707)
    Heck, if you don't need more than a 2-way box, you can get better price and performance from an Apple Xserve G5.

    But how about a Sun opeteron box?
    Sun v20z: 2x Opteron 248, 2GB Ram, 1x73GB disk, $3000: http://store.sun.com/CMTemplate/CEServlet?process= SunStore&cmdViewProduct_CP&catid=111394 [sun.com]
    G5 Xserve: 2x G5 2.3Ghz, 1GB Ram, 1x 80GB disk, $4000: http://store.apple.com/1-800-MY-APPLE/WebObjects/A ppleStore.woa/70902/wo/Oo1dIs4kylfo25YF33W1KKyrgua /0.0.11.1.0.6.15.0.3.1.3.0.3.1.6.1.1.0 [apple.com]

  • by Chuck Chunder (21021) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @11:30PM (#12947714) Homepage Journal
    I have a Powerlite sitting on the floor at home doing nothing. It's a heavy bugger!
  • by veldstra (107520) on Wednesday June 29, 2005 @11:54PM (#12947818)
    SUN may not build tanks anymore, but I think they're building the mercedes'. When going for SUN you get a machine that will do an exceptional milage, maybe not with the biggest bang for the buck, but with an extreme reliability. I've seen computers from just about every brand available on this planet, and what amazes me most with SUN is their eye for detail. With rack servers for instance, you always get an extra screw and casenut because they know that sooner or later one of them falls from your hands when installing them... I know it's most of the time a meaningless detail, but I still need to find another manufacturer that thinks of this.
  • by LarryWake (855436) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @01:51AM (#12948228)
    Tons of laptops might work with Solaris (though, I'll admit, Solaris is quite limited)... but no one will ever know...
    ...unless you cheat and look at the Solaris Hardware Compatibility List [sun.com], which currently lists 175 different laptop models.
  • Re:Get yours now! (Score:2, Informative)

    by mlk (18543) <michael DOT lloy ... DOT org AT gmai> on Thursday June 30, 2005 @02:52AM (#12948430) Homepage Journal
    Every other laptop out there is x86 or Apple.


    Tadpole SparcLE [tadpolecomputer.com] has been out an age.

  • by merlyn (9918) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @03:42AM (#12948576) Homepage Journal
    ... who are too young to remember the Sparcbook [xs4all.nl].

    First ever!!!?? Sheesh.

  • by Builder (103701) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @04:17AM (#12948657)
    Here's some anecdotal evidence for you...

    The bank I work for started their Linux initiative, so we bought in boxes from Dell, HP and Sun to trial Linux on. 2 Dell 2850's, 3 HP DL-380's and 3 Sun Fire V65x's.

    Firstly, the sun's don't ship with hardware RAID by default. As soon as you add this, they start to look more expensive than all of the competition.

    Within the first 6 months I had one critical hardware failure PER MACHINE! And even though these machines were under maintenance, Sun considers a motherboard in a V65x to be a user servicable component. So when the board blew, I had to swap out the memory, the disks and the CPUs into another box. This is NOT what I pay maintenance for!

    We had no problems at all with the HPs or the Dells.

    On the enterprise hardware front, I've had two major failures in the last 2 days. For one of them, sun advise that I leave a terminal connected in the data centre and run down and see what messages are on the screen when it crashes. This is what you pay sun for!
  • by GreatDrok (684119) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @04:17AM (#12948658) Journal
    I had one of those Sun boxes. It was called the SUN 386i and it had a 386DX at 20Mhz with 8MB of RAM. It ran SUNOS 4.0.x and was actually pretty quick and able to run X11R4 nicely albeit with only an 8bit framebuffer. There were prototypes of a 486i but that was killed before many were made. The architecture was very different from a PC; the only real similarity was that it used an Intel processor but there was no way to boot DOS. Upgrade options were limited so I replaced it with a SPARC1 although I kept the 19" Trinitron monitor and Type 4 keyboard and optical mouse I had with the 386.

    Think of these things as the precursor to the Macintosh with Intel processor due next year. The CPU may have been Intel but the box was SUN all the way through.
  • by DrHyde (134602) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @04:53AM (#12948728) Homepage
    ... they're just reselling the Sparc laptops that Tadpole and Naturetech have already been making for ages. As you can see by the image in the top left of this page [sun.com].
  • Re:Poor track record (Score:3, Informative)

    by illumin8 (148082) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @08:57AM (#12949379) Journal
    Just keep in mind that Sun has a very consistent track record of trying out the low end market, only to decide that they'd be better off sticking with the high end, after all. You may end up stuck with no support in just a few months.

    I call bullshit. Name me one Sun hardware product that they have dropped support for before the support lifecycle was over? There isn't one. Sun's hardware support is second to none. They guarantee that a box you buy now will continue to be supported up until 5 years after the product is EOLd (end of life). This means that in 2007, when they stop selling whatever Opteron server you're buying from them today (like the V40z or whatever), you'll still get full hardware support until 2012 !!! Name me one beige box vendor that guarantees that. In fact, name me one x86 hardware vendor that does that. I don't think there are any.

  • by rimmon (608966) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @12:25PM (#12951101)
    Well, it's not the first laptop with a sparc processor or the first to be running Solaris. But it sure is the first FROM SUN. And that's waht the article said.
    The Sparcbook was made by Tadpole. BTW, these guys are still alive and kicking, check out the Bullfrog, old man! :)
  • by mlrtime (520968) on Thursday June 30, 2005 @02:32PM (#12952174)
    OT

    Good analogy, Mercedes went from being #1 in terms of reliability in 1990 to the bottom of list in 2000. In a ten year stretch the company went from releasing cars when the engineer said they are ready to releasing on a deadline and sacrificing reliability.

    Add to this the fact they are trying to push more electronic gadgets in their cars, this adds to the common breakdowns in their top model cars. .02

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