It looks like Sun and Intel are together again in the workstation space. Sun just introduced the new Ultra 24 desktop, matching a Core 2 Duo, Quad or Extreme processor with an nVidia card and up to 8 GB of memory.
And in yet another example of Sun's new-found determination to open up its architecture, the units will support Red Hat, Suse and Ubuntu Linux, as well as Vista, XP and Server 2003.
Why jump back into Intel's lap after all these years? Simple economics. While Sun never had a commanding presence in the workstation market, it continued to show dismal results even after embracing the Opteron last year. IDC reports the company only shipped 13,000 units in the second quarter, compared to six-figure volume sales for Dell and HP.
But an even bigger question is whether this is the right time to concentrate on desktops at all. If the economy cools as expected, IT budgets are likely to take a hit, leading many execs to either stretch their hardware refresh cycles out further or embrace new low-cost alternatives to the PC, such as the virtual desktop.
Either way, PC sales could start sagging for everyone very soon.