Sun Microsystems Inc was very sniffy when our sister paper Unigram.X first revealed the existence of the low-end Sparc RISC code-named Tsunami, saying it couldn’t see why anybody would be interested in it. There won’t be a trace of such sniffiness today: it will want the whole world to gasp in awe at its daring […]
Sun Microsystems Inc was very sniffy when our sister paper Unigram.X first revealed the existence of the low-end Sparc RISC code-named Tsunami, saying it couldn’t see why anybody would be interested in it. There won’t be a trace of such sniffiness today: it will want the whole world to gasp in awe at its daring and enterprise when it launches the first machines using the new chip, and will borrow from the John Lewis Partnership’s famous battle-cry Never knowlingly undersold. Sun’s Tsunami sales forces are said to have orders from Sun chief Scott McNealy to be animalistic, ripping up the old price list in an attempt to stand the computer industry status quo on its head. It is believed this instruction will translate into an entry-level Tsumani box that breaks not only the $5,000 barrier but the $4,000 barrier as well. At press time Sun was still chipping away at the price of the Tsunami Classic, so named because Sun expects it to become the standard by which all others are judged. It is unlikely to be more than $4,000 and could be slashed even more by this morning’s launch. The 59 MIPS colour machine, to be available immediately, will come with a 50MHz Tsunami engine, the Sun-Texas Instruments Inc chip now renamed MicroSparc, 16Mb to 96Mb of internal memory, 200Mb to 424Mb disk, two Sbus slots and 8-bit colour.
Faster than a 66MHz Pentium
The entry-level model will have a 15 screen, new to Sun, capable of putting up 1,024 by 768 pixels, the standard Sun resolution. There will also be 16 and 19 displays available. Sun will tout the Classic as two to three times faster than a top-of-the-line Intel Corp 50MHz 80486 machine and even faster than machines using the forthcoming 66MHz Pentium part in the iAPX-86 family. The Classic is expecetd to do 4.6 MFLOPS, 26.6 SPECint and 21 SPECfp. An up-scale model, dubbed the LX, is expected to cost between $8,000 and $9,000. It will come equipped with 424Mb disk standard, expandable to 1Gb, a GX accelerator for graphics, CD-quality audio and ISDN standard. Both will run only the new Solaris 2.1. To cut the fat out of the Classic’s price tag, Sun will adopt a policy historically alien to the computer industry, the no dicker sticker that US automakers like General Motors Corp and Ford Motor Co are experimenting with. The Classic’s list price, and only the Classic’s, will not be discounted. How Sun gets its resellers to toe this line remains to be seen. Sun also expects to make money on the box by taking business away from high-end personal computers, with the LX in particular aimed at personal computer design automation accounts; it also hopes to attract a new set of customers lured by the promise that Tsunami, by offering better value, will improve the depreciation schedule. A Sun Microsystems Computer Corp vice-president, before biting his tongue, claimed it would be a piece of cake getting 100,000 units out the door in the next year, which would be close to half the volume Sun currently does in a year.