Sun, iForce Partners Unveil Fire Starter Cluster for Bioinformatics

3/31/2004 - To help customers save time and money in deploying an entry-level bioinformatics solution, Sun Microsystems and its iForce partners for life sciences are delivering the pre-integrated Sun Fire Starter Cluster for Bioinformatics. The Starter Cluster is designed to meet the specific computational needs of small labs, hospitals, Clinical Research Organizations and clinics, without the high IT investment and cost-of-management traditionally associated with a bioinformatics solution. Because it comes ready to run out of the box, the complete solution is designed to enable the bench scientist to perform bioinformatics analytics without the dependency on an IT staff.

"Customers have been asking for an entry-level cluster solution that is ready to deploy, easy to manage and priced affordably for a small lab environment," said Rick Lytel, PhD, CTO of physical and life sciences at Sun Microsystems, Inc. "The Starter Cluster provides them the basic bioinformatics hardware and software to meet their research needs, at a lower total cost of acquisition and ownership than previously available."

The Sun Fire Starter Cluster for Bioinformatics is a powerful 4 node (8 CPU) x86 cluster of Sun Fire V60x and V65x servers, in a small rack designed for operation in any space-constrained environment. The 19-inch rack on rollers is designed to fit under a lab bench, and it uses standard room electrical power outlets without requiring climate-controlled conditions. Initially available for the Linux OS on the Intel Xeon architecture, the solution is expected to be offered on the Opteron processor-based Sun Fire V20z server for both the Linux and Solaris x86 Operating Systems in summer 2004.

The Starter Cluster ships assembled, pre-tested and pre-loaded with the Linux or Solaris OS, Message Passing Interface (MPI), N1 Grid Engine resource management and INCOGEN VIBE (Visual Integrated Bioinformatics Environment) software. The VIBE application for scientific workflow management allows users to manage workflows in an analysis pipeline using a straightforward drag-and-drop interface, integrated with N1 Grid Engine. The BioBox CD of public algorithms, optimized for Solaris and Linux operating systems, is expected to ship with the bundle by summer 2004. Sun plans to include additional life science applications and public codecs as part of the bundled solution in the future.

Because the Sun Fire Starter Cluster for Bioinformatics is built on an open, scalable architecture, it's designed to grow as data loads require. Customers can incorporate the cluster into an existing IT environment, link it with other Starter Clusters, or expand to a full 32 nodes with the Sun Fire V60x Compute Grid rack system. Storage can also be added as necessary.

Pricing and Availability
The Sun Fire Starter Cluster for Bioinformatics is priced below $22,000 U.S. and is available now in North America through the Sun Customer Ready Systems (CRS) program, which integrates Sun and complementary third-party hardware and software products into pre-tested solutions based on customer specifications. The Starter Cluster will also be distributed or supported by select iForce partners, including Corporate Technologies, Helio Solutions and The BioTeam. Worldwide availability of the Starter Cluster is expected in summer 2004.

About Sun Microsystems, Inc.
Since its inception in 1982, a singular vision -- "The Network Is The Computer" -- has propelled Sun Microsystems, Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) to its position as a leading provider of industrial-strength hardware, software and services that make the Net work. Sun can be found in more than 100 countries and on the World Wide Web at

Sun, Sun Microsystems, the Sun logo, Sun Fire, Solaris, N1 and iForce are trademarks or registered trademarks of Sun Microsystems, Inc. in the United States and other countries.

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