Sun tiptoes into video-on-demand servers

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Sun tiptoes into video-on-demand servers

Vendor unveils Sun Fire X4950 video switch.

Sun Microsystems has unveiled a new switch that aims to dramatically cut the cost of delivering a video-on-demand stream for cable and telecoms providers. 

The Sun Fire X4950 is part of Sun's Streaming System that also includes the Sun Fire X4500 data server and the Sun Fire X4100.  

The X4500, better known by its Thumper codename, combines a two-socket Opteron server with up to 24TB of disk storage. The X4100 is a two-way Opteron server. 

The new switch features 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports and offers a maximum 32 of these ports, making for a combined capacity of 320Gbps.

The entire system scales to up to 160,000 simultaneous video streams at a 2Mbps bit rate, or 20,000 high definition 16Mbps streams. The hardware costs amount to roughly Us$50 per stream at a regular definition.

Sun claimed that the system delivers 10 times the streaming capacity of competing platforms and undercuts their costs.

The Streaming System was originally developed at Kealia, a company co-founded by Sun co-founder Andy Bechtolsheim. Sun acquired Kealia in February 2004 and appointed Bechtolsheim as chief architect.

Sun aims the new system at telecoms providers as well as specialised internet players.

The server could stream regular pay-per-view video, offer individual subscribers a remote digital video recorder or power on-demand and user-generated content such as YouTube videos.

The vendor also expects operators to come up with new applications, such as inserting personalised advertisements into a video stream or broadcast signal.

Sun is new to the IPTV market. The space is mainly populated by network providers such as Cisco Systems as well as specialised video-on-demand players.

Sun expects that the price and scalability of its Streaming System will allow it to penetrate these entrenched markets.
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