[FoRK] Bechtolscheim returns to Sun

Rohit Khare Rohit at ICS.uci.edu
Thu Feb 12 09:28:26 PST 2004

[Joy out, AndyB in... I can only imagine what straits they'd be in if I 
saw VK was going back to clean things up! :-) --RK]

Return of the prodigal Sun
By Stephen Shankland
Staff Writer, CNET News.com

Story last modified February 11, 2004, 1:00 PM PST

SAN FRANCISCO--Nine years after leaving the server maker he co-founded 
in 1982, Andy Bechtolsheim is returning to Sun Microsystems.

Scott McNealy, CEO, Sun Microsystems At Sun, Bechtolsheim will pick up 
where he left off: designing computers. This time, he'll be working to 
share more technology between servers that use Sun's UltraSparc 
processors and those using Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron processor, 
he said in an interview after a radiant Chief Executive Scott McNealy 
welcomed the co-founder back during Sun's analyst conference here.

Not surprisingly, Sun executives were much more enthusiastic in talking 
about Bechtolsheim's return than about the 2003 departure of another 
co-founder, Bill Joy. "Andy is going to be a resource for every 
designer at Sun," McNealy said.

Bechtolsheim, 48, left Sun in 1995 to start Granite Systems, which 
built 1-gigabit-per-second networking technology and which Cisco 
acquired in 1996. He'll rejoin Sun through its planned acquisition of 
Kealia, a start-up that builds Opteron servers. Although Bechtolsheim 
co-founded Kealia in 2001, he didn't formally join it until December, 
when he left Cisco Systems.

"It's pretty cool to see two pioneers reunite," said Robert Frances 
Group analyst Ed Broderick, referring to the two executives. McNealy, 
he said, is buying not just Kealia's intellectual property but also "a 

Although executives remained mum about Kealia's products and how 
they'll fit in at Sun, Bechtolsheim shared his thoughts about his 
sudden homecoming with CNET News.com.

Q: Why did you leave Sun?
A: Back then, I saw an opportunity in gigabit Ethernet. I founded a 
company Cisco ended up buying. Now, I see an opportunity in servers, of 
all things. I think that what has been missing to ignite the market is 
the next level of cost performance. As these things come to market, 
(customers) will upgrade.

What's different about Sun that you would rejoin the company?
Everybody has a little more gray hair, including myself. But we got 
more efficient with age. The new era here is nonreligious. There are 
incredible opportunities with Sparc-Solaris and with Linux-Opteron. 
It's not exclusionary. That's what made it attractive to me. In the 
past, Sun just sold UltraSparc systems, but customers, in the end, want 
other solutions.

What will your role be at Sun, and what will you do?
I'll be chief architect of the Volume Systems Products group. I like 
efficiency. I think that I can help by making things faster with a 
larger group. Neil Knox's Volume Systems Products group is one of the 
smallest at Sun. This is all about execution. There's going to be one 
chip coming after the next.

At Cisco, you were a networking technology executive, and now, Sun is 
bringing more networking into its gear, with its blade servers and with 
its planned acquisition of Nauticus. Will you continue that network 
work at Sun?
No. That was my previous job.

Will you be picking up the screwdrivers and soldering irons and 
building new servers?
I like to work with the engineers and will do so at Sun. Part of 
efficiency is that you don't have to reinvent the wheel. Besides 
continuing with Opteron work, I'll also closely work with other parts 
of Neil's organization. There's a great opportunity to accelerate 

You said today that Kealia's systems will be certified to run Windows 
as well as Linux and Solaris. Sun won't touch Windows servers with a 
10-foot pole. What do you think of selling Windows servers?
It's really hard to add value to Windows. Whatever you add, Microsoft 
is going to take away from you.

Linux has opportunities. There are many ways to add value. There are 
lots of things Sun customers expect that are missing from Linux.

What is Opteron's performance? Is it easier to design servers with 
Opteron than other chips?
Opteron has the industry-leading benchmarks, except for floating-point 
mathematical calculations, for which Itanium is faster. If you look at 
SPECweb99 or CINT2000, Opteron is the fastest CPU. Advanced Micro 
Devices did really well.

What about Opteron system design?
It's fairly straightforward. But you still have to make the right 
choices, whether it's two-way (a two-processor server), four-way or 

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