Sun might be best known for its high-end boxes, but for the past year or so it has stressed its commitment to the low-end server market. The company used its quarterly product rollout last week to announce that it is filling out its low-cost line.Sun\u00a0might be best known for its high-end boxes, but for the past year or so it has stressed its commitment to the low-end server market. The company used its quarterly product rollout last week to announce that it is filling out its low-cost line.Among the new products is Sun's first x86 blade, the\u00a0Sun Fire B100x. The one-processor blade, powered by Advanced Micro Devices' (AMD) 1.53-GHz Mobile Athlon XP 1800+ chip, comes with 1G or 2G bytes of memory and supports Linux or Solaris. It starts at $1,800.The B100x is designed to coexist with Sun's other compute blade, the UltraSPARC-based B100, as well as the B10n load-balancing blade and the new B10p SSL Proxy blade, which offloads processor-intensive Secure Sockets Layer encryption and decryption. The B10p, announced last week, starts at $13,800.All four blades fit into Sun's 3U-high chassis, which has slots for 16 blades. The idea is to let customers run Linux or Solaris on SPARC or x86.Sun is focusing on the low end as it attempts to offset a drop in spending on its flagship Unix systems. According to IDC, the Unix server market shrunk by 3.8% in the third quarter compared with the same period a year ago, while revenue from x86-based servers - those running on Intel and AMD chips - grew 8.3%.Sun was hardest hit by the drop in Unix spending. It was the only major vendor to lose market share, dropping 9.3% compared with the same quarter a year ago, while the overall server market rose 2%.Analysts say Sun is smart to increase its focus on low-end systems. Sun underscored that commitment at Comdex last month when it announced a far-reaching partnership with AMD to roll out systems based on that company's 32-\/64-bit Opteron chips.Sun says customers can expect the company's first Opteron product, a two-processor box, to be available in the first quarter. A four-processor Opteron server is slated for release in the second quarter.Sun stressed that it is not moving away from its Intel offerings, announcing that it was upgrading the Sun Fire V65x and V60x servers that it introduced earlier this year with new 3.2-GHz Xeon processors."The scope of their announcements and plans are quite broad with respect to x86 and SPARC," says Gordon Haff, an analyst at Illuminata. "Whether it's too late remains to be seen. At the very least it's going to take a clear and unwavering focus that's been missing in the past when it comes to initiatives outside their SPARC\/Solaris comfort zone."Clark Masters, executive vice president for enterprise systems products at Sun, conceded that the company was slow to address the low end of the market. "It's fair to say that we were in denial of the 32-bit computing world and what it can do," he says.