Sun Microsystems is to offer utility computing services priced at less than a dollar per node, per hour.

The company said it would aim the services at applications tolerant of high latency between processors, such as simulations, modelling and rendering, all easily optimised for grid computing. It will make thousands of processors in Sun Fire servers available for the services.

One service, called [email protected], will cost US$0.79 per processor per hour in the US, while the other, Sun Utility Computing for Grid, will cost $0.99 per hour for a dual processor node. Sun did not say when the services would be available.

In the future, Sun expects businesses to buy computing capacity in much the same way they buy mobile phone services today, paying for a service plan allowing a number of hours of calls - or calculations - per month. It will push the analogy further, selling compute-minutes wholesale to service provider partners, who will then resell the processor time to their customers. The partners include Atos Origin, EDS, and CGI Group.

The company also announced a utility pricing model for midrange storage services based on its StorEdge 6920 system. The price, $0.80 per Sun Power Unit, takes into account a range of features and functionality, and will vary depending on the hardware, software and services used.

Sun is following in the path of several other vendors, such as EMC, who have announced utility pricing recently.