IBM is reportedly in talks to acquire hardware/software competitor Sun Microsystems for between 6.5 and 7 billion. Both The Wall Street Journal, which broke the news Wednesday, and The New York Times cite sources familiar with the negotiation but neither IBM nor Sun have confirmed the news.

A merger would consolidate the first and fourth-largest server providers in the IT hardware industry based on revenue. While server sales have fallen overall, Gartner Inc.’s Q4 2008 report showed IBM with a 33.4 percent market share and Sun with 9.6 percent. The second and third-largest server shares belong to HP (30 percent) and Dell (10.7 percent).

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