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2001, December weeks 2 - 4

See also:- article:- Looking Back on Sun's Cache Memory Problem
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Sun Microsystems Sun And Ebay Celebrate Another Successful Year with Record Uptime

SANTA CLARA, CA - December 20, 2001 - Sun Microsystems, Inc. and eBay are celebrating the sixth year of their relationship by looking back on a string of successful developments during 2001. Both companies agree that the highlight of the year was eBay's record performance during the third quarter when Sun and eBay delivered a record 99.9% site accessibility to the eBay community.

"The strategic implementation of Sun's technology plays a critical role in the success of the eBay community," said Maynard Webb, president of eBay Technologies. "Sun powers our back-end systems and search infrastructure which has been pivotal in allowing us to deliver a record 99.9% uptime performance."

Webb added that the third quarter performance levels produced by Sun and eBay are even more remarkable considering that the eBay site supported 250 million page views per day and sent out more than 1.2 giga-bits of data per second during peak usage during that period.
Sun And Ebay Celebrate Another Successful Year with Record Uptime

I-Bus/Phoenix and Continuous Computing Enter Product Partnership

Quantum's Network Attached Storage Products Obtain Solaris Ready Certification

HELIOS Create PDF Server on Windows now in beta Provides Acrobat Distiller functionality to UNIX platform

Intel, Sun sketch multiprocessor chip plans

Fujitsu PRIMEPOWER 800 Scores Best in Class Internet Web Server

Tadpole Appoints Anteon Corporation As Its Systems Integrator For Government Markets

Advanced Explosive Detection Systems for Airports get Peritek Graphics Technology

HP No.1 in Worldwide High-end and Mid-range UNIX Server Revenue

earlier news - archive
Fibre channel cable
Fibre channel cables on
Without the right fibre-channel cable to hold things together, Megabyte's system was always falling apart.

View from the Hill:

...and Then There was One. The Rise and Fall of the SPARC Workstation Market

It now seems likely that the year 2000 represented the peak of the desktop SPARC workstation market, which started in 1989 with the launch of the SPARCstation 1. And I predict that, by the end of 2003, there will be only one supplier of desktop SPARC workstations left to service a market that's already declined significantly in revenue as a result of the recession in 2001, and the overlap in capability between Unix workstations and dekstop PCs. And there are no prizes for guessing that will be Sun Microsystems.

The workstation market has outlasted its usefulness, but it's interesting to see where it's been.

In the early 1990's SPARC workstations provided significant time to market benefits for a wide variety of technical developers in markets as far apart as publishing, software development and engineering.

  • SPARC processors were faster than those used in PCs or competing Unix workstations
  • Unix workstations allowed users to work with larger memory models which couldn't be accomodated on PC operating systems or (then) PC hardware busses
  • multiprocessing, appeared in SPARCstations years before PCs, and enabled users to get significant computing speedups at economic cost increments

The market was also good for wannabe SPARC workstation oems, because a typical SPARC workstation could be sold at an ASP which was an order of magnitude higher than a PC, with a cost which was only fractionally more. The profit potential in this market attracted dozens of competitors. The peak of the SPARC workstation market (number of competing oems) occurred in 1994, when oems could choose competing 32 bit SPARC chips from Sun, Ross Technology, Fujitsu Microelectronics and Weitek. In fact HAL Computer launched their own 64 bit workstation using their own design of SPARC chips, before Sun's own Ultra 1.

But Sun had several major advantages over its SPARC rivals at that time...

  • Sun controlled the operating system. The FUD factor (Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt) worked as well for Sun as it ever did for IBM in its glory days of the 1970's. (In the PC market, Intel's rival AMD prints an endorsement from Micosoft on its chips, to reassure users that the AMD processor will in fact run Windows.)
  • Sun had a well developed VAR friendly reseller channel.
  • and most important of all... Sun's competitors were good at designing products but mostly useless at marketing.

There isn't the same range of competing systems makers, or chip suppliers today when at the and of 2001, the competitive market for RISC workstations is vastly different.

  • PC's no longer have the same memory restrictions as in earlier generations.
  • PC's overlap SPARC workstations in performance.
  • Users have grown more sophisticated, and after 20 years of living with a PC market, user companies are no longer willing to pay much of a premium price for a RISC workstation, so the workstation "goldrush" is over.

If we take a dispassionate look at the SPARC workstation market of today, then it is no longer a driving force for technology in the computer market. That role has been taken up by the fast growing high availability rackmount server segment, which we'll return to in a future article.

In fact, if Sun were a PC company, its total annual output of desktop units, which is about the same as one day's production at Dell Computer, means that Sun wouldn't even appear as a named company in most market research reports. It would just appear in the anonymous pie chart labelled "others". This may come as a surprise to some readers who mainly rely on Sun's own web site for their news, because for most of this year we've seen a succession of announcements from Sun claiming that it's been increasing its market share in the Unix workstation market. If instead, readers had been seeing their news in the SPARC Product Directory, they would have seen through this Sun doublespeak. The "Unix" workstation market is mostly "Sun" anyway, since other Unix workstation makers have long switched switched to making Windows workstations. So when Sun has been claiming year on year market share increases, it's often in quarters when Sun's own year on year volume shipments have actually declined.

If you look at the ads in Sun focused publications, you'll probably reach the conclusion that Sun's desktop SPARC competitors have already given up the battle of promoting themselves against Sun. Most of these companies now sell systems which use Sun motherboards, and as the market share of SPARC workstations continues to decline, we're going to see just one company left standing, the company which started the whole thing back in the 1980's - Sun Microsystems as the only company left actively marketing commercial desktop SPARC workstations. There'll also be a handful of companies making workstations for specialised markets such as the military... and SPARC portables are a different market again, which haven't yet peaked, and like of the PC portable segment, are doing a lot better than their desktop cousins.

Will there still be a need for SPARC workstations in the future?

Surprisingly, I think Yes. Although most applications will surrender to the Intel architecture PC, there are two types of application for which SPARC workstations will continue to be needed for many years.

  • semiconductor design - which used to be the prerogative of a handful of major oems in the 1970s, is now used as a tool by thousands of companies and is accessible even to the smallest startup company. SPARC workstations still provide the raw horsepower for much of the Electronic Design Automation market, and there seems no compelling reason for current models written around the SPARC/Solaris platform to be rewritten for other targets. In the early days of the SPARCstation market, Sun's workstations could even be seen in the chip design cubicles at Intel Corp. (Do they still use Sun now? Well I don't get out so much nowadays, so maybe a kind reader could fill me in here and let everyone know...)
  • software design - as long as the SPARC server market continues to be a major segment in the server market. there will be productivity advantages for some software developers to use a compatible development platform. Also from the personnel point of view, it's easier for companies to train new software people to become conversant with one target platform and use the same platform for development, especially when there's an ever present shortage of skilled software developers.

Conclusion... As far back as the mid 1990's I was telling many of Sun's new partners that the workstation was no longer a critical factor in the SPARC market. It had long been overtaken in strategic significance by Sun's server business. I believe we've now seen the peak of the desktop SPARC workstation market, and that while volume shipments may rise in the next few years, they will recover at a slower rate than the PC market as a whole. We can look across to the Apple Mac market to see that some users still prefer alternatives to the Wintel PC in specialised vertical markets. That's even more true in SPARC, which is based around synergy with a strong server business. So as long as Sun keeps bringing out new workstation models, there will be users who want to buy them, but it's likely that most of Sun's desktop SPARC competitors today will either withdraw from that market, or just become Sun resellers. Rackmount SPARC servers overtook desktop workstations as the #1 subject viewed by most readers of this publication a long, long time ago... and that's got a completely different outlook, as I'll be revealing in a future View from the Hill article.

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Continuous Computing

I-Bus/Phoenix and Continuous Computing Enter Product Partnership

San Diego, December 18th, 2001 - Continuous Computing Corporation (CCPU) announced today that I-Bus/Phoenix (IBP) will begin integrating CCPU's software and hardware products into its telecommunications, networks, and broadcast market solutions as part of its new role as a Value-Added Reseller and Technology Partner. CCPU will also integrate IBP CompactPCI Intel solutions and chassis products into its platform offerings to CCPU customers.

The first CCPU product that I-Bus/Phoenix will offer is upSuite HA™, CCPU's award-winning high-availability middleware package. UpSuite HA provides the highest level of availability for any telco or enterprise application, detecting and managing any software, hardware, or network failure. The creation of a hot standby through both disk data replication and in-memory data replication enables upSuite HA to provide sub-second IP failover of the service to a standby server.

Designed for Solaris 2.6, 7, and 8, upSuite HA installs in minutes and requires no application recompiles to take advantage of its IP failover and data replication features. It is completely transparent to both the application and the storage media, thus protecting the customer's existing hardware investment.

IBP has plans to integrate additional board products such as CCPU's switchUp™ line of gigabit Ethernet switches for CompactPCI and the IIe-500™, CCPU's own SPARC-based CompactPCI processor board into future computing platforms.

"The integration of Continuous Computing's industry leading upSuite HA software into I-Bus/Phoenix's hardware platforms results in a further enhancement of our market-ready high availability product offering," said Johni Chan, IBP's VP of Engineering. "The partnership enables us to provide a complete application-ready solution to our Solaris customers, allowing them to focus on their core competencies, rather than on managing a diverse set of independent vendors."

"I-Bus/Phoenix's world-class experience and knowledge make them an ideal technology partner for Continuous Computing," Continuous Computing CEO Ken Kalb said, "Our customers in the telecom, broadcast, and network infrastructure spaces can expect an even greater level of convenience and technology excellence from us, and to dominate in their markets as a result of that excellence and the rapid time-to-market we can offer." ...Continuous Computing profile, ...I-Bus/Phoenix profile
Quantum Quantum's NAS Products Obtain Solaris Ready Certification

MILPITAS, Calif., Dec. 17, 2001 - Quantum Corp. today announced its Snap Server® products, including the Snap Server 4100, Snap Server 2200 and Snap Server 1000, have achieved Solaris® Ready Certification from Sun Microsystems, Inc.

To receive the Solaris Ready designation, products must complete a rigorous testing process conducted by KeyLabs, an independent computer products testing laboratory. KeyLabs evaluates products for interoperability, platform support, Solaris compliance, ease-of-installation, driver compatibility, and product documentation.

The Snap Server product family includes desktop and rack-mountable NAS servers with storage capacities ranging from 40 gigabytes to nearly a terabyte. Snap Server products typically install in five minutes or less without any disruptions to the network and deliver automatic, simultaneous multi-platform file-sharing support for Windows, Novell, Macintosh and UNIX/Linux users on the same network. ...Quantum profile
HELIOS Software HELIOS Create PDF Server on Windows now in beta Provides Acrobat Distiller functionality to UNIX platform

Garbsen, Germany - December 17, 2001 - HELIOS Software GmbH, a leading provider of network and prepress software, announced the beta availability of its Create PDF Server solution using a Windows NT/2000/XP based workstation or server. HELIOS PDF Handshake 2, Create PDF Server enables every major UNIX-based server platform to create PDF documents from any UNIX, Macintosh, or Windows client with the simple click of the "print" button.

Using a "Create PDF" printer queue - published for Macintosh, Windows and UNIX clients, and which include custom Distiller and security settings for each queue on the HELIOS server - provides the most automated server-based PDF generation solution available today. Especially well suited for large print and production facilities and education sites, the "Create PDF Server" functionality of HELIOS PDF Handshake is fully scalable from just a few users on a single server to an entire enterprise with dozens of servers. ...HELIOS Software profile

Intel, Sun sketch multiprocessor chip plans

December 13, 2001 - a recent article on EBN discusses future directions for SPARC and Pentium chips. The article says that Sun and Intel are both working on multiprocessor chips, that is implementing two or more processors on the same silicon.

The reason that gives a speedup is because there's a huge time delay penalty when signals come off the chip. Techniques like register scoreboarding, in which the next program instruction is executed by a second processor, if the results of the current instruction don't affect the same registers, first implemented commercially in Motorola's RISC processor the 88000 in the 1980's, can give a peak speedup of x2, x3 or x4. That's used in current SPARC systems, and Sun calls it multi-threading. But it would work a helluvalot faster if all the processors were on the same chip.

BTW - The 88K was a skunkworks design which was way ahead of SPARC and everything else at the time. But the top management at Motorola wasn't interested in processors which competed with its 68K. So the design group packed up and went to Cypress Semiconductor, which spun off Ross Technology and made competing 32 bit SPARC chips in the early 1990's under the hyperSPARC brand. Motorola later regretted its lost opportunity, and became a partner with Apple in IBM's PowerPC chip. But as Andy Grove of Intel remarked, there are two types of company:- the quick and the dead.

...Anyway, back to the multiprocesser core story. The bottom line, is that because of architectural bottlenecks in current SPARC systems, the technique should provide faster system execution even if the on chip clock speed remains the same. How much? At a wild guess, I'd say 30 to 50%. That'll be good news for all users.
. "Our customers choose PRIMEPOWER as their Web server because it's key to their business," said Richard McCormack, vice president of Marketing at Fujitsu Technology Solutions. "With PRIMEPOWER availability, our customers can be open for business 24 hours a day. Because of PRIMEPOWER scalability, they can count on being able to handle the most expansive growth with no surprises."
Fujitsu PRIMEPOWER 800 Scores Best in Class Internet Web Server

Sunnyvale, Calif., December 12, 2001 – Fujitsu Technology Solutions today announced that the SPARC compliant, Solaris compatible PRIMEPOWER 800 server achieved top position for 12-processor servers in the SPECweb99 benchmark. This benchmark is the industry-standard measuring performance for high-end Internet business computing.

The PRIMEPOWER 800 recorded 11,223 Simultaneous Connections (SPECweb99 metric)—23-28 percent higher than its closest competitors—demonstrating that PRIMEPOWER servers are the ideal servers for an e-business environment supporting fast and efficient Internet response for customers and partners. This is the first time that a 12-processor server succeeded in breaking the barrier of 10,000 simultaneous connections.

The PRIMEPOWER 800 achieved its record utilizing only three-fourths of the server's total 16-processor capacity, and still allowing significant room for growth. With partitioning, the extra capacity can also be used to run other workloads with the same or different versions of the operating system for unprecedented flexibility.

The PRIMEPOWER family is capable of scaling to 128 processors offering excellent growth potential for business-critical computing requirements. ...Fujitsu Technology Solutions profile
Joseph M. Kampf, president and chief executive officer of Anteon said, "I am very pleased and excited about this working relationship between Anteon and Tadpole. Both companies are solution-oriented and we look forward to maximizing the synergy resulting from this partnership."

"Size matters in this increasingly mobile, space-conscious age and Tadpole is uniquely positioned to challenge the concept that only physical size is synonymous with hardware performance in mission-critical, Solaris applications," adds Barbara Payne, Tadpole's director of government sales. "As a proven leader in developing and deploying complex system applications, Anteon is well positioned to leverage Tadpole's hardware innovations and put powerful small footprint, tactical solutions firmly onto the federal map."
Tadpole Appoints Anteon Corporation As Its Systems Integrator For Government Markets

Carlsbad (CA), Cambridge (UK), and Fairfax (VA) - December 11, 2001 - Tadpole today announced the appointment of Anteon Corporation as its systems integrator for government markets. Under the appointment, Anteon will integrate a number of Department of Defense C4ISR (command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance) systems into the full range of Tadpole's UltraSPARC-based products and market the solutions to its federal customer base. Anteon will offer "cradle to grave" support.

Anteon's customers flagged initially for Tadpole's systems include the US Navy, specifically vessels in the fleet where space is at a premium, such as submarines and small combatant surface ship vessels. Anteon has selected Tadpole's rack mountable 3200 Compute Server as the preferred solution for these vessels.

Anteon is one of the top 25 suppliers of IT products and services to the federal government through GSA schedules. With annual revenue exceeding $700 million, Anteon has 5,400 employees in over 80 offices serving more than 600 customer organizations worldwide. ...Anteon profile, ...Tadpole-Cycle profile
. The Eclipse3 graphics board is designed to meet embedded computing industry standards, and supports VME, CompactPCI and PCI computer platforms. It's currently used in a wide variety of applications including embedded development system graphical interface, OEM machine control, telecommunications, command & control, sonar and radar displays. Eclipse3 is based on Peritek's graphics chip, the Borealis3, to ensure product stability and long-term availability for critical embedded computing applications.
Advanced Explosive Detection Systems for Airports get Peritek Graphics Technology

OAKLAND, Calif. - December 10, 2001 - Peritek Corp. today announced that its new Eclipse3/PMC Graphics Module was successfully integrated into InVision Technologies' line of baggage inspection equipment for civil aviation. Peritek and InVision engineering teams combined efforts to implement the latest embedded display control technology into the CTX 9000 DSi series, CTX 5500 DS series and CTX 2500 series.

InVision's family of checked baggage screening products includes the CTX 5000 SP system, its successor the CTX 5500 DS system, the top-of-the line CTX 9300 DSi system, and the compact and mobile CTX 2500 DS unit. All of these explosive detection systems are FAA-certified.

Peritek's President, Victor Gold, stated "We are proud to partner with InVision Technologies as they use technology to make commercial aviation safer for everyone." ...Peritek profile, ...InVision Technologies
. "These are great results for HP and we believe that we are positioned even better for the next quarter in all categories," said Mark Hudson, worldwide marketing manager, HP Business Systems and Technology Organization. "Unlike competitors, HP has been growing its high-end revenue and market share since the HP Superdome server started shipping in volume at the beginning of this year. In the entry-level server arena, last week HP became the first vendor to announce a blade server product range and our belief is that this will provide a further boost for our presence in this category."
HP No.1 in Worldwide High-end and Mid-range UNIX Server Revenue

PALO ALTO, Calif. - Dec. 10, 2001 - Hewlett-Packard Company announced today that in the third quarter of calendar year 2001 it grew revenue market share in the entry-level, mid-range, high-end and total UNIX® server categories worldwide and is in the lead position in mid-range and high-end server revenue. According to International Data Corporation (IDC), in terms of total UNIX revenue for entry-level, mid-range and high-end servers, HP is in a virtual dead heat with the current leader, Sun, gaining 28.5% of total market share to Sun's 28.8%, with IBM in third place at 21%.

During this quarter, HP was the only vendor to grow total UNIX revenue sequentially (4%), while the top four UNIX vendors dropped revenue by 15% or more. HP grew its share of the total UNIX server market by 6.2% sequentially at the expense of Sun and IBM, whose figures declined by 6.5% and 0.4%, respectively (total UNIX revenue in the third quarter of 2001 versus second quarter of 2001). HP also was the only top four vendor to grow market share sequentially in total UNIX units.

The IDC figures show HP continuing its four years of sustained leadership in the mid-range server market, which is the highest revenue UNIX segment. HP is the clear leader in mid-range UNIX server revenue market share, with 33.7%, while IBM and Sun compete for the number two position with 25.3% and 25.2%, respectively. Again, HP was the only top four vendor to grow market share sequentially, with a 7.3% increase and was the only vendor to grow revenue sequentially, while Sun and IBM lost revenue at 25% or more.

HP took the number one position in high-end UNIX server revenue, surpassing Sun and IBM and demonstrating the strength and success of the HP Superdome server in comparison with Sun's and IBM's high-end server offerings. In a tough economic climate, HP grew its high-end server revenue sequentially by 39.6%, while Sun declined 55.0% and IBM declined 19.8%. HP's market share in the high-end was 27.6% in third quarter of 2001, an increase of 12.6%, while Sun declined by 15.8%.

In the entry-level UNIX server category, HP grew its revenue market share by 2.5%, narrowing the gap with the current leader, Sun, which saw a decline of 6%. In the emerging IA-64 UNIX category, HP leads with 74% of the market in revenue and 71.6% in units. ...HP profile, ...IDC profile

Editor's comment:- if your Sun sales person has been looking a bit depressed lately, now you know the reason. This has not been a good year for Sun, but actually the market share figures could have been a lot worse, and say a lot for the loyalty and patience of Sun users. Sun needs to do 3 simple things in the next year to overtake HP again.

(1) - speed up the introduction of the next generation of faster SPARC chips

(2) - attack its Unix rivals head-on where it hurts most by becoming a reseller of low cost Fujitsu or other Pentium based servers running Solaris. That will take Sun into new customers who will not use SPARC, and provide a fast growing new revenue stream

(3) - repair fences with its VARs and other strategic partners

None of these suggestions are new.

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