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SPARC History - 2002, July week 3

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Interphase Announces New Network Processor Card Purpose-Built for 3G Wireless

Verification Program Helps Keep Java Plain Vanilla

PDSi Reports Financial Results

Sun Acquisition May Help Put the Sparkle Back into Sun's SPARC Processors

Sun's New Graphics Accelerator Delivers 80 Million Fully Lit, Textured, Anti-Aliased Triangles Per Second

Princeton Softech Expands Active Archiving to Sun Microsystems Solaris Platform

Two Heads Are Better Than One - Tech Source, Inc Shows New Graphics Accelerator for Sun Workstations at SIGGRAPH

I-Bus/Phoenix Launches IBC 2400 PICMG 2.16 Compliant Ultra SPARC(tm) IIe Single Board Computer

the Top #10 Most Important SPARC Systems Companies

Sun Red Dwarfs

Coming Soon - the Top #10 SPARC Companies

Dataram Lowers Memory Costs for Sun Fire V120 and Netra 120 Servers

Sun Microsystems and AT&T Partner in the Web Hosting Business

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These studs were supposed to be a push fit. But Megabyte knew just the right tool for getting these little suckers in nice and tight.

Nibble Re: Sun's Annus Horribilis

T
his last year has not been a happy one for the "dot in dot-com" company.

Partly it's suffered from problems affecting the whole computer industry, but maybe it's time for the company to confess up to shareholders, users and other partners, that some of its biggest problems have been self inflicted. Hubris had become as much a core part of the company as Solaris.

As the strength of Sun has dimmed during the last year, the glare of looking directly at it has become less painful. I don't realistically expect any press releases coming out from Sun Microsystems admitting they have done things wrong in their business strategy (that may have to wait for Scott McNealy's memoirs) but we have already started to see a trickle of news to suggest that they are going back to do some things differently. In the absence of any "mea culpas" coming out from Mountain View here's my own suggested shortlist of sins of omission and sins of commisssion by the SUNW company.

Sins of Omission

  • Sun forgot that its customers are rational human beings, who seek out the best value solutions for their organizations. When Sun produces the best solutions, they buy Sun. But that shouldn't be taken for granted when Sun's products are no longer best of breed.
  • In the mid 1990's Sun's SPARC Technology Business promised OEMs looking at SPARC technology, that Sun's SPARC processors would maintain a consistent performance advantage over Intel architecture by a margin of about two to one. You'd have to pay more for the SPARC technology, but you'd get higher performance computing typically a year to eighteen months sooner by switching to SPARC. However in 2001 and upto the 2nd quarter of 2002, Sun forgot to deliver on this pledge. First Sun's competitors caught up, and now the performance ratio is heading towards two to one the wrong way round. But Sun still expects users to pay a higher price for lower performance. There's something wrong with that thinking.

Sins of Commisssion

  • Sun had many "adventures" into other market segments where the Sun magic had not been worked before. Sun's biggest and most expensive misadventure was in the fast growing storage market. Industry commentators said at the time that Sun was a most unlikely candidate to succeed in this commodity priced market. Storage doesn't just connect to Sun servers, it connects to PC's and Wintel servers, and a lot more besides. My guess is that Sun squandered billions of dollars in this experiment. It failed because users don't want over priced second rate storage at a higher price than best of breed alternatives. However Sun is already going back to its earlier successful strategy of badge engineering good solutions made by other companies.
  • Sun had developed a latent market of pro Sun wannabe customers in the Intel architecture market with its Solaris X86 operating system. At some future time this had the potential to be leveraged with Intel badged servers from Sun. However, when Sun unilaterally and without discussion pulled the plug on these users, it sowed the seeds for future distrust. Any future Intel architecture products from Sun, be they Solaris or Linux will be viewed with deep suspicion. Sun's business development in this market has been set back many years

I said this would be a short list. That's why I haven't mentioned that Sun lost trust in its VAR channel by competing with its own customers when times got tough. And that Sun thought that most of its other partnerships with IHVs and ISVs were one way streets designed solely to benefit Sun. But that's no different to what other computer companies have always done. Sun was unusual in ever behaving differently. Sun was unlucky with its cache reliability problem, and was even more unlucky that its fastest growing customer base got whacked by the pricking of the dot-com bubble. Nothing they could really about that.

Looking ahead...

the need for high performance reliable servers hasn't gone away. Sun just isn't meetimg that need as well as it used to. Many of the hurdles which Sun faces are internally created problems. Admitting that's the case, and doing something about it could result in a new dawning for the twenty year old company.

I-Bus/Phoenix
Harnessing the power of Sun Microsystems' technology, I-Bus/Phoenix provides fully integrated High Availability server platforms, including CompactPCI technology, for a range of mission-critical applications.

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Tech-Source Two Heads Are Better Than One! Tech Source, Inc Shows New Graphics Accelerator for Sun Workstations at SIGGRAPH

Altamonte Springs, Florida - July 21, 2002. Tech Source, Inc. announce the Raptor GFX-750 graphics accelerator which has been specifically designed to address the growing need to support high resolution digital flat panels. This single slot (short) PCI card supports the latest "wide screen" format LCD monitors with resolutions up to 1920 x 1200 @ 60 Hz, this includes SUN's 24.1" and WIDE's 24" TFT products.

The Raptor GFX-750 provides dual head support via one DVI and one analogue output and offers outstanding 2D performance on most Sun desktop and server class machines running either Solaris 7, 8 or 9. This product is a truly professional graphics solution targeted towards applications such as financial trading, desktop publishing, digital content creation, video editing and medical imaging, where high resolution and excellent video quality are crucial.

See the Raptor GFX-750 at SIGGRAPH 2002 San Antonio TX July 21-26 Booth # 3054 ...Tech-Source profile
I-Bus/Phoenix I-Bus/Phoenix Launches IBC 2400 PICMG 2.16 Compliant Ultra SPARC IIe Single Board Computer

July 19, 2002 - I-Bus/Phoenix announces the launch of the IBC 2400 CompactPCI 6U form factor Single Board Computer (SBC) for high performance and high availability embedded applications in the network core, telecommunications, and industrial sectors.

Boasting the latest generation Sun Ultra SPARC IIe-based 500 MHz 64-bit processor, this PICMG 2.16 compliant SBC extends the company's leading edge line of Packet Switched Backplane products that utilise both Intel and Sun SPARC architectures for OEMs. The IBC 2400 supports up to 2 Gbytes of main memory and 14MB of user Flash memory. It can occupy either a single master or peripheral I/O slot in a standard CompactPCI chassis and supports full I/O hot swap for maximum application availability and system serviceability. It also auto-senses and operates as a cPCI system slot or non-system slot SBC.

Combined with the IBP C08xx family of NEBS enclosures, the IBC 2400 forms the high performance SPARC core in the most demanding real-time communications, networking and broadcast applications.

The IBC 2400 is backed by global sales, support, manufacturing and agency approvals, in addition to OEM revision control. General availability, with full options will be from August 2002. Pricing for a typical configuration in OEM quantities will be $2695. ...I-Bus/Phoenix profile
the Top #10
Most Important
SPARC Systems Companies
the Top #10 Most Important SPARC Systems Companies

Editor - July 19, 2002 - Don't let Sun's results for 2001 depress you. There are highs as well as lows in the SPARC systems market.

Take a look at the list published today of the Top #10 Most Important SPARC Companies. The companies are ranked according to pagviews from over 125,000 SPARC Product Directory readers in Q2 2002. That's a bigger real-time sample than you'll get from any other market research company. This feature also includes an editor's commentary on each company.
Sun Microsystems
. Sun's revenues in the 4th financial year quarter (ending June 30) have been shrinking from a historic high in 2000

Q400 - $5.02 billion

Q401 - $4.00 billion

Q402 - $3.4 billion

How the revenue numbers compared to last year.

2001 - $18.25 billion

2002 - $12.5 billion

Sun's annual revenue is in line with the predictions which we reported on July 9.

Sun's year on year decline in this quarter is almost identical to EMC (which was down 31%). I've commented before on how closely the fortunes of these two companies are aligned. In comparison, IBM reported a 7% decline for this quarter year on year.
Sun Red Dwarfs

"to red dwarf" (verb) to collapse from a large bright star down to a smaller duller one

SANTA CLARA, CA - July 18, 2002 - Sun Microsystems, Inc. (NASDAQ: SUNW) reported results today for its fiscal fourth quarter which ended June 30, 2002. Revenues for the fourth quarter were $3.4 billion, up 10 percent, as compared with $3.1 billion in revenues reported for the third quarter of fiscal year 2002. Net income for the fourth quarter was $28 million and the net income per common share was $.01 (excluding an $18 million loss on equity investments, a $4 million credit for adjustments to restructuring charges, and a $6 million benefit for the related tax effects). Including these amounts, GAAP net income was $20 million and GAAP earnings per share was $.01.

For the full 2002 fiscal year, Sun reported revenues of $12.5 billion, down 32 percent from record high revenues of the prior year. Net loss for the 2002 fiscal year was $255 million and the net loss per common share was $.08 (excluding a $517 million restructuring charge, a $99 million loss on equity investments, a $3 million charge for in-process research and development, and a $246 million benefit for the related tax effects). Including these amounts, GAAP net loss was $628 million and GAAP loss per share was $.19.

Sun's Chairman, CEO, and President Scott McNealy said, "We stated a goal of reporting a profit this quarter and we achieved that goal. I'm immensely proud of my team. They have integrity. They have talent. They have tenacity. And, they achieved this goal while protecting investments in research and development, aggressively managing cash balances, and gaining market share from competitors." McNealy continued, "We achieved gains in low-end server sales through the continued success of our UltraSPARC® III processor-based products such as the Sun Fire V880 2-way, 4-way, and 8-way servers and the Sun Fire 280R, rack-mountable 2-way server. We also increased sales of our high-end UltraSPARC III processor-based products such as the Sun Fire 6800 and Sun Fire 15K mainframe replacement servers. These gains were augmented by strong market acceptance of our newest products such as the Sun Fire V480 4-way server in the low-end space and the Sun Fire 12K server in the high-end space. The Sun Fire 12K server has been particularly well received as it is taking sales from the competition while strengthening and enhancing sales of other Sun high-end products."

Steve McGowan, Executive Vice President of Corporate Resources and Chief Financial Officer said, "We were particularly pleased with our strong performance in the U.S. geography which reported 20% revenue growth over the prior quarter." ...Sun Microsystems profile

Editor's comments:- Sun's announcement was timed after market close. The stock dropped 16% in after hours trading.
SPARC Product Directory Coming Soon - the Top #10 SPARC Companies

Editor - July 18, 2002 - who are the most important companies in the SPARC systems market? With over 700 hardware companies linked from this publication, and another 3,000 external links to other other types of SPARC related companies it would be difficult to hazard a guess at more than one...

On Friday afternoon we're going to list and rank them.

Our ranking isn't based on personal views or financial data or conjecture. It's based on hard fact. We analyzed our web logfiles in the last part of Sun's 4th quarter which ended June 30, which included a sample size of more than 125,000 human readers of the SPARC Product Directory (excluding robots etc.)

As you might expect, Sun makes the top 10. But for the first time since we started tracking these web statistics in 1996 Sun is no longer #1. To find out who is, come back to this page.
Dataram
. "One of the most important features of Dataram memory is that we test and qualify our memory in the targeted high-end systems." stated Jeff Goldenbaum, Dataram's Product Manager. "The only difference between Dataram memory and the original system vendor's memory is the price."
Dataram Lowers Memory Costs for Sun Fire V120 and Netra 120 Servers

Princeton, NJ - July 16, 2002 - Dataram Corporation today announced the immediate availability of memory upgrades for Sun Microsystems' Sun Fire V120 and Netra 120 servers. Dataram's DRS200 memory is available in capacities of 256MB, 512MB, and 1GB. Each memory upgrade consists of a single high-quality 133MHz ECC-protected SDRAM DIMM. The Sun Fire V120 and Netra 120 servers contain four slots for memory, supporting up to 4GB of Dataram memory. Dataram's memory is guaranteed to be 100% compatible with Sun's hardware and software, having been fully tested and qualified in actual Sun servers.

Dataram's focus on memory provides its customers with substantial savings of up to 60% or more when compared to Sun's memory. ...Dataram profile

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