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SPARC News - 2002, October week 3

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Tech-Source GFX 200 Quad Graphics Accelerator
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Dy 4 Systems

Force Computers
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. "As the latest addition to the CompactCore family, the Little Buddy carrier card offers full integration with its host, the PowerPC 750 processor-based SCP/DCP-119 board," said Henry Kwok, Dy 4 Systems product marketing manager for the CompactCore line. "By further enhancing the SBC's already extensive onboard capabilities, Little Buddy provides unprecedented flexibility and complementary functionality for the CompactPCI environment. Plus, it will be integrated with all future CompactCore base boards."
Dy 4 Systems Expands CompactCore Line of CompactPCI Products With Conduction-Cooled, Fully Ruggedized PMC Carrier Card

Kanata, Ontario, Canada - October 21, 2002 - Dy 4 Systems, a division of Force Computers has announced the addition of the SCP/DCP-201 conduction-cooled carrier card to its CompactCore line of ruggedized CPCI products. Designed to integrate Dy 4 PCI mezzanine cards (PMCs), the fully ruggedized carrier card, dubbed "Little Buddy," expands functionality on its host SBC, the SCP/DCP-119.

Easing expansion on the SCP/DCP-119, Little Buddy enables integration of ruggedized PMCs like Dy 4's MIL-STD 1553-capable PMC-601 I/O module or Trinity 1 (PMC-700) or Trinity 2 (PMC-702) graphics controller modules. Overall, a fully integrated CompactCore SBC with a carrier card, PMC system is a "total solution" for high-performance, space/weight-constrained defense and aerospace applications.

Fitted with Dy 4's exclusive thermal frame design for enhanced heat dissipation and ruggedization, Little Buddy enables PMCs to operate in environmental extremes of temperature, humidity, shock and vibration typical of combat aircraft or space vehicles. Providing optimal thermal management for onboard PMCs, the carrier card's enhanced thermal frame efficiently regulates temperature by conducting heat away from hot spots, allowing PMCs to function at their peak effectiveness. Also, Little Buddy has no active components, which could potentially affect an onboard PMC's thermal profile.

Offering conduction cooling unavailable on any other carrier card, the Little Buddy's enhanced thermal frame lets even hot-running PMCs operate at their full potential with no concerns about cooling. In addition, a specially designed conformal coat protects Little Buddy and onboard PMCs from high-humidity or highly corrosive conditions such as fog or salt spray.

Little Buddy is now available. Pricing starts at $855. ...Dy 4 Systems profile
Dy 4 Systems Expands CompactCore Line of CompactPCI Products With Conduction-Cooled, Fully Ruggedized PMC Carrier Card

One Third of US Sun Resellers May Disappear

Sun Announces Quarterly Results, and Another Decimation of its Workforce

Sun Microsystems and JNI Enter OEM Agreement for Fibre Channel Host Bus Adapters

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iSCSI
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Terrorbyte liked to test out hot new backup technologies.
Nibble:- The New Goldrush? - Network Accelerators

S
ince the summer dozens of companies have announced a wide range of network accelerators. These are particulary important to Sun users because Sun Microsystems has been parsimonious with its SPARC CPU clock speeds in the past few years, offering speedups of x 1.2, when really users would rather like x 2.0. So if you want things to go any faster, you'll have to look at accelerator coprocessors instead of accelerated native SPARC processors.

In the security part of the market, joining the long established PCI crypto accelerator card first announced two years ago by Compaq, then badged by Sun, then dropped by Sun and now supported by SUFFIX Informatik, we now have some network security boxes which protect storage networks at wireline speeds. New vendors in this market include Cylink and Decru.

NAS is now a $3 Billion market, and will double in size in the next 2 years according to the 2002 SAN and NAS Report by Peripheral Concepts, Inc. So dozens of companies have announced TCP/IP Offload accelerator products to things move along a little faster.

In addition to the pioneer company in this market, Alacritech, and chip companies Intel and LSI Logic, two long established SPARC OEMs Antares Microsystems and Tadpole have publicly announced they are working on products for the Sun market. And Aristos Logic was the first company to reveal details of its storage processor in October 2002. So it won't be long before its competitors, still in stealth mode will have to put up, or shut up.

A full list of iSCSI and FCIP companies and Storage interface ICs, processors & accelerator chips can be seen on the mouse site, STORAGEsearch.com. So, despite the recession, Sun users are going to see some innovative new 3rd party products soon which will help them speed up their servers without breaking the bank.

Why do you need all these accelerator products? Won't software do the job?

The killer application for network accelerators is the real-time response for data replication and onsite and offsite backup windows. Without hardware accelerators your internal networks are more vulnerable to data loss and longer restore cycles. Meanwhile your ISPs are looking for any reason to charge more money, and if you need to buy extra bandwidth for your VPNs then the hardware accelerators could end up being much cheaper.

And I haven't even mentioned Solid State Disks because I thought that everyone already knows that they can make your Sun server run 20 to 30 percent faster. There are lots of application notes about that with a complete list of vendors also at the click of mouse.
Tech-Source
Privately owned,Tech Source, Inc. is a leading manufacturer of high-resolution graphics accelerators for OEMs of PCI and SBus computer systems.

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Sun SPARC VARs - USA One Third of US Sun Resellers May Disappear

Editor:- October 21, 2002 - the 4th quarter of 2002 marks the first time in Sun's history that the total number of US resellers selling Sun based solutions has markedly declined. Problems for Sun VARs have been emerging for the past two years, mainly fuelled by own Sun's 65% revenue decline from its peak at the height of the dotcom boom. That problem has been exacerbated by problems in the IT market as a whole. Sun's announcement in October that it will lay off another 11% of its workforce confirms that the outlook for the market does not contain any quick fixes which might lead to a change in fortunes for Sun's VARs.

ACSL, publisher of the SPARC Product Directory has been tracking the active number of Sun resellers for over ten years. In October the number of Sun VAR web sites removed, because the web site was no longer functioning, significantly exceeded the number of new VAR sites added.

Economic analysis would suggest that the Sun market could be profitably served by as little as half the current number of VARs. Many resellers have been hanging on, hoping that things would get better after Sun's announcements at the SunNetwork Conference in September. However the signals coming out from Sun seem to be - too little change, too late - for many of its long term partners. Although many Sun VARs have already diversified into other areas such as storage and Linux, we predict that upto one third of all Sun VARs in the US may exit the Sun market or cease operating as companies altogether during the next 6 months.

Sun has hastened this process by competing directly with its VARs and by delisting companies whose sales have fallen below their agreed levels. However, those VARs which continue to service their customers as "gray Sun resellers" retain their listings in the SPARC Product Directory, and are not numbered among the missing.

I would love to be proved wrong about this prediction, and if there are active Sun VARs out there who aren't currently listed in our US directory, they can send me their profiles to even up the score.
Sun Microsystems
. Steve McGowan, Sun's Chief Financial Officer and Executive Vice President of Corporate Resources said, "Sun has done an outstanding job in maintaining fiscal discipline but it hasn't been enough to counterbalance revenue shortfalls caused by the protracted economic downturn. We believe the actions announced today are necessary to return Sun to profitability and are in the best interest of our long-term shareholders."

McGowan added, "Sun continued to remain cash flow positive from operations this quarter. We paid off $200 million of debt and, as a demonstration of faith in our company, we repurchased nearly $500 million dollars of stock. We ended the quarter with a cash and marketable securities position of over $5.2 billion and total debt of $1.5 billion."

Sun's Chairman, President, and CEO Scott McNealy stated, "Despite the challenging economic environment, we continue to broaden our industry footprint and win customers in new markets such as life sciences, healthcare and retail. At the same time, we are protecting our investments in research and development, aggressively managing cash balances, and gaining market share from competitors... We are doing our best to manage the company responsibly for our long-term shareholders. Tough times require tough decisions and everyone at Sun is dedicated to returning the company to profitability as soon as possible."
Sun Announces Quarterly Results, and Another Decimation of its Workforce

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - October 17, 2002 - Sun Microsystems, Inc. (NASDAQ: SUNW) reported results today for its fiscal first quarter which ended September 29, 2002. Revenues for the first quarter of fiscal year 2003 were $2.7 billion, down 4 percent as compared with $2.9 billion for the first quarter of fiscal year 2002. GAAP net loss for the first quarter of fiscal year 2003 was $111 million and net loss per share was $.04 as compared with a net loss of $180 million and net loss per share of $.06 for the first quarter of fiscal year 2002. For the first quarter of fiscal year 2003, excluding a $31 million loss on equity investments, a $24 million charge in connection with previous restructuring charges, and a $22 million benefit for related tax effects, net loss was $78 million and net loss per share was $.02.

Sun plans to reduce its workforce by approximately 11% from its Q1 fiscal year 2003 beginning headcount level and consolidate and eliminate excess space. As a result of these reductions, Sun expects to record a charge of approximately $300 million in the second quarter of fiscal year 2003. ...Sun Microsystems profile

Editor's comments:- reporting a revenue lower than the same quarter last year, which included the terrorist attacks of 9/11, confirms that Sun has structural problems.
  • Goodbye Sun! Hello New Employer! - in October 2001 I prepared this article to help Sun employees look for alternative brighter employment spots. If you're in that situation, I hope you still find it helpful in getting started.
  • Sun's processor speed problems. I've been commenting for the past two years that Sun has been lagging behind Intel and other competitors in its chip performance. This summer Sun was trounced in all major system benchmarks. That hasn't made it any easier for users to justify buying Sun, because better security and lower administration costs don't justify a box which runs at half the speed of similarly priced alternatives. There's no quick fix for this, because with today's semiconductor technology a 64 bit processor like SPARC will always run about half as fast as 32 bit processor due to the problem of aligning the data bits across a wider path where they interface to the printed circuit board.

    One solution might be for Sun to bring out a 3GHz SPARC processor which has a 32 bit external data bus (similar concept to the 8088 in the original IBM PC - which had an 8 bit external bus which saved cost compared to the earlier 8086). For some applications that will give a 50% performance speedup compared to the 1.3GHz promised chips from Sun, while using the same technology. The bus width will be transparent to application software. The 32 bit SPARC appliances would outperform the Intel competition and the application niche might be big enough for Sun to increase server sales by another 20% or so. Just a suggestion...
JNI
. "This agreement between JNI and Sun begins a new phase in our company's history, one that clearly benefits Sun StorEdge storage systems customers," said Russell Stern, president and CEO of JNI Corporation. "Our Fibre Channel HBAs and Sun's server and storage products and global footprint are a powerful combination in expanding the enterprise network storage environment."
Sun Microsystems and JNI Enter OEM Agreement for Fibre Channel Host Bus Adapters

SAN DIEGO - October16, 2002 - JNI Corporation today announced they have signed an OEM agreement with Sun Microsystems to supply Fibre Channel host bus adapters (HBAs). The OEM agreement spans the entire family of JNI FibreStar™ products, including single- and dual-port Fibre Channel HBAs with PCI bus, SBus and CompactPCI bus connections, operating at both 1 Gb and 2 Gb speeds. ...JNI profile

Editor's comments:- earlier this year JNI had the dubious distinction of recording a quarterly loss figure which could easily be mistaken for its revenue - $8.7 million loss, on a revenue of $10.9 million for Q2. That's the kind of ratio which you usually associate with startups on an upwards hockey stick ramp. However, JNI, which has supplied Fibre Channel HBAs to Sun users since 1995 has recently been on a sharply downwards revenue slope. This new deal with Sun, which I assume involved some very competitive pricing, may put the company back into restartup mode.

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