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News about SPARC systems and related companies - 2003, August

See also:- Surviving the Solaris x86 Wars
the Rise and Fall of the SPARC Workstation Market
Looking Back at 3rd Party SPARC Technology Firsts
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Sun Microsystems Sun Launches SunSHINE User Group

Editor:- August 26, 2003 - about 3 months ago I wrote an article suggesting that Sun should get back into the business of launching user groups. Today, for the first time in nearly decade, Sun announced a special Sun user group - SunSHINE - aimed at the medical industry.

"Different than the traditional industry user group, SunSHINE plans to offer in-depth education for IT professionals in the healthcare community, and it will provide an interactive forum for healthcare executives to share and discuss best practices," said Mike Haymaker, global healthcare industry manager at Sun Microsystems.
Sun Launches SunSHINE User Group

Sun and HDS Extend Marketing Agreements on Storage

Sun will Launch its Linux Desktop Terminal Soon

Tadpole Ranked #1 SPARC oem

Peritek Acquired by Curtiss-Wright

SBE acquires Antares Microsystems

Solid State Disks - a $10 Billion Market in 2007?

General Dynamics SPARC Notebooks for U.S. Army Program

Sun Upgrades Sun Fire V480 Server

M-Systems' SSDs Certified "Solaris Ready"

SunNetwork Conference Registration Opens
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Spellabyte and Terrorbyte loved sitting around the campfire, discussing the good old days of SPARC computing.
View from the Hill

What's the Trigger Event that will Turn Around Sun's Revenue Decline?

iven the lacklustre content of many Sun Microsystems press releases during the last 18 months, I started speculating idly what sort of announcement the company would have to make, to create the kind of enthusiasm in customers and market analysts that they used to get in their white hot days. Hey, if we're in make believe mode, we might as well go for the gold. It would have to be a product announcement that marked the inflexion point in Sun's revenue slide, and the start of a strong steady rise in revenue, and real server market share (not just Solaris server market share).

How about some good news about its X86 Linux servers?

...No. I dismissed that straight away.

Even if Sun quadrupled its X86 Linux server revenue, it would still be getting only about 2% of the Linux market.

How about some good news about Java?

...No, the Java hype machine has lost its power to buy votes where it counts - in increased server sales.

Let's look at the best case. The best news for Sun's investor would be if Sun were to announce it was spinning off its Java business as an independent separate company. It's a useful language, and a worthy successor to vanilla C. But you don't have to own a cow to drink milk. Sun's ownership of Java hasn't guaranteed strong server sales recently. But getting rid of the expense and distraction of supporting Java won't turn around Sun's fortunes either. In fact, if Sun spun out its Java unit and promised to support all available web software technologies including those from Microsoft, Sun's share price might even go up - for about 15 minutes until everyone realised that they didn't really mean it. No, overall, Java is not the Trigger Event. Not even if Microsoft did a deal with DoJ and was able to acquire the Java business for a generous sum of money. Ownership or otherwise of Java is probably revenue neutral. We have to look elsewhere.

How about some faster SPARC processors?

...This won't be the trigger event either.

The only reason Sun still has lots of customers is because everyone expects and knows that Sun will come out with faster SPARC processors - eventually. They've been behind the curve for over a year, so there's a good chance that soon we'll see some leapfrog products soon. But this is what marketers call a "hygiene factor" - something you have to do, or else! But not intrinsically a factor which differentiates you from competitors. Faster SPARC processors will slow down Sun's decline, but will not be enough, by themselves to trigger server revenue growth. Everyone else from Intel to IBM is also in the faster processor business. It's a race in which Sun has to participate, but there are no winners. When you reach the end of the track, you have to start all over again in the next race, in which you are expected to run even faster.

So what would it take?

There is a solution, and it's deceptively simple.

Think about how the market would react if Sun were to launch a complete range of supported SPARC servers running Linux.

It would send out two strong clear messages...

1- SPARC can compete with Itanium in the open Linux market, and beat it.

2 - SPARC/Solaris customers can be confident that their hardware platform has a long future, and will remain competitively priced.

You can already get Linux on SPARC from 3rd parties, and you can get Linux from Sun. But if you look at Sun's own Linux page you won't see any mention of Sun selling a Linux for SPARC.

Why not now? is very simple. SPARC processors aren't currently fast enough. A SPARC Linux server with today's chip technology from Sun would be a dead duck. More expensive and slower than Itanium.

But it doesn't have to be that way. The next time that Sun announces a new SPARC chip family it could use the opportunity to make a big splash in the Linux pond.

With the confidence of fast enough SPARC processors,behind it, and chip pricing which anticipated the higher volumes that would come if Sun were making a credible stab at grabbing 15% of the Linux market, Sun would be a serious contender. Sun would also have to convince a bunch of other OEMs to license SPARC technology, but they've done that before. If the prize were the fast growing Linux market, instead of the slowly declining Solaris market, OEMs will be queuing up in the aisles to use SPARC technology.

Sun has dismissed this option in the past because they were worried about the cannibalization of their SPARC/Solaris customer base. In my view that was muddled thinking. Customers who today migrate from SPARC/Solaris to other architecture Linux will do that anyway.

The future availability of a strong SPARC/Linux product family will be beneficial to Solaris users - there will be a bigger market for processors, and so faster SPARC processors will come out sooner and at lower cost. It will cut down the arguments for users to migrate away from SPARC. It will also offer a credible platform for Sun to attack HP and IBM. It will be good for Sun, good for current and future SPARC users, and good for competition in the computer market. So why doesn't Sun just do it?
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Sun Microsystems

Sun and HDS Extend Marketing Agreements on Storage

PALO ALTO, Calif., TOKYO and SANTA CLARA, Calif. - August 25, 2003 - Sun Microsystems, Hitachi, Ltd., and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Hitachi Data Systems today announced that they have extended the terms of their global distributor agreements and related collaborative agreements for an additional two years, 12 months before the existing agreement was due for renewal. The original agreement, signed in August 2001 and now extended through 2006, has enabled both companies to successfully deliver high-availability and high-performance end-to-end data center solutions.

Since the original agreement, Sun has supplied more than five petabytes and 90,000 drives of Sun StorEdge 9900 series systems, based on the Hitachi Freedom Storage Lightning 9900 V Series platform.

Under the terms of the agreement, the companies will extend their collaboration for hardware, software and services to seamlessly provide improved integration and ease of management in complex environments. Collaboration between the companies consists of marketing, sales support, services and joint customer support centers, in order to provide a better experience for customers in the form of management, interoperability and flexibility in the areas of business continuance and storage management. ...Hitachi Data Systems profile, ...Sun Microsystems profile
Sun Microsystems Sun will Launch its Linux Desktop Terminal Soon

SANTA CLARA, CA - August 13, 2003 - In response to yet another massive security vulnerability in Microsoft's Windows operating system (the MSBlast Internet worm), Sun Microsystems, Inc. today announced the opening of early registration for customers seeking an interoperable and secure alternative to their existing desktop deployments. Project Mad Hatter, Sun's open standards-based desktop, addresses the risk and expense associated with Microsoft Windows and Office platforms by engineering security into its infrastructure from the start, Sun's Project Mad Hatter offers a radical reduction in complexity with comparable increases in security designed to protect customers against exposure to viruses such as the MSBlast worm. ...Sun Microsystems profile

Editor's comments:- Sun started talking about this nearly a year ago. The fact that they still haven't shipped anything suggests to me that they weren't serious the first time round. Well, the market for Sun's standard products hasn't picked up yet, so they have to show shareholders they're doing something about it. Many other small companies have been shipping Linux desktops for years. Sun's Mad Hatter, a heavily disguised Sun terminal masquerading as a Linux PC, is unlikely to change Sun's fortunes.
. "We are very proud to be #1 for a second consecutive year, especially when you consider the company we keep in this ranking", said Mark Johnston, CEO of Tadpole Computer, Inc. "Tadpole is dedicated to delivering 64-bit mobile computing SPARC based solutions to the market and this recognition substantiates our commitment to excellence in that space. We have every expectation that our new product roadmap for 2003/2004 will result in a third year at #1 in 2004."

"Innovation in the SPARC compatible market has not always been rewarded with business success," said Zsolt Kerekes, editor of the SPARC product Directory. "So it's all the more remarkable that Tadpole, the company which created the SPARC compatible notebook product category, was the number one company profile visited by SPARC Product Directory readers for the second consecutive year. Tadpole shows no sign of slowing down its pace of technical and marketing innovation, and with its recent SPARCLE notebook, Tadpole looks set to convert SPARC notebooks into a high volume "must have" product for Sun server developers."
Tadpole Ranked # 1 Two Years in a Row as Most Important SPARC Company by SPARC Product Directory

CUPERTINO, Calif. - August 13, 2003 - Tadpole Computer, Inc. announced today that for the second time in a row it has ranked number one as the most important SPARC company by SPARC Product Directory. The award recently given to Tadpole is a testament to the SPARC portable market growing with many new entrants into the space. Tadpole is the only established vendor of portable 64-bit computing in the USA and there is a growing demand for portability in this market for developing, selling, supporting or using Solaris applications.

Buyers, pre-sales support people, systems integrators and marketers have used the SPARC Product Directory since 1992. This top 10 SPARC manufacturers list provides reliable feedback about the companies, which the directory's readers' regard as being the most important out of the 200 manufacturers listed. The ranking is based on the page views of the company profiles visited by readers in the 2nd quarter of 2003. Profiles can be reached through a number of sources in the directory including, directory listings, news stories, site search-engine and articles. This provides a reliable sampling of relative reader interest.

From the front lines of the military to engineering testing sites, Tadpole has been delivering for over 10 years leading-edge products and services to government and commercial customers worldwide. Focused on 64-bit notebook technology, Tadpole develops and manufactures in the USA the UNIX notebooks that are used to support a broad range of mission-critical systems in the areas of communications, combat systems, battlefield digitization and management. the article, ...Tadpole Computer profile
. "Peritek is very excited about becoming a member of Curtiss-Wright's embedded solutions family," said Victor Gold, president and founder of Peritek. "For VISTA Control's customers, end-of-life issues are a top priority. Together we can supply ruggedized and commercial grade graphics solutions that eradicate obsolescence concerns. Long life programs also demand assurance that they'll have ongoing access to the graphics technology they depend on. Peritek tackles that concern head-on."
Peritek Acquired by Curtiss-Wright

Oakland, Calif. - August 11, 2003 - VISTA Controls, a Curtiss-Wright company and a leading manufacturer of mission critical systems for military and severe environment applications today announced that Peritek Corporation has become a business unit of VISTA Controls, following the acquisition of Peritek by parent company Curtiss-Wright Corporation.

Peritek, a leading supplier of video and graphic display boards for the embedded computing industry is unique among embedded graphic vendors in that it controls its own high performance graphics processor technology, a significant benefit to customers seeking extended life availability of video and display controller technology. Peritek will maintain its brand identity and continue to operate from its headquarters in Oakland. A third VISTA Controls design and manufacturing center, employing over 125 people, is located in Littleton, Mass. ...Peritek profile
Antares Microsystems

. "Turning the TOE concept into real-world board-level solutions will be a key area of focus for SBE. Given the massive installed base of TCP/IP networking equipment enabling today's global electronic communications, the demand for board-level TOE solutions that alleviate the TCP host processor bottlenecks is significant and will only continue to increase as network bandwidth requirements escalate," commented William B. Heye, Jr., president and CEO of SBE. "Antares brings a wealth of products and intellectual property that will complement our existing offerings, and accelerate SBE's development of next generation technologies and products,"
SBE acquires Antares Microsystems

San Ramon, CA - August 11, 2003 - SBE Inc. today announced the purchase of the operating assets of Antares Microsystems. In addition to its existing portfolio of PCI-based boards supporting Solaris and Linux, the Antares product line brings an arsenal of innovative, next generation solutions currently in final stages of development. This advanced breed of new products leverages Antares' R&D investment in TCP/IP Offload Engine (TOE), Serial Attach SCSI (SAS), and its expertise in failover and encryption.

Antares' field-tested portfolio of Ethernet, SCSI, Fibre Channel, and specialty I/O boards has penetrated the Enterprise Sun and Linux markets. Antares products have been integrated into a variety of applications, including storage area networks and mission-critical data centers. Providing optimized price/performance products for Solaris in financial, IT, manufacturing, and government sectors, Antares has secured a solid customer base of both domestic and global distributors, resellers, and OEMs, including Sun Microsystems, Yahoo, Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and General Dynamics. Distribution channels for Antares products have been established both domestically and in overseas markets, such as Europe, Asia, and Australia. ...Antares Microsystems profile, ...SBE profile
Solid State Disks Solid State Disks - a $10 Billion Market in 2007?

Editor:- August 11, 2003 - a new article on says that the Solid State Disk market could be worth as much as $10 Billion in annual revenue by 2007. That's a bigger market than the NAS market is today.

The article includes historic data and the trends which support this view. It's a mistake to think of SSDs as merely storage devices. As server accelerators they're already starting to become a disruptive force changing the way that computer systems are achitected.

In the next generation of high performance Sun servers, SSDs will become "must-have" integrated items to achieve rated performance, and not merely optional bolt-on accelerators as they are today. The article says that the entry of Sun, IBM and HP into the SSD market, by badge enginnering and acquisition, will be significant factors which impact the eventual size of the market, which today is dominated by specialist OEMs unknown to most IT users. the article,
Tadpole Computer
. "As a leader in extending 64-bit notebook technology from the office to the battlefield, we maintain a strong commitment to delivering products that are uniquely qualified to help the U.S. Department of Defense meet its demanding transformation objectives," said Mark Johnston, president and CEO of Tadpole Computer, Inc. "We're very excited to be selected by General Dynamics to participate in the CHS-3 program and look forward to continuing our valued relationship with General Dynamics to provide secure, reliable and powerful cutting-edge solutions to our customers in the military."
General Dynamics Selects Tadpole Computer to Supply SPARC Notebooks for U.S. Army's CHS-3 Program

CUPERTINO, Calif. - August 4, 2003 - Tadpole Computer, Inc. announced today that it will provide 64-bit SPARC/Solaris UNIX notebooks to General Dynamics C4 Systems for the U.S. Army's Common Hardware/Software III (CHS-3) program.

The CHS-3 contract, recently awarded to General Dynamics C4 Systems of Taunton, Mass., is an indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity (ID/IQ) contract with a potential value of up to $2 billion over ten years. CHS-3 was awarded to General Dynamics by the U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command (AMCOM) at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala. The program will be managed by the Army Tactical Operations Center/Air and Missile Defense Command and Control Systems (TOC/AMDCCS).

As a long-term subcontractor to General Dynamics on the predecessor CHS-2 program, Tadpole Computer will continue to provide computer products through 2005 for the duration of that program.

Tadpole's 64-bit UNIX notebook computers were the first ruggedized UltraSPARC laptop computers used by the Army's Fire Support element. The units are rugged tactical computers that are built to survive the modern battlefield. The systems will support various military platforms and applications, including fire control. CHS-3 systems will use COTS architectures to support the digitization efforts of the Army, providing users with access to the same power and performance available from commercial counterpart systems.

Through the CHS-3 program, General Dynamics will provide U.S. Army, Marine Corps and Air Force tactical computer users with next-generation commercial and ruggedized workstations, as well as hardware and software. Under the contract, all other federal agencies also are eligible to purchase computer products and services. In addition to commercial and rugged computers, General Dynamics will provide network hardware equipment, power subsystems, peripheral devices and commercial software to U.S. DoD customers worldwide. ...Tadpole Computer profile
Sun Microsystems Sun Upgrades Sun Fire V480 Server

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - August 4, 2003 - Sun Microsystems, Inc. today announced that its Sun Fire V480 server now features 1.05 GHz UltraSPARC III Cu processors and provides greater processing power.

This increase in processing power has proven a 22% boost in performance and a 26% increase in price-performance.

In the four processor rack-optimized server market (all OS), Sun grew more market share in factory revenue in Q1 2003 than any other vendor year-over-year, according to a recent IDC report. This phenomenal growth was propelled by the Sun Fire V480 server. The Sun Fire V480 system starts at $19,995 with two 1.05 GHz CPUs and 4GB of memory and is generally available now. ...Sun Microsystems profile
. "Customers considering M-Systems' rugged and reliable SCSI flash disks for their Sun workstations and servers running Solaris now have the peace of mind of knowing that interoperability is certified," said Ofer Tsur, M-Systems' Fast Flash Disk marketing manager.
M-Systems' Fast Flash Disks Certified "Solaris Ready"

KFAR SABA, Israel, - August 4, 2003 - M-Systems today announced that its 3.5" Fast Flash Disk products have received "Solaris Ready" Certification from Sun Microsystems.

To earn the "Solaris Ready" designation, M-Systems' 3.5" Ultra-Wide SCSI and 3.5" Narrow SCSI FFD products passed rigorous independent testing and are now certified as compatible with Sun equipment and the Solaris operating system. ...M-Systems profile

See also:- article:- How much should you pay for a Solid State Disk?
Sun Microsystems SunNetwork Conference Registration Opens

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - August 4, 2003 - Sun Microsystems, Inc. has opened registration for its 2nd annual SunNetwork Conference, which will be held September 16-18, at Moscone Center in San Francisco. This three-day technology summit enables attendees to network with innovators and technologists, participate in highly interactive educational and panel sessions, and share best practices and solutions with partners, colleagues and potential customers.

Register before August 9 and receive the Early Bird discount price of $495. Registration between August 9-14, 2002 is $595. Registration between August 15 - September 13 is $695 and on-site registration is $795. ...SunNetwork Conference

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SPARC(R) is a registered trademark of SPARC International, Inc. SPARC PRODUCT DIRECTORY(SM) is a service mark of SPARC International, Inc used under license by ACSL. Products using the SPARC trademarks are based on an architecture developed by Sun Microsystems, Inc.