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SPARC History - 2004, April

See also:- After SSDs... What Next?
flash SSD Jargon Explained
Are Sun's Days Numbered?
Surviving the Solaris x86 Wars
the Last Market Report on Sun Compatible OEMs?

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Sun Shipping UltraSPARC IV Servers

SANTA CLARA, Calif. - April 27, 2004 - Sun Microsystems, Inc. is now shipping the first of its mid-range UltraSPARC IV processor-based throughput computing systems, the Sun Fire E4900 and E6900 server systems.

Customers are already reaping the benefits of nearly double the performance in their data center in the same footprint, with the new enterprise systems from Sun. The University of Zurich, DaimlerChrysler, and Vodafone have all upgraded to the new systems.

The Sun Fire systems tightly integrate on-chip capabilities with the Solaris operating system to enable customers to mix and match UltraSPARC III and UltraSPARC IV processors in their systems. This allows customers to accelerate performance at a fraction of the cost of upgrading the entire system. Customers can easily mix and match speeds and generations of UltraSPARC processors within the same domain, and achieve double the performance without disruption or downtime.

Products currently shipping include the Sun Fire E4900 – a mid-sized 12-processor departmental server system – and the E6900 – a large 24-processor server – are ideal for data center tasks such as large databases, data mining or server consolidation applications. These additions to the Sun Fire family of products provide hot swap and plug-and-play capabilities through dynamic reconfiguration technology, as well as support for clustering and linear scalability. The new servers are based on the Sun Fireplane interconnect, multithreaded UltraSPARC IV 1.05 to 1.2 GHz processors and scalable high-end SMP architecture. A full range of pricing promotions for hardware and storage are further reducing costs for qualified customers from 10 to 40 percent. ...Sun profile

Don't Miss the Early Signs of the Sun Market Recovery

Editor:- April 22, 2004 - a lot of people (me included) missed the start of the 2000-2003 IT recession...

It hit Intel and PC makers first, and didn't seem to start affecting the Sun and storage markets till about 5 months later. Sun may have brought itself extra time by stuffing the channel with servers that wouldn't be needed, as was reported to me later by a distributor which pulled out of the Sun market. But that's an old story. I'm interested in what's happening right now.

It's just as likely that a lot of people will miss the start of the recovery in the Sun market too.

Is there a recovery? - You may ask skeptically.

Yes, well I'm just as surprised as you are, but that's what's predicted by pageviews in the SPARC Product Directory in March which were higher than at the same time in 2001, 2002 and 2003. And our SPARC readership is 22% up on a year ago too. I have to say this is not what I expected. But then the market knows best, and here are the reasons why.

There has been a recovery going on in the PC and non SPARC server market for 8 months. Also a huge recovery in the storage market with dozens of manufacturers reporting double digit revenue growth. (The storage market will grow faster than the rest of the computer market, because the storage market is going to replace a lot of servers. But that's another story.) Mysteriously the recovery in server revenues reported by IBM, Dell and HP last year seem to have passed Sun by. Sun users held back probably because they were wondering if Sun itself had a future, but also because they weren't being offered the kinds of performance enhancements that were being seen in the Intel architecture market. So why rush to buy another slow box from a company which might not be around to support it?

Sun's recent deal with Microsoft has bought them the cash to ride out another 6 - 9 months of time to make their plans work. That's more than long enough for Sun to start getting the positive benefits from their new SPARC IV servers. Sun's biggest institutional customers will be brushing off the cobwebs from their checkbooks and creating the biggest surge of orders that Sun has seen since 1999. Sun's technology deal with Fujitsu (though not confirmed at this time) also provides an assured stream of high end SPARC processors and servers - with shared development costs and therefore less contribution to losses for Sun.

Most Sun VARs will miss the early signs of the recovery because they have dug into their trenches so deep that they are invisible to potential customers, and they have learned to mistrust the optimistic hype which flows ever on down from Sun. So even when some of that hype is true, they'll ignore it.

But what's important is not what Sun is doing or saying, it's what their customers are thinking and doing. They're always the ones who lead the market, whatever the direction. Analysts interpret long after. ...ACSL (publisher) profile

See also:- article:- Storage Winners and Losers from the 2000-2003 IT Recession

Sun's SPARC V Execution Doesn't Matter

Editor:- April 20, 2004 - Sun has recently announced plans to stop developing the SPARC V chip, which was originally delayed from 2000, and which an interview with IDG journalists reported in the INQUIRER indicates that Sun doesn't think is necessary any more.

An earlier article which appeared a few days ago in The Register suggests this casts doubt on Sun's SPARC roadmap.

I've been watching the introduction of new processors for 20 years, and there have been many occasions in the past when, for example, Intel has canned a processor generation because the design team which was supposed to come after them had more promising results or was closer to a finished product. Or sometimes the planned processor was too late (as with SPARC V) or had too many technical problems.

Just as SPARC processors can execute instructions out of sequence, if the results are independent, so too marketers can introduce new products out of the original sequence in which they were planned. Although we're not going to see an imminent SPARC VI, I wouldn't lose sleep over it if I were you. Sometimes pulling the plug on a design team gone wrong is the right thing to do and it happens a lot more often than you might think.

Those in the real world will just be glad to get their hands on SPARC IV systems which in stacking up in crates ready to ship soon.

NextCom Aims Dual SPARC Processor Portable at Homeland Security Applications

Nashua, NH - April 19, 2004 - NextCom LLC announces the availability of a new product line, FlexSPARCIII, which is targeted at deployable military-aerospace, homeland security, imagery, and EDA applications.

FlexSPARCIII is a truly innovative and disruptive technology platform intended for use as a next generation64 bit mission critical and mission deployable enterprise open standards computing platform. This system packs Dual 64 bit UltraSPARCIIIi processor technology with up to 16GB of memory, Ultra160 SCSI, dual Gigabit Ethernet, and the highest performance 2D and 3D graphics in an all-in-one aluminum alloy rugged briefcase style Mobile Graphics Workstation and Mobile Server. FlexSPARC III offers unprecedented performance in a reconfigurable, expandable, and deployable platform. ...NextCom profile

Sun Wants to Simplify Business Interfaces for US VARs

SAN DIEGO, Calif. - April 19, 2004 - To help U.S. channel partners increase profitability through solutions-led sales, Sun Microsystems today unveiled a unified channel framework that will dramatically simplify the way in which partners engage and do business with Sun.

The comprehensive architecture integrates previously disparate systems, software and services partner programs from across the company, allowing qualified partners to sell any - or all - of Sun's products and services through a single contract and a single point of contact within Sun.

The unified framework allows U.S. partners to engage with Sun at three distinct levels: Foundation, Premier and Elite. The Foundation level is designed to support entry-level partners focused on the mid-market. The Premier level is a mid-tier program for existing partners that have made significant investments in selling Sun's entire product line. The Elite level will reward partners that have made extraordinary investments in helping Sun deliver technology and business solutions to all customers and markets.

The integrated framework will provide partners easier access and visibility to the entire portfolio of Sun products and services, helping them sell complete solutions based on the Sun platform. The new framework will also help lower administrative costs with a single agreement process. ...Sun profile, SPARC VARs - USA

Editor's comments:- while Sun was growing, and I would say upto about 1999, it was a pretty good company for VARs to work with compared to other major server OEMs like HP and IBM. Demand for their products was growing and a lot of VARs signed up to catch the upward momentum.

But then a combination of corporate arrogance and desperation to win business at any cost meant that hundreds of Sun VARs found it difficult or nearly impossible to survive in the period 2000 - 2003. That's because Sun was taking more business directly. To make things worse many of Sun's products were uncompetitive in the more difficult contracting IT market. At the same time Sun killed off nearly all the smaller SPARC oems with which it competed in the entry level and mid range commercial systems market by uncompetitive chip pricing. As I've said in many articles in recent years, Sun needs its partners more than ever before. But many VARs will be more wary about how closely they work with Sun because they've been burned before.

UNH-IOL Completes Industry's First Multi-Vendor Test of Newly Minted 10 Gigabit Ethernet Over Copper

DURHAM, N.H. - April 12, 2004 - The University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory has completed the first full-scale multi-vendor interoperability test of the newly ratified IEEE standard for interconnecting systems at 10 Gigabit/sec over copper cable.

The IEEE standard, IEEE Std 802.3ak (10GBASE-CX4), was approved in late February. The technology provides an affordable way for Ethernet routers, switches and server clusters located within 15 meters of each other to exchange data at 10 Gb/sec over copper twinaxial cables.

The event ran March 22-26 at the UNH-IOL and included products from: BitBlitz Communications, Broadcom Corporation, Cisco Systems, Fujitsu, LEONI High Speed Cables GmbH, Molex Connector Corporation, Mysticom Semiconductor, PMC-Sierra, Quake Technologies, Spirent Communications, and W.L. Gore. ...UNH-IOL

Themis SBCs and Graphics Adaptors Selected for Advanced Naval Gun Control

FREMONT, California - April 6, 2004 - Themis Computer announced the use of its USPIIe-USB VMEbus single-board computers and TGA3D+ graphics adaptors by Oto Melara for use in its 76/62 high speed, medium calibre gun systems.

Oto Melara's 76/62 gun mount has been successfully adopted by 51 Navies throughout the world, and the company and its licensees have produced over 1000 units. The Oto Melara 76/62 guns are a major advance in gun evolution, and are more effective than other guns of similar calibre. Under the agreement, Themis Computer will provide the USPIIe-USB and TGA3D+ graphics adaptors for use in Oto Melara 76/62 naval gun systems.

Working closely with Goma Elettronica, one of the largest system integrators in Italy, Oto Melara selected Themis' USPIIe/1 boards and TGA3D+ graphics adaptors for use in its high-speed, 76/62 naval gun systems. The rate of fire (120 rounds per minute) ensures the highest delivery of payload per unit time, the accuracy is at highest levels and a large choice of ammunition is available. Due to its size and weight, the Oto Melara 76/62 guns can be installed on any class of vessels, and it offers its best performances in anti-aircraft, anti-missile and surface actions, resulting in a unique multi-role capacity.

"Our USPIIe-USB family of single board computers provide the high performance, and robustness of Solaris and SPARC hardware, required for mission-critical defense applications," stated William E. Kehret, president of Themis Computer. "As a supplier to Oto Melara with earlier USP-1v board products, it's gratifying to see our latest high performance boards selected ahead of others. Because our boards provide robust reliability for shock loads of up to 40 G's, and support a wealth of graphics tools, we believe they are a good match for the Oto Melara gun mount program. We strive to provide the highest performance and the best reliability for environmentally demanding, mission critical applications." ...Themis Computer profile

Sun Licenses NAS Technology from Procom

IRVINE, Calif. - April 6, 2004 - Procom Technology, Inc. today announced it has signed a multi-year agreement with Sun Microsystems, Inc. under which Sun may license certain Procom technologies.

Additionally, Procom will also provide engineering and support services to Sun.

"Sun Microsystems is one of the true innovators in the IT industry, and their licensing decision validates the strength of our technology and our engineering team," said Alex Razmjoo, Procom's CEO. "Procom is committed to developing OEM partnerships, and few companies can match the industry reputation and global presence of Sun Microsystems." ...Procom Technology profile, ...Sun profile

RSA Helps Education Market Reduce Document Production Costs with QDirect.EDU

Rochester, New York - April 5, 2004 - Rochester Software Associates today announced the availability of QDirect.EDU-a new solution that enables school districts, colleges, and universities to optimize the utilization of their document production resources.

QDirect.EDU automates the process of distributing high volume jobs that originate as hardcopy to a centralized print facility, thereby lowering costs and improving productivity.

"We originally focused on the K-12 market for QDirect.EDU, but the solution's value proposition is just as compelling for colleges, universities, corporations and government facilities with multiple buildings or campuses," said Tim Kelly, Sr. VP, RSA. ...RSA profile

Sun Gains $1.6 billion from Settling Dispute with Microsoft

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - April 2, 2004 - Microsoft Corporation and Sun Microsystems, Inc. today announced that they have entered into a broad technology collaboration arrangement to enable their products to work better together and to settle all pending litigation between the two companies.

The companies have also entered into agreements on patents and other issues. The agreements involve payments of $700 million to Sun by Microsoft to resolve pending antitrust issues and $900 million to resolve patent issues. In addition, Sun and Microsoft have agreed to pay royalties for use of each other's technology, with Microsoft making an up-front payment of $350 million and Sun making payments when this technology is incorporated into its server products.

The Technical Collaboration Agreement will provide both companies with access to aspects of each other's server-based technology and will enable them to use this information to develop new server software products that will work better together. The cooperation will initially center on Windows Server and Windows Client, but will eventually include other important areas, including email and database software.

The companies have agreed that Microsoft may continue to provide product support for the Microsoft Java Virtual Machine that customers have deployed in Microsoft's products

The parties have agreed to a broad covenant not to sue with respect to all past patent infringement claims they may have against each other. The agreement also provides for potential future extensions of this type of covenant. The two companies have also agreed to embark on negotiations for a patent cross-license agreement between them. ...Microsoft profile, ...Sun Microsystems profile

Editor's comments:- this settlement is good news for Sun which today reported an expected net loss for the most recent quarter (on a GAAP basis) in the range of $750 million to $810 million on revenue of $2.65 billion. Sun is restructuring again and its workforce will be reduced by approximately 3,300 people.
Sun Shipping UltraSPARC IV Servers

Don't Miss the Early Signs of the Sun Market Recovery

Sun's SPARC V Execution Doesn't Matter

NextCom Aims Dual SPARC Portable at Homeland Security

Sun Wants to Simplify Business Interfaces for US VARs

10 Gigabit Ethernet Over Copper Compatibility Tests

Themis SBCs Selected for Advanced Naval Gun Control

Sun Licenses NAS Technology from Procom

RSA Helps Education Reduce Document Production Costs

Sun Gains $1.6 billion from Settling Dispute with Microsoft

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Nibble:- The Sun Microsoft Settlement

hen you cut away all the rhetoric about this deal the most important thing from the viewpoint of SPARC readers - is that the $1.6 billion nett which Sun will get from Microsoft buys another 6 to 9 months of life at Sun's current burn rate. In that time a lot of things can happen.

Most significantly Sun's new SPARC 4 servers will hit a market which is desperate for higher performance, and moreover, because of the US economic recovery can actually afford to buy those systems.

Provided that Sun does a good packaging deal in its top of the line servers to integrate performance accelerators (such as wire speed Fibre-Channel and TCP IP Offload host bus adapters, and fast disks - maybe even solid state disks) the performance figures should be very competitive.

Unlike Intel which has to wait ages before Microsoft tweaks its operating systems to use new hardware features, Sun as usual, has been designing the new version of Solaris to do that all along the way. That's one reason why new SPARC processors always look good - they benefit from simultaneous hardware and software enhancements at the time they are announced.

For Microsoft the settlement is small change, and may improve its legal battle with the European Union. Its battle with Sun is old news. Microsoft isn't fighting that war any more. That was World War I. Microsoft's current war is in the storage space. When data storage systems became operating system agnostic that threatened to make the server OS irrelevant. Microsoft reacted by providing a version of its server software which actually runs on storage appliances. That way it wins whatever happens.

Microsoft lost the war to power cell phones (Linux won that one) but the server storage war is more visible and has been getting a lot more attention recently.

Back to the deal's effects on Sun... Will we see a spate of new Sun AMD powered servers which are Windows compatible?

Although the settlement opens the door to that, nobody really cares, and that's not the way that Sun will survive.

Sun will live or die by its success as keeping SPARC servers running as competitive alternatives to Intel Architecture systems. If IBM could do it with their mainframes than Sun still has a fighting chance, and now it's got a much longer breathing space in which to make that happen.

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SSD Industry Articles and Bookmarks - #1 of 100 - March 5, 2009

suggested by - Greg Goelz - VP of Marketing, Pliant Technology
Here's an article written by or about Pliant...

Enterprise Flash Drives Target the Data Center - published in Byte and Switch

Greg Goelz says he chose this because - "This article provides an overview of Pliant Technology's Enterprise Flash Drive solution, and discusses the key issues facing data centers with respect to increasing I/O performance and storage reliability requirements, as well as new "Green IT" requirements."

Other SSD article suggestions...

When to expect solid state drives in the enterprise - in which interviews Mark Peters, an analyst at Enterprise Strategy Group.

The Top 5 Trends in High Performance Computing for 2009 - published in Computer Technology Review

Greg Goelz says - "These articles provide insight and projections on the market opportunity for SSD technology, and highlight the key factors (e.g., I/O performance, energy efficiency, reliability) that will drive enterprise SSD adoption and market growth."

Editor:- thanks Greg for sharing your SSD links.

see also:- Pliant Technology - editor mentions on and Pliant's blog which regularly discusses enterprise SSD themes.

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