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SPARC History - 2004, December

SSDs speed up Santa's Naughty / Nice Lists
will Santa be able to land at Gatwick airport this Christmas?
other news on this page
Scary Christmas, Foil and Humbug

Editor:- December 23, 2004 - In previous years I used to wait till Christmas Eve before buying the tree and doing the Christmas present and food shopping.

But last year I nearly came unstuck with this last minute dot con Christmas shopping plan and had to drive around 30 miles and visit half a dozen likely shops before I found a tree. The whole Christmas thing is starting so early nowadays... So this year to save time and fuel I decided to do the tree shopping a bit earlier. I thought it was early. Hell it was 5 days earlier than I usually do it. But when I got to my local garden center on Sunday they only had 5 scrawny bushes left.

As we're standing it against the wall - the fact that the "tree" is lopsided and only has branches on the lower third of the stalk doesn't matter so much. My wife has padded out the space with decorations - so it doesn't look quite so much like a plant from Star Trek .

We booked a slot with our regular online grocery supplier to deliver the turkey and the next week's worth of food at 9 o'clock tonight - so we hope it arrives otherwise we'll be joining the mad rush in the shops tomorrow.

Everyone else I know always got their tree up and decorated at the start of December and their fridges and freezers were already bursting with Yuletide fare a week before the deadline. How do people find the time to get that organised? - I ask myself. December 25th always comes as a complete surprise to me. Not using a diary or organiser, or any form of pda and possibly being the only person on the whole planet without a cell phone - I only worked out that Christmas fell on a Saturday - the week before. So I was unable to join in the sagacious conversations which discussed the details of where exactly people were going to be on what day and when they were going to finish work. Why do people need this kind of information?

Whether you're ready yet or not - I hope it works out for you and you have the best Christmas you can. For some people death, separation or illness makes this a very difficult time. For others - the chore of being sociable to relatives whom you rarely see also presents challenges. I assume there are some people who actually enjoy Christmas. Humbug! That's just an urban myth created by consumer advertisers.

Anyway - isn't it about time you stopped working and checked that list of things you need to pick up on the way home? Baking foil is the thing I usually forget - because we only use it once a year.

Happy Christmas and New Year to you all.

Zsolt Kerekes Editor/Publisher

PS - If anyone's interested I've written some new scribbles on goblinsearch.com this year. The idea that one day when I retire I may have to earn a living doing fictional scribbles is even more scary than Christmas.

...Later - Friday Dec 24 AM - I knew I shouldn't have mentioned the foil. That's the one thing that Ocado forgot in their Christmas delivery last night. I think the long tubes - which don't fit in their plastic staging crates - were probably in another part of the van. We weren't the only ones apparently not to get their foil according to customer service. So it's a quick trip out to Tesco Express this morning. Ugh! how I hate doing offline shopping. You get the cold wind and the wet rain unlike the nice white snow in the online virtual malls. And you get sneezed on by other shoppers who might give you the flu. (That was last Christmas - 2 weeks wiped out - so I should be imune now hopefully. Bah humbug. Time to book the summer holiday.)


SPARC Product Directory - 2004 Review

editor:- December 17, 2004 - published today in the SPARC Product Directory - is a new article - "Sun, SPARC and Solaris Highlights and Lowlights in 2004."

2004 was a major turning point in the history of the Sun, SPARC and Solaris systems market. This end of year review summarises all the main market developments, lists the top news stories and makes some key predictions about 2005. ...read the article


HP Gambles Another $3 Billion on Itanium 2-based Integrity Server to Win

PALO ALTO, Calif. - December 16, 2004 - HP today announced an investment of more than $3 billion over the next three years designed to vault Intel Itanium 2-based HP Integrity servers to the leadership position in the $20 billion market currently served by RISC processors.

Building on strong Integrity server sales momentum, this investment will span research and development, server and system software design, partner-led application solutions, and sales and marketing. In related news today, Intel Corporation reached agreement with HP to hire HP's Intel Itanium processor design team based in Ft. Collins, Colo., strengthening its investment in the Itanium architecture and bolstering the development of multi-core, multi-threaded processors. This agreement is designed to accelerate broader industry adoption of the Itanium architecture in Intel's target markets of RISC replacement, high-performance technical computing and mainframe replacement. ...HP profile

Editor's comments:-
now I'm not a betting person, but this to me looks very much like a desperate bluff by HP to convince wannabe 64 bit server customers that HP is prepared to take some heat in getting market share in this business. And that heat comes from 2 directions:- Sun - with its 8 year established 64 bit SPARC architecture, and other Linux server makers who use AMD's 64 bit Opteron chip.

Intel failed miserably to establish its Itanium 1 as a 64 bit standard. The 2 reasons were:- binary code incompatibility with the x86 legacy software base and lack lustre performance. HP was a prominent supporter of Intel's original Itanium development. But most commentators agree that Intel has already lost the battle to establish Itanium as the flagship chip for a future 64 bit version of Windows.

No one in the Intel camp is going to admit that for certain until the battle is well and truly lost. Intel's technology partners will have signed non disclosure agreements and won't want to piss off a strategic chip partner. Most IT publications will similarly want to protect themselves from having the Intel Inside advertising cushion pulled away from under them.

But an experienced Intel watcher and former senior Intel marketer I spoke to suggested anonymously that although Intel is likely to pursue Itanium for another generation - Intel will most likely aim to develop an Opteron killer binary code compatible alternative processor as its real long term strategy.

Intel has had failed processor architectures in the past. In 1981 - Intel promoted a 32 bit processor called the Intel iAPX 432 to woo customers away from Motorola's future 68000 family. I remember as an experienced digital design engineer at the time being very impressed with all the documentatin and handbooks Intel sent to people like me who were designing high end microprocessor based products to manage their low end 8 bit micro based product lines. The iAPX 432 was a good smoke screen and attention grabber - and most of us decided at that time to follow the Intel 16 bit path which started with route 8086.

My gut feel that the Itanium 2 will be a dead end architecture, and all the money which HP and others say they will invest in making it a success won't change the fact that the 64 bit Intel Architecture Linux race has already been won by AMD, while the RISC Unix race will be won by SPARC / Solaris.


Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing and Critical I/O Partner to Provide High Performance Gigabit Ethernet Solutions

Ottawa, Canada - December 15, 2004 - Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing and Critical I/O announced today the culmination of collaborative work resulting in a range of solutions for embedded system designers needing high performance Gigabit Ethernet technology in embedded military and aerospace applications.

The work was performed as part of Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing "EXTENS IONS" Certified Partner Products program. Now system designers can select Critical I/O's industry-leading XGE line of Gigabit Ethernet PMC's with the assurance that it will interoperate functionally, electrically and mechanically with a range of CWCEC products including the SCP/DCP-122 3U CompactPCI 750FX-based SBC and VME-680 SwitchBlade 6U VME 12/20/24 port Gigabit Ethernet switch.

The Critical I/O XGE line of TCP/IP Offload Engine (TOE) based PMC's dramatically reduces CPU loading while maximizing Gigabit Ethernet throughput. With the SCP/DCP-122, the XGE-4010 achieves a sustained throughput of 108 MByte/s while requiring a CPU load of less than 1% of the 800 MHz 750FX basecard processor.

At maximum throughput, other Gigabit Ethernet solutions consume 100% of the basecard CPU and are still not able to match the Critical I/O XGE's data rates. For compute intensive applications that require high data rates and low CPU overhead, the Critical I/O XGE PMC and a Curtiss-Wright Controls Embedded Computing basecard is an unbeatable combination. ...Curtiss-Wright Controls profile, Ethernet NICs


SBS Technologies Announces New CompactPCI DSP I/O Boards

ALBUQUERQUE, NM - December 15, 2004 - Today, SBS Technologies introduced a new member of its line of DSP-based I/O Interface boards for military and defense applications.

The 6U DIO1-6CP provides a highly versatile interface between a CompactPCI bus and DSP-based inputs and outputs. The 6U DIO1-6CP is available in commercial, conformal-coated and conduction-cooled versions.

This 6U CompactPCI DSP-based I/O interface board is based on Texas Instruments' TMS5402 DSP and Altera's 1K ACEX FPGA devices. The 6U CompactPCI DSP-based I/O interface board features two PMC Interface slots for added versatility. Based on SBS core designs, the 6U DIO1-6CP has varying I/O capabilities that can be added to or modified from an extensive array of previously designed and verified I/O circuits.

These CompactPCI commercial and conduction-cooled DSP-based I/O boards can handle a wide variety of signals and perform on-the-fly signal processing, making them ideal for mission computers and other applications with harsh environmental demands. DSP program code and FPGA configuration data can be downloaded and stored in Flash memory via the host processor, allowing the 6U DIO1-6CP to combine the functionality of several specialty boards while saving precious backplane slots for other uses. Because this board design is based upon a programmable architecture, SBS can provide custom features such as Engineering Unit conversion and precise timing of signals and sample rates. The DIO1-6CP DSP-based I/O board supports Wind River Systems' VxWorks, Green Hills Software's Integrity and Microsoft Windows operating systems and comes configured with built-in testing capability software. List pricing starts at $7,200 ...SBS Technologies profile, SPARC SBCs - compactPCI, DSP cards


Strategic Technologies are Stars Says Sun

Cary, NC - December 13, 2004 - Strategic Technologies (STI) announced that its Strategic Customer Care team recently participated in Sun Microsystems' Help Desk Accreditation Program and met Sun's operational readiness requirements by receiving a perfect score of 100%.

In order to maintain its ServiceManager authorization, a company is required to receive a minimum passing score of 70%. STI's Strategic Customer Care team diagnoses and resolves IT issues, offering multiple levels of support - from proactive, mission-critical service to basic, self-service maintenance. Strategic Technologies also offers support for VERITAS, StorageTek, HP, BMC, Brocade, Cisco, Wintel, and many others.

Pat Allen, vice president, Strategic Technologies, commented, "Achieving 100% on this test is a huge statement about our Strategic Customer Care team and the team's education, commitment, and quality of processes used to service our customers. When you score 100 out of 100 on a very difficult test, you are at the absolute top of the heap in an extremely competitive industry." ...Strategic Technologies profile


Santa's Sleigh will be Loaded with SPARC Stuff

Editor:- December 13, 2004 - pageviews in the SPARC Product Directory shot up by 40% last week compared to the weekly average in the past quarter.

In the past 4 years the only time we didn't see this type of November to December pageviews surge was in 2001 following the terrorist attacks on 9/11. There are 2 main reasons for it happening now.
  • US companies (with annual budgets that end in December) shop around at this time of year, either to spend what they already have, or to plan for their purchases in the new year. January is usually another growth month for SPARC reader activity.
  • Savvy Sun customers know that the later they buy within any quarter - the better the deals they get. That's because in recent years Sun has offered massive discounts to customers who can book orders close to the end of the quarter.
Either way it's good news for SPARC vendors and a market which - despite being written off by many analysts - will probably grow by as much as 10% in revenue in 2005. SPARC market history


Sun Establishes New Oracle High Volume Order Processing Benchmark

SANTA CLARA, Calif., - December 7, 2004 - Sun Microsystems, Inc. announced today that the combination of the Oracle E-Business Suite 11i9, Oracle Database 10g running on Sun Fire E4900 systems with the Solaris 10 OS and Sun StorEdge 6100 series storage arrays achieved a record throughput of 1.27 Million order lines per hour using the Oracle Applications Standard Batch benchmark.

The batch benchmark includes the High Volume Order Import (HVOP) program, which is one of the batch components of the Oracle eBusiness Suite Order Management module. The HVOP benchmark focuses exclusively on meeting the high order volumes originating from the electronic channels, such as consumer and business web sites, B2B exchanges, and EDI/XML.

The Oracle OASB HVOP benchmark test was performed on a Sun Fire E4900 server with 12 UltraSPARC-IV processors at 1.2GHz running the Oracle E-Business Suite 11i9, Oracle Database 10g, the Solaris 10 OS, and two Sun StorEdge 6100 series storage arrays. ...Sun profile

Editor's comments:- a few years back, Sun was regularly on its knees and eating dirt in the server benchmark wars. A new OS (Solaris 10) and faster chips have brought the wannabe kung foo fighter back out from where it has been hiding.



New Open Standards ORG for IBM's RISC Architecture

BEIJING, CHINA - December 2, 2004 - In a step sure to spark major innovation in the design of consumer electronics, networking, automotive, and IT systems, 15 companies today announced their intention to form Power.org, an open standards community around chips and systems which use Power Architecture technology.

Power microprocessors are the heartbeat of products ranging from video gaming systems and telematics to supercomputers. As one of the industry's leading high performance customizable microprocessors, it has witnessed tremendous momentum this year. Coming together to form the Power.org community are AMCC, Bull, Cadence Design Systems, Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing, Culturecom, IBM, Jabil Circuit, Novell, Red Hat, Sony Corporation, Shanghai Belling, Synopsys, Thales, Tundra Semiconductor and Wistron.

More companies are expected to expand the development community in the weeks ahead to accelerate open standards collaboration for Power and PowerPC technology leading to a new generation of applications.

With pooled resources to make specifications readily available to the technical community, Power.org efforts are expected to facilitate creation of new devices and components available for Power microprocessor technology. The development community expects that the next wave of innovation in electronics, in areas such as consumer devices, will require a highly optimizable microprocessor technology, one able to be quickly tuned to create entire new products for growing market segments In addition advances in video gaming, networking, and consumer electronics are demanding integration of products from multiple vendors to deliver new functions. Power.org, ...IBM profile

Editor's comments:- 15 years ago Sun did something similar for SPARC. With the promise of an open licensing regime for its processor and Sun's host bus adapter technology (SBus) - by the mid 1990s Sun had aggregated hundreds of computer manufacturers in a common cause - to promote the greater awareness and a richer product base for its SPARC Solaris platform. But in 1996 - most of the SPARC chip companies failed to make the transition to a 64 bit chip. Left with control of the operating systems and a weakly competing chip partner (Fujitsu) - Sun used its business advantages to kill off any uncomfortable competitors and reap a virtual monopoly in the SPARC systems market. Unlike England's historic King Henry 8th - who removed troublesome wives by decapitation or divorce, Sun's serial killer methods were less public and left less forensic evidence - but were just as successful.

Nowadays, much of the talk coming from Sun is about its wish to make Solaris an open source standard (so it can kill of Linux). Unfortunately for Sun - that won't work - because in a couple of years - extrapolating from current market revenue data - the annual Linux server business (based on factory shipments) will be bigger than that for Solaris servers. Nevertheless Solaris will remain a bigger installed base than Linux for at least 3 years - even if Sun doesn't manage to brainwash new users into adopting its "open" Solaris plans. My guess is that the Power.org announcement (hatched and penned by IBM) is perfectly timed to add muddle and confusion into the crystal ball of users looking for a clear long term non Intel Architecture server strategy. Add in the fog caused by HP's unsuccessful transition plan for for its Alpha users and you get what Sherlock Holmes might have called a real pea souper. The way ahead is far from clear. But I will try to shed some light in my series of Solaris Wars articles.

See also:- Industry trade associations
Scary Christmas, Foil and Humbug

2004 SPARC Market Review

HP Gambles Another $3 Billion on Itanium 2

New High Performance Gigabit Ethernet for VME

New CompactPCI DSP I/O Boards

Strategic Technologies are Stars Says Sun

Santa's Sleigh will be Loaded with SPARC Stuff

Sun Establishes New Oracle Benchmark

New Open Standards ORG for IBM's RISC
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Sun has had an impressive track record of promoting innovation and inventing new computer technology, especially in its younger more creative days. Which of the following statements is true?

(a) - Sun invented the microprocessor.

(b) - Sun invented Unix.

(c) - the first C compiler was written on a Sun-1 workstation.

(d) - Sun was the co-inventor of Ethernet (along with Xerox and DEC).

(e) - Sun invented RAID.

(f) - Sun invented RISC.

(g) - all of the above.

(h) - none of the above.

This is just one of many similar questions you'll find in our entertaining Sun SPARC Trivia Quiz
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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.