|Sun, SPARC and Solaris
Highlights and Lowlights in 2005|
Editor:- December 21, 2005 - This
year, the SPARC systems market ended on a more positive note than it
The long term
exodus of oems
from the SPARC market continued in 2005. And the widely held impression that "SPARC"
was just an acronym for "Sun's
Proprietary ARChitecture" whose best days had been in the past meant
that SPARC server revenue continued its decline relative to other server
architectures. But any doubts about Sun's long term future were swept aside in
the middle of the year when Sun acquired
had written about Sun's new strategy for storage in my
2004 review and
predicted that storage would become a bigger part of Sun's business than
servers. The StorageTek acquisition bought into Sun a $1 billion
business, as well as one of the oldest and best respected storage brands in the
industry. The storage market in 2005 was worth over $150 billion in revenue,
much larger than the server market, and also, unlike the server market had a
better prospect of sustaining long term double digit revenue growth. Our big
sister publication STORAGEsearch.com
(over 640,00 readers) predicted that as a result of the acquisition Sun would
become one of the 10
biggest storage companies in 2008. STORAGEsearch tracks the top 1,000
storage companies, and in the past has
mocked Sun's failed
storage acquisitions, disasters and tragedies. This new accolade recognizes that
Sun has learned from its many past mistakes and now has the talent it needs to
achieve much more.
The security of Sun's future, having been assured by
its storage strategy, there was less cause for anxiety about the long term
future of SPARC's progenitor.
During the second half of the year - there was a dripfeed of news
about better SPARC processors to come - culminating with the year end launch of
Sun's UltraSPARC T1 based servers which included more processor cores in one
chip than any other mainstream server architecture. This makes the SPARC
platform look more competitive and desirable than at any time in the past 5
years, but doesn't fix the problem, for some big users, of increasing
performance in applications which have bottlenecks in one or two main threads.
As I've been saying for several years now, the solution to that lies not in
faster Gigahertz processors, but in buying faster storage.
the Solaris X86
market Sun released a string of news stories throughout 2005 quoting
telephone number style numbers about the size of the installed base of its X86
operating system. But if you looked at Sun's server revenues and market share
(as reported by independent analysts) Sun might actually have been better off as
a company if it didn't have this operating system at all. Nearly all the
organizations deploying Solaris X86 are running it on hardware which has not
been bought from Sun. Solaris X86 has made zilch impact in the Intel
Architecture server market, and has not helped Sun's declining server revenue.
In my May 2004
article I suggested how Sun could tweak Solaris X86 to double the
application performance on Intel Architecture hardware. I doubt if that would
lead to substantially more users buying AMD based servers from Sun, but it would
give Sun an inside edge to selling more services and storage products to
users of those systems.
Looking ahead to 2006?
Many of the
storage technologies that been emerging during the past 5 years (InfiniBand,
Serial Attached SCSI
and Solid state disks) will
find that the new generation of T1 based SPARC servers are a hospitable host
environment. Users will have easy access to more competitively priced
performance upgrades than in previous years, and the
away from SPARC may slow down or even change direction.
Holidays to all our readers, and I look forward to seeing you again in 2006.
...Later:- December 2006 - see the article:-
and Competitive Threats in the SPARC Server Market 2007 to 2009
the new Solid State Disks Buyers Guide - published today
Editor:- December 20,
2005 - STORAGEsearch today published the 3rd annual edition of - "the
Solid State Disks Buyers Guide".
The guide lists SSD
products by interface and form factor and summarizes developments in the market
in the past year. This is typically one of the top 3 articles read by
STORAGEsearch.com's readers in the whole year. Even the old editions are quite
the article, Solid state
Multi-Core Microprocessor Market Set for Rapid Growth
El Segundo, Calif. - December 7, 2005 - The
market for multi-core microprocessors is set to explode over the next 10 years,
as their usage rises in products including personal computers, servers and
video-game consoles, according to new research from iSuppli's Emerging
Shipments of multi-core microprocessors most likely will grow to 638
million units in 2015, up from 14.8 million in 2005, according to a long-range
forecast developed by iSuppli. Market revenue will expand to $64.8 billion, up
from $2.6 billion in 2005. The figure below presents iSuppli's most-likely
forecast for multi-core microprocessor unit shipments and revenue.
iSuppli defines the multi-core microprocessor as a
single-chip device that integrates two or more microprocessor cores. In the
traditional single-core microprocessor designs that now are predominant in
electronic products, performance increases are achieved largely by accelerating
clock speed. However, by raising the clock speed, the heat generated by the
processor - and the power it consumes - also are increased. This creates the
need for additional cooling mechanisms in electronic products, such as personal
computers, driving up their cost. With a multi-core microprocessor, each core
on the die is individually clocked at a lower frequency. This can yield
equivalent or greater performance per watt than a single-core microprocessor. A
multi-core microprocessor also can achieve this while being supplied with a
lower voltage. Thus, multi-core microprocessors effectively overcome the power
and heat issues associated with single-core devices.
Multi-core has been almost universally accepted as the optimum design
solution for future microprocessors, with all of the major suppliers now
developing such products. In the PC segment, AMD and Intel Corp. both have
dual-core microprocessors in their product portfolios. AMD was the first to ship
a dual-core PC processor, and is widely perceived to have the lead in dual-core
design. Both suppliers are discussing solutions using more than two cores.
In the server market, AMD, Intel, IBM, Hewlett-Packard and Sun Microsystems all
have dual- core products. IBM was the first supplier to ship dual-core
microprocessors in its server platforms back in 2001. In the video-game console
market, all of the next-generation products will employ multi-core processors.
360, introduced in November, uses a custom IBM processor that has 3 PowerPC
microprocessor cores. IBM multi-core processors also are expected to be used in
Sony's upcoming PlayStation 3 and Nintendo's planned Revolution game console.
Further information can be found about the multi-core microprocessor
market in the new iSuppli report entitled, Emerging Technologies and Products
Market Outlook. ...iSuppli
profile, storage chips,
Sun Announces OpenSPARC Market Initiatives
York - December 6, 2005 - Sun Microsystems, Inc. today announced the
OpenSPARC project to open source its new UltraSPARC T1 processor design point.
With more than 3.4 million registered licenses of the Solaris 10 OS
and 10,000 registered OpenSolaris community members, Sun is building on a long
history of sharing source code and creating communities and is the first to
create this new 64-bit, 32-thread rich SPARC/Solaris community to spur
innovation for massively-threaded systems and "system on a chip"
design. The program will be available in the first quarter of 2006.
Today, Sun also announced plans to publish specifications for the
UltraSPARC-based chip, including the source of the design expressed in Verilog,
a verification suite and simulation models, instruction set architecture
specification (UltraSPARC Architecture 2005) and a Solaris OS port. The goal is
to enable community members to build on proven technology at a markedly lower
cost and to innovate freely. The source code will be released under an
OSI-approved open source license.
In conjunction with the OpenSolaris project, the OpenSPARC initiative
heralds the dawn of a new era of 64-bit industry-standard computing where
communities can leverage well-designed building blocks to innovate and add value
both at the hardware and software levels.
In addition, Sun is actively
working with the open source community to bring Linux and FreeBSD to the
UltraSPARC T1 platform. (Something which I said would be necessary to turnaround
SPARC's declining fortunes in an
article in 2003
Editor's comments:- Sun has been losing market share in
the server market for 5 years. Will the UltraSPARC T1 and using words like "OpenSPARC"
make a dramatic difference to that?
Let's recap on why Sun lost the
merger with StorageTek assures Sun of a continuous future in the
storage market - which is bigger
than the server market and growing faster. So Sun has plenty of time to
experiment with new server strategies.
The UltraSPARC T1 will deliver
lower cost SPARC servers (compared to owning multiple previous generation SPARC
servers) - but they are not substantially faster than before. The market will
decide whether an 8 processor 1.2GHz SPARC chip delivers better
price/performance than a 2 processor 4GHz Intel Architecture chip, or the higher
densities which are in the pipeline. This may give Sun a short term technical
advantage for a year or so. But Sun will have to win a lot of hearts and minds
to reverse the migration in server revenue and market share away from SPARC.
As to the OpenSPARC Project? I applaud the concept. We launched the
SPARC Product Directory in
1992, as an independent publication to support that very concept and for many
years we were leading evangelists (and sometimes apologists) for Sun's server
A cynical view today might be to regard OpenSPARC as a
harmless marketing sound bite.
Look at the facts in the marketplace.
SPARC, which was an open market for much of the period 1987 to 1996, has
become in 2005 - a proprietary market in appearance and effective operation.
OEMs who have short memories and are looking at using the T1 technology in their
own systems should take a hard look first at
The lesson is that most companies which got too close to Sun technology or its
ideal customers got burned when their usefulness was over.
change? I doubt it. But a strong proprietary SPARC market is still better than
a weak one for SPARC users and partners.
on this page|
SPARC Highlights and Lowlights in 2005
Solid State Disks Buyers Guide
Multi-Core CPU Market Set for Rapid
Sun Announces OpenSPARC Market Initiatives
earlier news -
Tape: Can You Afford to Ignore It? - article by MaXXan Systems|
connected disk to disk backup systems for the enterprise have come a long way
since the first pioneering products started to appear in the pages of
STORAGEsearch.com in the late 1990s.
Some of the growing
sophistication in the market can be seen by the way that the marketing
terminology has morphed from the early D2d (let's kill tape backup), via D2D2T
(let's be friends with tape / peaceful coexistence) to the current VTL (Virtual
Tape Library - let's just see if they notice that it's more reliable and works
faster - and don't tell them that there isn't a tape in the box) type of
But if you think that speed, reliability and cost are the
only things you need to know about the "virtual" versus "real"
tape library argument - take a look at this comprehensive article from MaXXan
Systems which shows there are a lot more benefits than that. ...read the article,
Disk to disk backup
Serial Attached SCSI - Delivering Flexibility to the
Data Center - article by LSI Logic and Maxtor
If you think
you already know SAS because you know SATA and traditional SCSI then think
again. Sometimes disruptive technologies wear an unassuming disguise. In
fiction, Clark Kent, Frodo Baggins and Buffy Summers at first seem harmless, but
we see them change into Superman, the Ring Bearer and the Slayer.
too comes cloaked in plain garb - with a physical layer which looks a lot like
SATA. But like the Incredible Hulk there are muscles rippling under that shirt -
and you would be wrong to dismiss SAS so lightly. There's a lot more inside this
interface than it says on the box as this informative article reveals. ...read the article,
...LSI Logic profile,
Serial Attached SCSI
the Solid State Disks Buyers Guide|
is the 4th annual edition of this very popular report (published September
The earlier edition of this article was the #1 most popular
storage article viewed
by STORAGEsearch.com's readers in
the previous quarter.
SSD Buyers Guide
lists all SSD products commercially available in the market by form factor,
interface type and memory technology. It also includes a summary of key
milestones in the SSD market in the past year.
article, solid state disks|