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Sun, SPARC and Solaris Highlights and Lowlights in 2005

See also:- article:- Surviving the Solaris x86 Wars
Squeak! - the Solid State Disks Buyers Guide
Squeak! - the Fastest Growing Storage Companies
article:- the 2005 Market Report on Sun Compatible OEMs
article:- Serial Attached SCSI: New Interface, New Storage Rack?
article:- Hardware Upgrades to Make Your Sun SPARC Server Go Faster
article:- Growth Opportunities and Competitive Threats in the SPARC Server Market 2007 to 2009
current SPARC news, earlier SPARC news, SPARC VARs - USA, Articles about Sun, Articles about storage
SPARC History:- December 2000, December 2001, December 2002, December 2003, December 2004, December 2005
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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 had started.

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 StorageTek.

I 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 storage service 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.

Turning to 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 migration away from SPARC may slow down or even change direction.

Happy Holidays to all our readers, and I look forward to seeing you again in 2006.

...Later:- December 2006 - see the article:- Growth Opportunities 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 popular. ...read the article, Solid state disks


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 Technologies service.

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.
news image from iSuppli
Power/performance benefits of multi-core

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 momentum

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. Microsoft's Xbox 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, Market research


Sun Announces OpenSPARC Market Initiatives

New 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 - Ed.)

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 server market. But Sun's 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 technology.

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 SPARC History. The lesson is that most companies which got too close to Sun technology or its ideal customers got burned when their usefulness was over.

Will that change? I doubt it. But a strong proprietary SPARC market is still better than a weak one for SPARC users and partners.
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other news on this page

SPARC Highlights and Lowlights in 2005

new Solid State Disks Buyers Guide

Multi-Core CPU Market Set for Rapid Growth

Sun Announces OpenSPARC Market Initiatives

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Market Report - Sun Compatible OEMs
in the SPARC Product Directory

T
his article reviews the history of Sun's relationships with Sun compatible hardware OEMs and chronicles the 3 great culls of SPARC compatible OEMs.

The article also analyzes emerging new trends and strategic growth markets for Sun partners in 2005. ...read the article
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article:-  Virtual Tape: Can You Afford to Ignore It?
Virtual Tape: Can You Afford to Ignore It? - article by MaXXan Systems

Network 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 approaches.

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, ...MaXXan profile, Disk to disk backup
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click to read article click to read article

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.

SAS 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, ...Maxtor profile, Serial Attached SCSI

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SPARC history
SPARC History
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Squeak! - the Solid State Disks Buyers Guide
This is the 4th annual edition of this very popular report (published September 2006).

The earlier edition of this article was the #1 most popular storage article viewed by STORAGEsearch.com's readers in the previous quarter.
the solid state disks buyers guide
The 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. ...read the article, solid state disks
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