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Sun, SPARC, Solaris news - September 2007


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Itanium-based Server Market Growing Faster than SPARC

INTEL DEVELOPER FORUM, San Francisco - September 18, 2007 - Today, the Itanium Solutions Alliance announced strong momentum in several areas, which mirrored Itanium 2-based solutions growth worldwide.

Alliance membership doubled in 1 year with more than 200 participants now part of the effort to promote open, industry standard solutions based on Intel Itanium architecture.

As the Alliance enters its 3rd year of operation, Itanium-based solutions continue to show growth in areas such as application support, volume and market share.

Intel Itanium architecture has a robust ecosystem supporting more than 12,000 applications from thousands of ISVs, reinforcing that it is a widely used platform.

The number of Itanium-based systems sold has increased 40% worldwide with Western Europe leading the regions at 90% growth; Asia-Pacific Itanium-based systems volume grew 55% and the Americas, 24%.

Itanium-based systems sales are growing faster than SPARC and Power systems. Worldwide, Itanium-based systems revenue is currently 58.6% of SPARC revenue. This is more than a 30% increase compared to the same period in 2006.

Editor's comments:- I was once dismissive about the prospects for the Itanium server market. But the numbers above suggest I was wrong. It shows that if you pour billions of dollars into a big hole - then something may eventually come out. This was really more about Intel versus AMD than Intel versus Sun. Intel just couldn't afford to give up its claims to the high-end processor market. But the cost has been horrific.


Sun's Changing Profile?

Editor:- September 18, 2007 - a new picture of Sun Microsystems is starting to come into focus.

Here are some recent pixels which suggest the way things are going...

Storage Market

Once again Sun is failing in the storage market. First clear sign appeared in Sun's earnings conference call in July 2007 when Sun revealed that its storage revenue in the most recent quarter was down 10% compared to the year ago period. Maybe that was a blip - but I didn't think so. And in September 2007 Gartner reported that in the most recent quarter Sun's external disk revenue declined 36%. All of which proves that I was wrong in assuming that Sun's StorageTek acquisition in August 2005 might help Sun become a storage powerhouse. It didn't. And Sun not only has less market share in storage than it had back then - but it isn't even engaged in many of the fastest growing segments within the storage market.

Intel Architecture Servers

Surprisingly (and after many years of getting nowhere in this market) Sun revealed in Jonathan Schwartz's blog (September 16, 2007) that it is has built a billion dollar annual runrate business in the X86-X64 market. That was a factor in its recently announced compatibility and oem agreements with Microsoft. Sun has been losing out by not being able to supply a complete platform when customers wanted Sun's rackmount servers - but running Windows applications. The new deal with Microsoft means that Sun will get a bigger toehold into previously unexplored customer territory.

What About SPARC?

Sun's SPARC servers generate about $5 billion / year of revenue - which means SPARC is still the biggest and strategically most important part of Sun's whole business.

Although competitors have made much of how well legacy SPARC / Solaris applications have run on x86 hardware using Solaris Migration products - Sun's biggest customers (telcos) are unlikely to switch their high volume applications away from SPARC as long as Sun holds out the realistic promise of maintaining its lead in the number of core processors it can fit into a motherboard.

Every time you read about internet tv and similar entertainment content for cellphones being rolled out around the globe in larger and larger deployments you're seeing the start of a trend which will soak up orders of magnitude more server capacity than is installed today. And there's no new floor space to put it in most of the datacenters where the fat data pipes are. All of that is good news for SPARC's future prospects.


LEON3 Processor Licensed for New Space Missions

Goteborg Sweden - September 12, 2007 - Gaisler Research AB announced that license agreements have been signed for the use of the fault tolerant LEON3 processor with Assurance Technology Corp (US), Syderal SA (Switzerland) and Tubitak Uzay (Turkey).

The LEON3 and the GRLIB IP library will be used together with the RTAX2000S FPGA from ACTEL Inc.

"These license agreements represent yet another confirmation of the success of the fault tolerant LEON3 processor. The LEON3 processor has now been accepted for critical space missions in Europe, US and Asia," said Per Danielsson, president & CEO of Gaisler Research.

The fault tolerant LEON3 processor is based on the standard LEON3 SPARC V8 Processor. It has been designed for operation in the harsh space environment, and includes functionality to detect and correct errors in all on-chip RAM memories.


Why Sun will Shine with a New Lustre

SANTA CLARA, Calif - September 12, 2007 - Sun Microsystems, Inc. today said it will acquire the majority of Cluster File Systems, Inc.'s intellectual property and business assets, including the Lustre File System.

Sun intends to add support for Solaris OS on Lustre and plans to continue enhancing Lustre on Linux and Solaris OS across multi vendor hardware platforms. ...Sun Microsystems profile, Acquired storage companies

Editor's comments:-
I hadn't heard of this company before. A sure sign that they were heading straight for the gone away storage companies list without any deviations on route. Here's what I picked up from their web site present and past.

The Lustre product description (pdf) says - "the Lustre architecture was first developed at Carnegie Mellon University as a research project in 1999." The company's website started in about 2001 amd they released Lustre 1.0 in 2003. By 2004 had a product ready for a bigger market.

Strangely enough Solaris support isn't listed as a strong feature in their recent roadmap. So why does Sun want this technology? - Well - even if you're not in the supercomputer business - some technologies which start there eventually trickle down to the rest of us. "Zero single points of failure" - mentioned on their home page - is a good enough reason. As I wrote in my 7 year storage market predictions (2005) storage reliability is going to become a major headache in enterprise storage in the next 5 years.

See also:- Robin Harris's blog which explains the business background to CFS - "why aren't they rich?"
.
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Itanium-based Server Market Growing Faster than SPARC

Sun's Changing Profile?

LEON3 Processor Licensed for New Space Missions

Why Sun will Shine with a New Lustre

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