the SSD Buyers Guide - click to see article
SSD buyers guide
the fastest SSDs - click to read article
the fastest SSDs
SPARC Product Directory - since 1992
from the makers of
sparc product directory

SPARC History - Q2 2008

the Fastest SSDs
Where have all the Sun User Groups Gone?
the Last Market Report on Sun Compatible OEMs?
the Rise and Fall of the SPARC Workstation Market
Astute Networks Provides ATCA Storage for SPARC Blades
San Diego, CA - June 12, 2008 - Astute Networks, Inc today announced the availability of a bladed storage solution for the Sun compatible ATCA market.

Sun Microsystems and Astute Networks will be demonstrating a scalable ATCA platform at the NXTcomm 2008 show in Las Vegas (June 16 - 19). The demonstration is based on Sun's MySQL Cluster database, and is implemented utilizing Sun's Netra CT900 ATCA bladed server chassis, the Astute Networks' Caspian R1100 Edge Storage Blade, and the Sun Netra CP3260 UltraSPARC T2 blade server. ...Astute Networks profile, Storage Events

Sun Microsystems Announces SSD Product Plans

SANTA CLARA, CA - June 4, 2008 - Sun Microsystems today announced it will ship flash SSD products in its Solaris servers in the 2nd half of the year.

"Flash SSD is the most exciting innovation to happen to system and storage design in over a decade. By mid-2009, it will be in the majority of servers and deliver more capacity than DRAM and far greater overall system performance and energy efficiency," said John Fowler, executive VP, of Sun's Systems Group. "This technology will completely change how server and storage infrastructure is designed and deployed in enterprise data centers." ...Sun Microsystems profile

Editor's comments:-
No surprises here. Sun has unique opportunities for exploiting SSDs as I explained in my article Why Sun Should Acquire an SSD Company. That was published 4 years ago here in the SPARC Product Directory.

Looking ahead - see the new article - Predicting Future Flash SSD Performance - which is the technology roadmap for this industry.

Themis Brings SPARC T2 CMT to IBM BladeCenters

California - June 2, 2008 - Sun Microsystems, Inc. and Themis Computer today announced that Themis will make and sell blade servers based on Sun's UltraSPARC T2 CMT processor running the Solaris 10 OS.

The T2BC Blade Server fits in an IBM BladeCenter and includes 1 T2 SPARC CMT processor, upto 32GB RAM and a 500GB hard disk. Fibre Channel and InfiniBand support will be available via optional daughtercards

The T2BC Blade Server is available from Themis now, and will start shipping broadly in August. Pricing starts at $15,000.

"Our T2BC blade server is Themis' first product using the UltraSPARC T2 processor and continues the long partnership we have had with Sun," said Bill Kehret, president and CEO of Themis. "Our customers are always looking for more performance and lower power, and the UltraSPARC T2 processor's innovative chip multithreading architecture provides both. As with our other highly successful SPARC-based computing products, our T2BC blades are designed to operate seamlessly within a Sun network," ...Themis Computer profile

Pillar Beats NAS Bastions for Credit Card Storage

San Jose, Calif - May 13, 2008 - finance company Preferred Credit has selected Pillar Data Systems' Axiom 300 storage for its production environment in preference to competing solutions from Network Appliance and EqualLogic.

Pillar says this was based on ease of use, flexibility, lower TCO, and the Axiom's ability to prioritize LUNs - a feature Pillar calls Application-Aware Storage. ...Pillar Data Systems profile

PLX Technology's PCIe Switches Used on Sun's SPARC Motherboards

SUNNYVALE, Calif - May 5, 2008 - PLX Technology, Inc. today announced that multiple PLX PEX 8548 PCIe switches for high-performance PCIe fanout and slot expansion have been designed to support the Sun SPARC Enterprise T5140 and T5240 servers.

The PEX 8548 is a highly flexible 48-lane PCIe switch. 2 PLX ExpressLane PEX 8548 PCIe switches each interface to a Sun UltraSPARC T2 Plus processor through a x8 PCIe link integrated directly into processor silicon, which provides fanout to onboard devices and up to 6 x8 PCIe slots for I/O expansion.

Unique key attributes include a remarkable low latency of 110ns, an energy-saving low power requirement of only 4.9W (typical), flexible port configurations (x1, x2, x4, x8, x16), true peer-to-peer communication, and native Hot-Plug ports ensuring RAS (Reliability, Availability, Serviceability).

"As the market leader in advanced PCIe interconnect solutions, PLX has delivered the high-performance PCI Express technology requirements of key customers like Sun," said David Raun, VP of marketing and business development at PLX Technology. "Sun demands very high-speed connectivity and quality of service, and we are pleased that they find PLX products are exceeding all expectations."

Editor's comments:- PCIe provides a low cost way to many high performance upgrade options such as PCIe SSDs.

Sun Buys x86 Chip Company

Editor:- April 24, 2008 - an article in the Register says that Sun Micro has acquired the assets of a portable chip company called Montalvo Systems.

Montalvo, which burned its way through $100 million funding, was working on x86 multi-core designs for notebooks. The Register article speculates that Sun's interest relates to the IP of asymmetric processor cores - which could be useful in special purpose SPARC chips.

SPARC T2 Gets Carrier Grade Linux

SAN JOSE, CA - April 16, 2008 - Wind River Systems, Inc. today announced it will port its Carrier Grade Linux and Workbench development suite to Sun's UltraSPARC T2 processor.

This will be the first carrier grade Linux for Sun's CMT processors. Sun's Netra Carrier Grade rack servers and ATCA blades will be the first CMT systems to run Wind River Carrier Grade Linux. ...Wind River profile, Operating Systems for SPARC servers

Editor's comments:-
in SPARC's 20 year history Linux software hasn't had much close contact with SPARC hardware - and mainly featured as a competitor.

Despite that, I was surprised to see that the word "Linux" appears on 24% of pages in the SPARC Product Directory.

That's more than I thought but probably 4x less often than in other "Unix" publications.

In August 2003 (which was not a very optimistic time for the SPARC market) I wrote an article - What's the Trigger Event that will Turn Around Sun's Revenue Decline? - in which I explored all the technology and business options that could make a significant difference to how the market viewed and reacted to Sun's SPARC products.

The analysis in that article is just as relevant now and still makes good reading. And I haven't changed a single word in this conclusion from that 5 years old article.

"The future availability of a strong SPARC/Linux product family will be beneficial to Solaris users - there will be a bigger market for processors, and so faster SPARC processors will come out sooner and at lower cost. It will cut down the arguments for users to migrate away from SPARC. It will also offer a credible platform for Sun to attack HP and IBM. It will be good for Sun, good for current and future SPARC users, and good for competition in the computer market."

3 years after that article was published HP wrote an (anti-Sun) article - The Real Story about Linux on Sun's SPARC - with some amusing and interesting points about what they referred to as Sun's "on again, off again" approach to Linux. That, and the stats quoted by HP may all be true, but I think the new combination of SPARC T2 with Linux is going to reduce the bonuses paid to many HP server sales people in the next year or so.

Sun Doubles SPARC Server Density (Again)

SANTA CLARA, Calif - April 9, 2008 - Sun Microsystems, Inc. and Fujitsu Limited today introduced the first dual-socket UltraSPARC T2 Plus based servers.

The SPARC Enterprise T5140 and T5240 servers feature up to 128 compute threads in 1U or 2U and deliver up to 16x higher compute density than competitive dual socket x86 systems.

Meeting the threat of Solaris Migration offerings from competing vendors Sun has also addressed the issue of customers with legacy applications running older versions of Solaris who want to take advantage of lower cost / faster hardware. Sun announced 2 new offerings which provide virtualization services to run Solaris 8 and Solaris 9 applications and help enable the simple transfer of applications to the latest CMT systems running the Solaris 10 OS.

With these new products, Solaris 8 and 9 Containers for the Solaris 10 OS, multiple Solaris 8 or Solaris 9 environments, or a combination of the two, can be hosted on a single SPARC-based system. As a result, customers can streamline IT operations, maximize datacenter space, and save on power, cooling and support costs.

The move to the latest hardware is now de-coupled from the need to move directly to the Solaris 10 OS.

Themis Founder, Bill Kehret, Joins VITA's Board

FREMONT, California - April 3, 2008 - Themis Computer announced today that the company has joined the VITA organization's board of directors.

William E. Kehret, president and CEO of Themis Computer was appointed to the VITA board of directors effective March 1, 2008. William "Bill" Kehret will fill a position in VITA's expanded board membership. The appointment of Bill Kehret reflects the organization's desire to strengthen its executive ranks and Bill's vision will help VITA to continue its leadership role in the embedded computing market.

As founder and CEO of Themis Computer, Bill Kehret brings a strong technological background to the VITA board. Bill Kehret is also a member of Themis' board of directors. Prior to founding Themis in 1989, he spent over 20 years in the embedded computing market, most of it managing the several companies he helped found. ...Themis Computer profile, Storage Industry Trade Associations, Storage People

Editor's comments:-
as someone who integrated over 100 different types of VME cards in the late 1980s I never thought that VME would last so long. I didn't think that SBus would be successful at first either. But within a few years of Sun launching its SBus in 1989 - it became a bigger market in revenue than VME.

VME always supported multiple CPU architectures and operating systems, and it evolved and has survived to the present day. SBus was never adopted outside the SPARC market and Sun transitioned SBus in 1997 in favor of PCI which first made its appearance in a SPARC system in the SPARCengine Ultra AX.

SPARC Product Directory featured VMEbus SPARC SBCs from over 10 oems in SPARC's history. These were:- Auspex Systems, DTK Computer, Force Computers, General Micro Systems, Integrated Micro Products, Ironics, Men Mikro Electronik, Solflower, Solbourne , Sun Microsystems and Themis Computer, the last of which is the only company to have stayed the VME SPARC SBC course.

SSDs are as hot a subject today as SPARC was in the blazing years of the dotcom boom. 7 companies make VMEbus form factor SSDs. I added a new entry for another VME SSD in our SSD Buyers Guide only a few days ago.

On the subject of SSDs and things that have been around a long time - Texas Memory Systems celebrated 30 years making SSDs this week.

the Top 10 SSD OEMs in Q1 2008

Editor:- April 2, 2008 - today published the 4th edition of - "the Top 10 Solid State Disk OEMs."

Covering the quarter ending March 31, 2008 - the article also looks at market milestones and comments on changes since the earlier quarters.

Inevitably - over 60 SSD oems couldn't make it into the top 10 SSD list (and that includes enterprise rackmount SSD wannabe EMC which lay just outside at #11.)

If you're choosing SSD suppliers or strategic partners - this is the must-see predictive list of the top companies that matter - based on hundreds of thousands of readers searching for SSD content on the site rated most highly by SSD companies themselves. the article
Astute Networks Provides ATCA Storage for Sun Blades

Sun Microsystems Announces SSD Product Plans

Themis Brings SPARC T2 CMT to IBM BladeCenters

Pillar Beats NAS Bastions for Credit Card Storage

PLX's PCIe Switches Used on Sun's SPARC Motherboards

Sun Buys x86 Chip Company

SPARC T2 Gets Carrier Grade Linux

Sun Doubles SPARC Server Density (Again)

Themis Founder, Bill Kehret, Joins VITA's Board

earlier news - archive
RAM based SSDs
RAM based solid state disks
Megabyte rammed through all barriers
to get there faster.
Are MLC SSDs Safe in Enterprise Apps?
This is a follow up article to the popular SSD Myths and Legends which, a year earlier demolished the myth that flash memory wear-out (a comfort blanket beloved by many RAM SSD makers) precluded the use of flash in heavy duty datacenters.

This new article looks at the risks posed by MLC Nand Flash SSDs which have recently hatched from their breeeding ground as chip modules in cellphones and morphed into hard disk form factors.
which technology to choose? - read the article It starts down a familiar lane but an unexpected technology twist takes you to a startling new world of possibilities. the article
Z's Laws - Predicting Future Flash SSD Performance
A a reader asked me a very good question.

"Is there an industry roadmap for future flash SSD performance?"

That prompted other questions like...
  • How fast are flash SSDs going to be in 2009?, 2010? or 2012?
  • What are the technology factors which relate to flash SSD throughput and IOPS?
  • How close will flash SSDs get to RAM SSD performance?
There wasn't a simple answer I could give at the time. Clues lay scattered all across this web site and in my many one on one discussions with readers about the market...
But I agreed there should be a single place on the web where these answers could be found.

Forget Moore's Law. That gives you the wrong answer, and this article explains why. the article
SPARC History (from 1987 till last month) STORAGEsearch SPARC Product Directory ACSL - the publisher

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.