| This summer the
pressure from Sun's competitors will start to mount, as long as Sun is still
saddled with its
year old vintage 900MHz processors (and low volume selected
variants). Although the processor benchmark wars have been a regular event
throughout SPARC's 15 year history, Sun's economic and technical
woes last year
caused it to slip behind its main competitors with an interim processor which
was far below the expectations predicted by Moore's law. Although Sun has
publicly stated that it continued investments into new chip designs, its
economics are vastly different here to rival Intel, which despite the recession
in the PC market, is planning around a market estimated to be as large as
another one billion PCs during the next 6 years. That allows Intel to get a
payback on interim clock speed products much earlier than Sun.
1st, HP announced that their 64-way HP Superdome server with the newly
announced PA-8700+ processor secured the world's best SPECjbb200 result
submitted to date, scoring 614,538 Java applications per second and beating a
104-way Sun Starfire 15K. But more pressure on Sun will soon be coming from HP.
June, HP (not known for its speed at writing operating system software)
announced that it would assign to Red Hat the task of sourcing a Linux for
HP servers and workstations based on the forthcoming Intel® Itanium® 2
processor. HP's claim to fame with this processor is that it co-developed with
Intel, the Itanium instruction set architecture. That was part of a deal which
involved HP dropping the ongoing development of its own PA based processors.
However, it's fair to say that HP's processor chip developments in the past have
probably scared its own accountants and shareholders more than they scared
competitors like Sun. And the face saving "co-development" with Intel
would have been more significant in technology terms, if HP had been tasked with
the mission of choosing the color of the chips new package. Nevertheless, when
the new Intel processor comes out, HP will be able to significantly outperform
Sun in the benchmark stakes.
The threat from any Microsoft operating
systems in the 64 bit server space are more muted...
November 2001, Dell and MigraTEC announced a technology and services
referral agreement that will aid Dell customers moving their mission-critical
computing operations to the 64-bit Intel® Itanium computing platform.
MigraTEC products automate many of the required tasks associated with moving
applications from 32-bit to 64-bit platforms and from Solaris® and other
Unix operating systems to Microsoft® Windows and Linux® . Although
Sun's CEO, Scott McNealy publicly claims to disregard Dell as a competitor, he
is in a minority of one in this regard. And Dell's moves have to be watched
carefully. However, since Sun cut off Dell's future access to its own X86 based
Solaris, the Texas based company will have to make do with other operating
systems to take advantage of the new 64 bit Intel platforms.
not the only threat however.
June IBM announced an entry level 4 processor server, the eServer p630,
designed to run Linux and the AIX 5L operating system that offers 84% greater
performance than Sun's 900MHz SPARC based V480. IBM plans to introduce dynamic
LPAR capability in the fourth quarter, enabling customers to divide the machine
into up to four "virtual" servers. These systems, which can be as
small as a single processor, can dynamically change in size to accommodate
The IBM eServer p630 is the fastest four-way Web
secure server, according to the rigorous SPECweb99_SSL benchmark. The
SPECweb99_SSL measures a server's ability to support a given number of secure
Web users while maintaining certain performance requirements. The p630 supported
1,050 simultaneous connections, far outpacing the 568 simultaneous connections
achieved by the four-way Sun V480.
Where Does this Leave Sun?
sales people will have to take a certain amount of flack from competitive
benchmarks which will show up Sun's weaknesses in an unfavorable light. In the
short term they can counter with the rejoinder that the competitor's products
are "new" and "unproven" whereas Sun's boxes have been
shipping in volume for some time. By the fall however, Sun will only retain
credibility by announcing one or both of the following.
- Sun's own Linux boxes for the Itanium processor,
either homegrown, or more likely, using code licensed from other Linux sources.
following the cache memory problems which Sun experienced in 2001, the speed of
market take up for any new faster SPARC servers may depend as much on smooth
talking as well as cool technology
- A faster SPARC processor, probably running at
1.5GHz, as an immediate upgrade thoughout the current server line. New servers
using these chips will almost certainly offer
solid state disks as a
preconfigured Sun orderable acceleration option, which will boost system
performance by about 30% over the clock speed.
Sun Acquisition May Help Put the Sparkle Back into Sun's SPARC
July 23, 2002 in a press release today from
Microsystems, the company announced that it has acquired Afara Websystems,
Inc., a company that develops next-generation, SPARC®-based microprocessor
technology focused on delivering breakthrough levels of processor performance.
Sun's own processor products are one to two years behind the
performance curve which Sun led users and partners to expect from its SPARC
processors. That's one of the factors which has led to the company's poor
financial performance during the last year. Without providing the high
performance which Sun users came to expect during the 1990's, Sun would be well
on its way to becoming a $10 billion or smaller company, compared to its peak of
Afara is a small design company which has been working on
high performance SPARC processor designs. According to an article in
one of Afara's co-founders is Les Kohn, who worked on Intel's highly successful
embedded RISC processor, the i860 and i960 and also on Sun's own UltraSPARC-I.
|this way to the Petabyte
|In 2016 there will be
just 3 types of
SSD in the datacenter.|
of them doesn't exist yet - the bulk storage SSD.
It will replace the
last remaining strongholds of
hard drives in the
datacenter due to its unique combination of characteristics, low running costs
and operational advantages.
||The new model of the
datacenter - how we get from here to there - and the technical problems which
will need to be solved - are just some of the ideas explored in this