In the Wintel world whenever Intel is a bit slow in bringing out a
new faster processor, manufacturers of PCs and servers don't worry, because they
know that arch rival AMD is waiting in the wings and will soon come up with such
a solution. That competitive pressure keeps the performance curve leaning into
the wind. The same used to be true in the world of SPARC processors, back in the
early 90's when the data bus was still operating at 32 bits.
called Weitek produced a clock doubling SPARC processor which was a user
installable upgrade for single processor workstations like the SPARCstation 2.
At about the same time another company, Ross Technology brought out its
hyperSPARC chips for multi-processor systems like the SPARCstation 10 and 20.
The hyperSPARCs were typically 30% to 40% faster than Sun's own SuperSPARC chips
at that time. Both products achieved significant market share (upto about 20% of
compatible systems). Both products attacked Sun at its core, and this was good
for users because they got faster products quicker and cheaper. The change to 64
bits gave Sun an advantage over wouldbe chip rivals, because Sun controlled the
operating system. Fujitsu owned HAL Computer launched the first 64 bit SPARC
workstation in 1995, but within weeks Sun did the same, and little more was
heard of HAL until the company was closed down some years later.
recent acquisition of Afara Websystems deals a death blow to the prospect of a
rank outsider coming in with acceleration options anytime soon for owners of
legacy Sun servers. Fujitsu still makes its own SPARC chips, but 1995 was the
last time that a Fujitsu designed SPARC chip ran faster than one from Sun, so
it's unlikely that the Sun marketers in Mountain View are trembling in
anticipation of what comes next. (Unlike Intel when it comes to new product
announcements by AMD.) The Sun marketers already know that the next fastest
SPARC chip will be one designed by Sun. And when they're good and ready, they'll
let you buy it.
In the meantime if you're a Sun user and would really
like that 30% speed up now, without having to change a single line of SPARC
applications software, take a look at
Solid state disks. There's
always a solution if you look hard enough.
However, Microsoft's recent
announcement of the Internet Blueprint for the Microsoft Systems Architecture
(see below) looks like it's intended to cut off Sun's oxygen supply. Cleverly
though, this aggressive move into the Dot-in-dot-com's native territory is
unlikely to fall foul of anti-trust lawyers because it's being described as a "partnership"
designed architecture, which includes Dell, EMC and other leading companies. My
guess is that Sun's lawyers will be looking at this just as closely as Sun's
Acquisition May Help Put the Sparkle Back into Sun's SPARC Processors
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.
Internet Blueprint for the Microsoft Systems
REDMOND, Wash. - July 31, 2002 - Avanade Inc.,
Brocade, Dell, EMC , Emulex , Nortel Networks, and Unisys announced today the
Internet Blueprint for the Microsoft Systems Architecture and the
Internet Blueprint Plus for the Microsoft Systems Architecture. These are the
first in a series of Microsoft Systems Architecture Qualified partner-led
Prescriptive Architecture Guides (PAGs) by industry leaders designed to provide
tested guidance to support enterprise customers looking to simplify core
infrastructure implementations and reduce the time and cost associated with
deployment of data center solutions built on the Windows 2000 Server platform.
This solution is designed to deliver faster time to service with lower
operational expense and better utilization of resources meeting the needs of
customers looking for common operating environments, server and/or storage
consolidation and migration to the latest technologies.
Today Microsoft Corp. also announced the Microsoft Systems
Architecture program, developed with the goal of architecting, validating, and
documenting a set of IT infrastructure architectures that simplify deployment
and management of storage to support Microsoft software-based applications.
Industry leaders Avanade, Brocade, Dell, EMC, Emulex, Nortel Networks, and
Unisys worked together to design, develop, and qualify these prescriptive
blueprints in the EMC lab in Redmond, Wash. These Microsoft-qualified
architectures are designed to deliver a complete, Web-enabled, IT
infrastructure, including servers, storage, storage networking infrastructure,
software, and other tools and scripts to support an extensive array of
e-business applications with a high degree of availability, reliability,
scalability, and manageability.
To address the unique needs of Internet data centers running
enterprise applications, the Internet Blueprints help provide enterprises the
high availability and data security they need to meet service level agreements
and run 24x7x365 operations. These configurations are designed to offer maximum
information protection and scalability. The Internet Blueprint for Microsoft
Systems Architecture is built to feature Dell PowerEdge servers and EMC CLARiiON®
Enterprise Storage systems. The Internet Blueprint Plus for Microsoft Systems
Architecture features Unisys ES7000 and EMC's Symmetrix® Enterprise Storage
systems for highest levels of scalability and availability.
"Microsoft, together with strategic industry partners, is focused
on delivering integrated systems architecture that has been implemented, tested
and proven to lower implementation risks, improve ROI and reduce time to market,"
said Cliff Reeves, vice president for the Windows .NET Product Management Group
at Microsoft. "We are pleased to support these industry leaders in creating
the first partner-led prescriptive guide to support the next generation of
Internet-based business solutions."
Don Swatik, Vice President of Global Alliances and Information
Sciences at EMC said, "EMC has worked extensively with Microsoft and our
partners to test and integrate EMC's information storage systems and software
into these architectures. We provide our customers with reliable, cost effective
alternatives to their mainframe and UNIX platforms. This close cooperation is
fundamental in further establishing Windows computing infrastructures in