|SPARC Product Directory's
editor Zsolt Kerekes interviews SPARC International's CEO - Karen Anaya|
(Zsolt) - Looking at the published materials, the way that Sun is promoting
its recently launched OpenSPARC partner scheme doesn't seem to acknowledge that
it has gone down this route before in the early 1990s. At that time SPARC
International (SI) played a very active part in recruiting evangelists and oems
for SPARC technology. A lot of things have changes since then (like the web).
Can you tell our readers how does SI fit into the thinking for
OpenSPARC? - How do you see your main role?
A (Karen) - SI's role remains unchanged...except that this new
OpenSPARC project may end up driving more volume for SI if commercial uses for
OpenSPARC develop out of it. So far a lot of interest from academia, several
start-ups and even one large, well-known company evaluating it has come in
through Sun's OpenSPARC Beta program..
Sun continues to value having
SI as an independent organization to handle SPARC branding, compliance tests,
etc. As always Sun comes to SI to purchase test suites and license SPARC
trademarks the same as Fujitsu, Themis, Tadpole, Motorola (formerly Force
Computers), CCPU, etc. Companies embedding SPARC chips Warrant their company
products for $500.00 per each form of chip through SI.
Q (Zsolt) - Re Sun's public statements about an open source
license for the UltraSPARC T1 - and assuming that it's successful and oems take
it up. I'd like to clarify what happens if a chipmaker creates a new
implementation of this standard. Will they have to license SPARC trademarks, and
if so - how much will it cost?
A (Karen) - If a company takes OpenSPARC, customizes it with
their own implementation, and turns it into a product to which they want to
affix the "SPARC" brand name. (Excuse me for telling you what you
already know but I'd like to clarify here for your readers)...
Initially, what the company has done is build their own implementation off of
Sun's OpenSPARC source code. If Sun had not open-sourced OpenSPARC, this
information (such as documentation of hyperprivileged mode) would have been held
as proprietary information and would not have been disclosed.
If a new company creates a new implementation off of this standard and
turns it into a product they wish to market, and, they want to go the next step
and call it "SPARC" then they contact SI.
Q (Zsolt) - Also please clarify the licensing implications
for a product or systems maker who might want to use the new chips. Do they need
to pay a license or fee to market their product as a "SPARC product".
If so - how much will it cost?
A (Karen) - In order to license a SPARC trademark membership
in SI is required together with a fully executed Compliance Testing Agreement,
and successful compliance testing according to the SPARC Compliance Definition
Annual Membership fees are:
The test suite fee for SPARC Version 8
Architecture is $25K, for Version 9 Architecture it is $30K. Each upgrade
(without changing original silicon) is $6K for V8 and $8K for V9. If the silicon
is changed creating a brand new product the fee is back to the original amount
(i.e. $25K for V8, $30K for V9).
- Executive - $150K
- Associate - $20K
- OEM/VAR/IHV/ISV - $1.5K
What has changed in the source code test suites fee is the
amount of the fee. Back "in the old days" this cost SI's founding
members, i.e. (Hal) Fujistu, Sun, Tatung, Temic/Matra, Texas Instruments,
Toshiba, etc., $150K per test suite. As you know source code has always been
part of the "gold" of a company's IP. It still is today.
SI no longer had to send a testing engineer specialist and could conduct the
testing via the internet the fee was drastically reduced. SI's lab was no
longer necessary, nor technical personnel plus shipping and receiving was no
longer an expense. As you can imagine, this was a considerable reduction in
operating costs for SI because interested OEM's could use their own technicians,
As for licensing a specific SPARC trademark.
fee for one mark is $18K annually which includes registration in one country of
choice. A company is offered the choice:-
SI sends quarterly report requests and bills accordingly.
Finally a company may choose to have a "fully paid up" license
schedule for a specific SPARC mark which is $150K and $107,500 K for a
derivative mark. There has been no need to change the V8 or V9 codes for the
past few years which waived an annual test suite maintenance and support fee as
- pay annually $18K schedule, or
- a schedule of reporting sales and shipments on a quarterly basis at $1.50
per product sold/shipped if that is the more cost effective method for that
Q (Zsolt) - In the past 10 years the SPARC Product Directory
has commented that Sun reduced its promotion of the SPARC brand and instead
invested more in in its own "Sun" brands. SPD and many other analysts
have also commented that Sun's x86 server strategy is not generating enough
revenue to replace Sun's declining SPARC business.
Although Sun's new storage strategy looks like it will be much more
successful than previous iterations, and our sister publication
STORAGEsearch.com predicts that
most of Sun's revenue in the long term will be from
storage rather than
servers, we expect most of Sun's server business to come from SPARC
rather than x86. Therefore a lot of market re-education and familiarisation with
SPARC will be required.
Can you tell our readers if Sun will be increasing its spend on SPARC
branding? Also how will that effect SI and its members?
A (Karen) - Some of Sun's original SPARC trademarks, i.e.
SPARCSTATION, SPARCWORKS, SPARCCENTER for example became end of life products.
Any company experiences that change in their product line.
think Sun, or most companies publicly comment about marketing, branding, or
sales budgets. However, Sun is putting a lot of time and money in the OpenSPARC
effort. This is completely different than a couple of previous processor designs
that Sun has made available. This time, they're releasing a *current* - not
to mention highly innovative - processor design, not an old one that's
practically out of production already.
Sun (and their EDA partners)
have made lots of tools available to support OpenSPARC. They have set up a
whole web domain (OpenSPARC.net) for it, complete with news, blogs, and
discussion forums. New specs were released, which had been in process for
Also, as for Sun's continued and established trademarks,
i.e. SPARCengine, UltraSPARC, UltraSPARC Driven, etc. to name a few. Sun's marks
are registered in 160 countries for 10 years at a time, and, have renewed their
registrations worldwide. This hardly reduces Sun's SPARC spending as far as SI
is concerned regarding the maintenance and support of these marks.
I have previously mentioned how OpenSPARC may effect SI. If
commercial SPARC uses develop out of OpenSPARC it could generate new Executive
members for SI.
Times can change rapidly in the computer arena. SI was established
in 1989 and this year celebrates 17 years as a non-profit organization
completely funded by members. Explaining the infrastructure of SI is an ordinary
function gladly given.
(Zsolt) - thanks Karen, that's really
helped my understanding. Good luck with the program. SPD will report on new
products that emerge from it here in our
SPARC news page.
I feel sure that the increased investment by Sun (and third party OEMS) in SPARC
is something that most SPARC users will welcome.
Editor's notes:- I also asked Sun to comment for this article - but
received no reply.
2007 will be the 20th
anniversary of commercially available SPARC systems. SPD will look at how the
market has changed, and see how the 2nd decade of SPARC actually fared compared
to the predictions we published (from Sun and other leading SPARC evangelists) a
about the Sun / SPARC / Solaris market
articles about the $150
billion Storage market
a week after publishing this article - there was another interesting article
published about the past (and possible future fate) of SPARC International|
was Then and This is Now: SPARC International and OpenSPARC.net
more pessimistic about SI's future - but the article has a good historic
perspective of this kind of standards organization.
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|Are MLC SSDs Ever
Safe in Enterprise Apps?|
| This is a follow up
article (published in March 2008) 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.|
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
hard disk form
|| It starts down a familiar
lane but an unexpected technology twist (which arrived in my email while
writing this article) takes you to a startling new world of possibilities.
Methods for Cleaning Up Hard Disk Drives - article by Intelligent Computer
Removing the data on old unwanted disk drives has
become a concern for all users.
Pointsec found that
they were able to read 7 out of 10 hard-drives bought over the Internet
at auctions such as eBay, for less than the cost of a McDonald's meal, all of
which had "supposedly" been "wiped-clean" or "re-formatted".
This article reviews the various methods available to sanitize hard disks along
with the advantages and disadvantages in each case....read the article,
Attached SCSI: New Interface, New Storage Rack? - article by Terabytes Server
Storage Tech |
Users will need more than just host bus
disk drives to deploy
Serial Attached SCSI
technology. But the traditional way of designing the backplanes in storage
racks could lead to high cost and not use the expansion and high availability
aspects of SAS to best advantage. In this article one of the world's leading
suppliers of computer chassis describes their award winning new backplane
concept which gets the best out of the new SAS technology while reducing costs.
. ...read the article,
Why are Most Analysts Wrong About Solid State Disks?|
analysts and editors of other computer publications don't really understand the
solid state disk market. They show their ignorance and naivete by prefacing
every discussion of SSDs with a superficial analysis which compares the cost per
byte of storage between flash and hard disk drives. That's the wrong answer to
the wrong question. And it's far removed from why the SSD market is racing to
become a multi billion dollar market seemingly in blithe ignorance of the cost
per byte proposition.
This article tells you what's important to
users and the main applications in which SSDs are already being used and new
applications where they will be used in the next 3 years. ...read the
article, Solid State Disks