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Sun accelerates chip architecture

Unix vendor reinforces position at head of Unix market with UltraSPARC III.

It may be six months late, but Sun has delivered the third generation of its UltraSPARC processors.

Although rival vendors, such as HP and IBM have been stressing Sun’s ageing technology as they aggressively went for the high end Unix space, neither vendor has managed to gain substantial ground on Sun’s commanding position.

Speaking to ACN prior to the launch of the UltraSPRAC III, Gartner Group analyst, Andy Butler said, “as Sun’s platforms get increasingly old IBM and HP should be doing a better job of taking business off Sun than they are. They are [both] doing pretty well, but Sun continues to do extremely well.”

When initially delivered the UltraSPARC III will hit the market with a 750 MHz to 900 MHz speed chips, said John Loiacono, Sun’s chief marketing officer. Analysts had expected versions to be running at 800 MHz. The chip architecture has the capability to stretch to 1.5 GHz added Loiacono.

Sun is packing the next generation chips into its Sun Blade high-end workstation and a its Sun Fire 280R server, aimed at enterprise clients. According to John Shoemaker, executive vice president of system products for Sun, further plans for Ultrasparc III-based products, include a new workgroup server, code named Daktari; a mid-range server, code-named Serengheti; and a data-centre-class machine, code named StarCat all of which will be delivered in the next six to nine months.

All the UltraSPARC III machines are tuned for Sun latest operating system Solaris 8 that was delivered earlier in the year. However, market watchers are saying that many Sun users remain on older versions of the OS. Sun executives say that 450,000 copies of the software have already been downloaded, but it is unclear exactly how many versions of Solaris 8 are running in a live production environments.

Existing Sun hardware is not immediately upgradeable to the new chip architecture, although this is expected in the near future. Sun also claims that all existing Solaris applications will be able to run without requiring a recompile.

The addition of UltraSPARC III is another verse to Sun’s die hard SPARC/Solaris mantra that focuses singularly on the company’s own processor architecture and operating system.

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