Sun, Fujitsu Rejigger SPARC

By Mark Hachman  |  Posted 2004-04-14 Print this article Print

Relationship?"> Meanwhile, Sun is continuing to examine production and technology options for its UltraSPARC IV processor line. One possibility is that Sun may work more closely with Fujitsu Ltd.s Microelectronics business, which also designs its own 64-bit SPARC processors. Suns own UltraSPARC IV, for example, runs at speeds of 1.05GHz and 1.2GHz; faster speeds are expected next year with the UltraSPARC IV+, due when Sun shifts to its foundry partner Texas Instruments Inc.s 90-nm processor.
Quinn Jacobsen, the chief architect of the UltraSPARC IV, said in October that future enhancements to the USIV line would include dual cores, larger Level-2 and new Level-3 caches, and a faster front-side bus interface.
Click here to read more about Fujitsu and Suns fall announcements about UltraSPARC. For his part, Yen this week said the company "is not ready to talk about" a so-called UltraSPARC IV++ chip. Yen said Sun currently enjoys a "very good relationship" with Texas Instruments. But he left himself room to explore new options for foundry partnerships. "As Ive said, we have a very good relationship with TI, more than just a buyer and seller with a foundry partner. On the other hand, both companies have their own goals, and as a fabless design house were constantly monitoring the industry." Fujitsu, meanwhile, plans to ship a 1.5GHz version of its SPARC64 V chip inside of its PrimePower server line later this year, and has plans to shift to a 90nm, 2.0GHz or greater performing chip by the end of 2004. The SPARC64 VI is due late in 2005, boasting a pair of processor cores and 6MB of on-chip cache. "Anything is possible," Yen said. "Fujitsu and (Sun) have been SPARC partners for more than 10 years. There are regular discussions on regular levels. On a technical level, we have a very close relationship. If any opportunities arise where we can offer joint customers a better product line or better customer service, we will pursue them." But Sun and Fujitsu currently use incompatible packaging and bus schemes, so a replacement or an addition to the high-end UltraSPARC line with SPARC64 chips also would require a corresponding change in chipsets and motherboards, what HPs Hudson called a "box swap." In addition, Sun has adopted the AMD Opteron processor for many of its volume systems, Brookwood pointed out. Yen said there was little chance that Sun would open up its SPARC chips in much the same way IBM did with its POWER architecture. "Its more or less a bottoms-up approach," Yen said of IBMs strategy. "This type of approach tends to be incremental. I dont know how far it can go." "Sun is a smaller company than IBM," Yen said. "We really dont have to seek additional growth; theres so much we have to strengthen before we seek additional business opportunities. Its back to the basics; thats the important thing." Additional reporting by Jeff Burt of eWEEK. Check out eWEEK.coms Server and Networking Center at for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.


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