Advisory Board Created for OpenSPARC

The five-member group will set policies and regulations for the community created around Sun Microsystems' open hardware initiative.

Sun Microsystems OpenSPARC initiative is getting a boost with the creation of an independent governance board and a second Linux distribution supporting the program.

The new advisory board, announced Oct. 2, will help the OpenSPARC community set the rules, policies and expectations of the community and help elect the initial members to what will eventually be the permanent governance board, said Fadi Azhari, director of marketing and business development for the OpenSPARC project.

"For a community to run itself in an independent and open way, you need a board independent of Sun," Azhari said.

Members of the new board include Insight64 analyst Nathan Brookwood, Professor Jose Renau of the University of California, Santa Cruz, and Robert Ober, a fellow in the chief technology officers office of LSI Logic.

In addition, the board includes two Sun employees: Senior Staff Engineer David Weaver and Simon Phipps, chief open source officer.

The group will serve for a year before the permanent board takes over.

Sun, of Santa Clara, Calif., introduced the OpenSPARC program in February, a move to expand the reach of its multicore UltraSPARC T1 processor.

The chip, formerly code-named "Niagara," offers up to eight cores, each of which can run four instruction threads.

/zimages/1/28571.gifClick here to read more about Sun open-sourcing its UltraSPARC.

The company initially released the architecture specifications and hypervisor APIs for the chip. In March, Sun published the hardware design and the Solaris operating system simulation specifications for the chip.

The goal is to enable hardware and software developers to build atop the chips architecture and build an ecosystem around the processor.

There have been more than 3,500 OpenSPARC T1 hardware downloads and 2,600 software downloads since March, according to Sun.

Ubuntu Linux in May announced it was supporting OpenSPARC in its GNU/Linux operating system, which has led to more than 3,000 downloads of the OS onto OpenSPARC. In addition, there are at least 800 sites running Ubuntu on SPARC, according to Sun.

Sun is hoping for similar success with the second Linux distribution supporting the initiative, Gentoo Linux, developed by the Gentoo Foundation.

The distribution is now supporting the UltraSPARC T1 on the Sun Fire T1000 and T2000 servers.

In addition, another company, Simply RISC, which includes former STMicroelectronics engineers, has published the first derivative chip design based on OpenSPARC, a 64-bit single-core technology aimed at the embedded market for such devices as PDAs and digital cameras.

The OpenSPARC initiative is part of a greater push by Sun to open-source much of its technology.

It already has open-sourced its Solaris operating system.

It also is similar to IBMs move to open up its Power architecture.

In July, IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., announced that the community group is taking a larger role in the direction of the platform.

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