Sun, Fujitsu to Merge SPARC Development Efforts

Sun and Fujitsu on Tuesday said the companies will jointly develop and market an 'Advanced Product Line' of SPARC/Solaris systems, expected to hit the market by the middle of 2006.

Sun Microsystems Inc. and Fujitsu Ltd. will jointly develop and market a line of SPARC/Solaris systems that will hit the market by the middle of 2006.

The new product line—called Advanced Product Line, or APL—will eventually replace Suns Sun Fire products and Fujitsus SPARC-based PrimePower systems, Sun Chairman and CEO Scott McNealy said Tuesday, speaking at a news conference in Menlo Park, Calif., as part of Suns quarterly product rollout.

McNealy said the two companies will combine research-and-development dollars as well as run joint sales and support teams.

"It just stands to reason that Sun and Fujitsu standing against IBM and a checked-out [Hewlett-Packard Co.] offers a pretty interesting alternative to the customer," he said.

/zimages/6/28571.gifRead more here about Suns Solaris 10 file system.

During the year-plus leading up to the release of the APL products, the two companies will make their respective SPARC/Solaris product lines available through each others sales organizations.

The goal is to take advantage of the R&D, marketing and distribution of each company to push the SPARC/Solaris architecture deeper into the enterprise—including into the mainframe realm—and broaden the market for the platform, McNealy said. The APL line will include systems running from one to 128 processors, he added.

The APL development will focus on both systems and processors, McNealy said. Fujitsu, based in Tokyo, will lead the development of the chip, and both companies will manufacture the chip and the systems, he said. It will run Solaris, the Java Enterprise System Web services stack and most enterprise applications, according to Sun.

The deal also will free up Sun R&D money to focus on the development of the Rock and Niagara processors, both multi-threaded chips expected to roll out by 2006.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more about Suns Niagra processor.

The expansion of the Sun-Fujitsu partnership has been speculated about since last October. Analysts and others said such a partnership would make sense, given Suns tight financial situation and its determination to continue development of the 64-bit SPARC/Solaris architecture.

Fujitsus PrimePower systems run on the companys SPARC64 processors, which like Suns UltraSPARC chips is based on SPARC V9 Instruction Set Architectures. Sun officials said Tuesday that the roadmaps for both Sun, of Santa Clara, Calif., and Fujitsu were similar, and that combining the two product lines made sense.

Fujitsu also offers its Primergy line, based on Intel Corp. chips.

"This is all about choice," McNealy said. "Increased choice, broader choice."

The move also will position the SPARC/Solaris architecture more competitively against IBM and HP, he said. IBM, of Armonk, N.Y., offers its Power architecture in the Unix space, and HP, of Palo Alto, Calif., is in the process of shutting down its PA-RISC line in favor of Intels 64-bit Itanium line.

The expanded partnership also continues Suns server line makeover. Earlier this year, Sun began the rollout of its line of systems based on Advanced Micro Devices Inc.s Opteron chips, which run 32-bit and 64-bit x86 applications. The two-way Sun Fire V20z will be followed later this year by a four-way system and possibly blade servers.

At the same time, Sun—which in February rolled out the latest generation SPARC chip, the UltraSPARC IV—in April stopped development on UltraSPARC V and another chip code-named Gemini, deciding instead to put its focus and money on Rock and Niagara, both key components of the companys throughput computing strategy.

The Niagara chip—which Sun already has taped out—will run at least 32 threads of instruction and will be targeted at such products as blade servers and networking equipment.

Rock will run both single- and multi-threaded applications, and is expected to follow Niagara.

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