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Sun sets server roadmap

Jul 27, 20042 mins
Data Center

* Sun lays out plans for servers

Sun outlined its processor roadmap recently in a teleconference with journalists.

By 2008, Sun expects to release Sparc-based servers that use its Rock processor. Rock (previously codenamed “30x”) will be used in high-end, data-intensive systems, while a less-powerful Niagara processor will be introduced for lower-end, network-intensive Sparc servers. Rock will use chip multithreading, so several tasks can run concurrently. Rock was codenamed 30x because it is expected to run 30 times as fast as Sun’s UltraSparc III processor, which ran at 1.2 GHz in 2003.

Sun is announcing that Rock and Niagara will arrive sooner than expected because of a partnership Sun has formed with Fujitsu.

The company isn’t expected to drop its low-end Opteron processor-based servers in favor of Sparc, and in fact is expected to announce new Opteron servers this week.

After Sun abandoned work on the UltraSparc V and Gemini processors, it was able to focus attention on Rock and Niagara. This shift to the next-generation Rock processor makes a lot of sense, since Sun can concentrate its engineering efforts on it.

Rock will use a 65-nanometer process, which lets Sun manufacture more powerful and complex systems. Both Sun and Fujitsu will market server lines based on Niagara and a new line, codenamed Olympus. The partnership should produce the 64-bit Advanced Product Line (APL) in 2006 and result in midrange servers that use the Sparc64 VI from Fujitsu and low-end servers that use Niagara. APL-based servers will run Solaris 10.

At the moment, Sun and Fujitsu aren’t collaborating over Rock, Solaris x86 or Opteron, but could possibly in the future.

Sun is also working on a software distribution deal with Fujitsu in which products such as Java Enterprise Server would be sold by Fujitsu. Solaris x86 could be part of that deal.