Sun is planning to release its first servers based on the future high-end Rock processors by 2008. The Rock processor, along with the lower-end Niagara will employ a design called chip multithreading to let a chip run several tasks simultaneously. Rock was previously code-named 30x because it is designed to run 30x than the current 1.2GHz UltraSparc III that arrived in 2003.
"The Rock systems do not come out before 2008," said Andy Ingram, vice president of marketing for Sun's Scalable Systems Group, in a meeting with reporters and analysts here Thursday. But a partnership under which Fujitsu and Sun will jointly develop and sell Sparc servers means that Sun will be able to hasten the arrival of the overall family, he added.
Establishing a healthy future for the Sparc line of processors is vital to Sun's efforts to keep customers, software makers and other business partners from defecting to rival processor families--"x86" models such as Intel's Xeon or Advanced Micro Devices, Power models from IBM, or Itanium models from Intel and Hewlett-Packard. Those alternatives have been encroaching on Sun's turf after the dot-com bust and recession reversed the Santa Clara, Calif., company's fortunes.
IBM also is sharing its long-term schedules for its Unix servers, last week announcing that its Power7 processor is due in 2008 and the Power7+ upgrade in 2009.