Friday, May 30, 2008

SPARC-based systems

Starting with the Sun-4 line, the company used its own processor architecture, SPARC. A 64-bit extension of the SPARC architecture (SPARC V9) was later introduced.
Sun has implemented multiple high-end generations of the SPARC architecture, including SPARC, SuperSPARC, UltraSPARC I, UltraSPARC II, UltraSPARC III, UltraSPARC IV and currently UltraSPARC IV+ & UltraSPARC T1/UltraSPARC T2. Sun has developed several generations of workstations and servers, including the SPARCstation series, Sun Ultra series, Sun Fire and Sun Enterprise (originally Ultra Enterprise) servers and the Sun Blade workstations. There is also a line of lower cost processors meant for low-end systems which include the microSPARC I, microSPARC II, UltraSPARC IIe, UltraSPARC IIi, and UltraSPARC IIIi.
In the mid 1990s the company started to transform itself into a vendor of large-scale Symmetric multiprocessing servers. Sun manufactured and marketed the 8-processor SPARCserver 1000 and 20-processor SPARCcenter 2000, which were based on work done in conjunction with Xerox PARC. In the late 1990s this transition was accelerated by the acquisition of Cray Business Systems Division from Silicon Graphics.[24] Cray's 32-bit CS6400 "Superserver", related to the SPARCcenter, was superseded by a 64-bit joint design by Cray and Sun which became the very successful Sun Enterprise 10000 large-scale server. Driven by the increased prominence of web-serving database-searching applications, blade servers (high density rack-mounted systems) were also emphasized.
The UltraSPARC T1 and T2 are notable for their multicore design, implementing eight cores, with four and eight threads per core respectively. This can drive more efficient use of CPU resources, which is of particular importance in data centers, where there is an increasing need to reduce power and air conditioning demands, much of which comes from the heat generated by CPUs. In December 2005, Sun announced the OpenSPARC T1, an open source hardware design of UltraSPARC T1.
In April 2007, Sun released the SPARC Enterprise server products, jointly designed by Sun and Fujitsu. The M-class SPARC Enterprise systems include high-end reliability and availability features.
The SPARC processors designed by Sun are manufactured by Texas Instruments.
List of SPARC-based systems or series: Sun-4, SPARCstation, Sun Ultra series, Sun Fire, Sun Netra, Sun Enterprise and SPARC Enterprise.

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