Sun's boutique chip architecture, the aging SPARC family. But the company announced that Sparc lives, at least for now. The company's 16-core, 128-thread "Rainbow Falls" part, which made its formal debut at Hot Chips last year, will actually see the light of day in a shipping product. Now christened the Sparc T3, the new processor will power a collection of Solaris-based T-series servers for Oracle, and will ship in 30 days.
The servers range in size from blades up to multisocket monsters, and one of the new products is aimed at virtualization. Of course, with 128 simultaneous threads of execution available per chip, virtualization is the only way to actually use a processor like the Sparc T3 for normal workloads.
Oracle had previously laid out a five-year Sparc roadmap, and CEO Larry Ellison claims that the company is quite serious about continuing to produce Sun hardware. So today's announcement does tend to lend support to the idea that Sparc isn't about to get the axe. But you could also see the announcement as Oracle's decision not to waste the enormous amount of effort that went into developing the T3—if it's that close to market, and it's ready to roll, why not put it out?
It is within the realm of possibility that T3 is a really great hardware platform for Oracle, and will give the company an edge. But given the economics of chip development, it's very hard to believe that this niche product is so much better than commodity hardware that it will continue to make sense for Oracle to pour money into.
Source: ars technica