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UMC to make UltraSPARC IIe

Sun hopes to ramp up production

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Contract chipmaker United Microelectronics Corporation (UMC) is to join Texas Instruments as a manufacturer of Sun's UltraSPARC processors.

Sun has signed up UMC in order to allow Texas Instruments to concentrate on resolving difficulties in moving to the volume production of 900MHz UltraSPARC III chips. Current versions of UltraSPARC III ship at 750MHz.

Meanwhile UMC, which has previously worked for Sun, will concentrate on making less advanced UltraSPARC IIe and the relationship is not expected to extend beyond that.

For UMC, which has previously specialised in making less complicated chips, the deal means it is able to move into the more lucrative processor manufacturing business. Sun will see the deal as a means to accelerate the roll out of server and workstation kit.

Since the introduction of a workstation and low-end server based on UltraSPARC III last September, Sun has had a variety of problems to contend with. At the beginning of the year there were widespread reports of delays and difficulties in meeting demand for kit based on the UltraSPARC III. This was consistently denied by Sun.

In March Sun introduced a range of mid-range servers based on UltraSPARC III which revamped its ageing range of UltraSPARC II based servers. However soon after this Sun had to issue a patch for its newly introduced kit after it emerged that in rare circumstances a glitch in the processor could result in data corruption problems. The patch is believed to result in a 5 per cent hit in the performance of some applications. ®

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