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Safari, so good

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Exclusive Dr Doolittle talked to the animals. But in the land of the rising Sun, all the animals talk to the Vulture.

According to a snake in the long grass, Sun Microsystems' long overdue update of its workgroup servers is almost upon us. The 4-way server codenamed Cherrystone and 8-way server codenamed Daktari will be first to appear. Both use UltraSPARC III processors starting at 750Mhz. Cherrystone and Daktari systems will appear under the monikers SunFire 440R and 880R, and boast hot swapping PCI and dynamic reconfiguration .

It's not clear whether Daktari will ship with a model of Clarence the Cross Eyed Lion, but we very much hope so.

Sun's existing range of SunFires (3800, 4800 and 6800) was enameled with UltraSPARC IIIs late last year. The Serengeti* 'midframe' servers that we told you about here last September finally debuted earlier this year.

That leaves the beast of the jungle, the E10000, looking high and dry - but not for much longer.

The E10000's eventual overhaul will begin with the the 72-way StarCat, to be christened the SunFire 15000, according to a terrified gazelle who has witnessed its birth. StarCat will follow on not too long after the launch of Daktari and Cherrystone. The firstborn StarCat just happens to have three times as many CPUs as the 24-way Sun Fire 6800, whose 'Safari' chipset is designed to scale very well to 24 CPUs but no further. It doesn't take a wise old monkey with a stick to remind us about Sun's COMA architecture, which has been used to glue several big boxes together in a prototype called Wildfire.

SunFire 6800s have been a laboratory for evil StarCat jungle experiments.

COMA is used to improve scalability by making sure everyone has a copy of commonly used memory, which will hardly cause StarCat to go weak at the knees, with it being able to take up to 2TB of main memory, more than a herd of elephants can manage. StarCats can support up to 18 system domains.

Safari, so good.

But temperatures will really begin to rise with the next annual revision of UltraSPARC III processor and chipset. A flock of flamingos flying south spells out the word 'Cheetah+' (Cheetah was the code name for UltraSPARC III), signifying a New and Improved Core (tm) and better external cache, timed for the Fall.". The economics are really quite interesting, if you follow the fortunes of doomed oceanliners or their sister ships. And it's timed nicely for the release of Solaris 9, currently in beta.

* Register Shoestring: Sun is dropping its aitches. Preferring 'Serengeti' to 'Serengheti' - although our dictionaries tolerate both.

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