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Sun loves Fujitsu, despite SPARC slip

What's a few months between friends?

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Sun Microsystems wants to prolong its relationship with partner Fujitsu beyond 2008 despite the companies' first, joint high-end servers hitting a delay.

David Yen, executive vice president of Sun's scalable systems group, expressed optimism on Wednesday that the company could continue its relationship with Fujitsu in the face of their mutual server enemy - IBM.

Yen's enthusiasm came as he conceded that the first fruits of the companies' relationship, the Advanced Product Line (APL) of servers, that are expected to feature Fujitsu's own SPARC64 processor, would not ship until 2007.

Originally due for the middle of 2006, Yen said the delay would last "a few months".

"You can expect low-end four and eight-way [servers] will happen sooner - before the end of this year. High-end 13, 32 and 64-way [servers] will probably happen in the early part of next year."

Yen did not give a reason for the delay.

Sun entered into the relationship with Fujitsu nearly two years ago, after canning the planned, and somewhat troublesome UltraSPARC V and Gemini processors. Under the companies' deal, Sun will ship servers using the Olympus edition of Fujitsu's SPARC64 processor instead of using UltraSPARC.

The APL product line was scheduled to kick-in during 2006, just as Sun's UltraSPARC IV came to the end of its lifespan. The deal potentially leaves Sun with a hole in its roadmap that is likely to be filled by Sun's UltraSPARC IV+ servers, demand for which outstripped expectations during its second fiscal quarter.

Sun already plans a 1.8GHz architecture, but Yen said: "We may even push beyond that."

Separately, Sun will open source its Niagara chip by March, with specifications published to www.opensparc.net. "Sun is publishing the chip's architecture so that "SPARC [can] go beyond Solaris and for Solaris to be successful... beyond SPARC," Yen says.

The website is designed to off-load the effort of supporting independent development efforts. "To facilitate the Linux porting, and to reduce our support burden, we will publish the API for the internal firmware," Yen said. He added that he already knew of "more than one" effort to port Linux to the T1000 and T2000 (Niagara) platform. ®

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