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Sun sends SPARC team members packing

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Sun Microsystems has laid off seven per cent of its SPARC processor and server group, as it pares back projects in an effort to save costs.

Most of the workers were officially notified of the cuts yesterday, and word of the layoffs did not come as a surprise. Sun had a large number of SPARC research and development projects underway, as it looked for ways to complement its UltraSPARC T1 line and upcoming Rock family of processors. Many staffers suspected their projects might be cancelled, according to sources, and have long been shopping for new jobs.

As we reported in an exclusive last month, one of these projects was code-named Jupiter, which was meant to serve as a networking and security co-processor for Rock chips. The Jupiter project has been cancelled, and the team laid off this week, sources told El Reg.

Sun, however, characterized any roadmap changes as insignificant.

"The Scalable Systems Group management team worked hard to minimize the number of terminations by closing open requisitions, re-allocating resources and increasing organizational efficiency where possible," Sun said in a statement. "Unfortunately the effort has resulted in notifications to some of SSG's employees - approximately 200.

"Sun's overall strategy remains the same and our product roadmap is as strong as it has ever been with no significant changes."

Sun has long been reluctant to trim payrolls despite Wall Street's constant urging to do so. The company has hovered just below the break even point for a few quarters. Layoffs could help kick it into the black.

Not too long ago, Sun executives bragged that they would hire any gifted chip engineers on the market. Such braggadocio seems to have faded with Opteron taking on more importance for Sun's future plans. Sun currently shares SPARC costs with Fujitsu.

Our sources indicate that Sun has decided to center its resources around the core UltraSPARC T1 and Rock offerings rather than push money and people onto fringe products as well. ®

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