Sun explores parallel universe with Studio 12
Targets Linux developers with gateway IDE
Sun Microsystems today releases Sun Studio 12, its latest IDE (integrated development environment) for C, C++ and Fortran. It's freely available for Solaris and Linux software platforms and the update will be useful for developers building multi-core and multi-threaded applications, the company says.
Sun hopes that a combination of visual development for profiling and tuning and such like, with juiced-up performance using compilers for Solaris will convince GNU/Linux developers to pick Sun Studio 12, over Eclipse or tools using the Free Software Foundation's popular GNU Compiler Collection (GCC).
Previous versions of Studio supported Linux in the IDE and tools but not compilers. Sun aims to provide developers with the freedom of compiling to Linux or Solaris, without re-writing code, while also giving access to the fast Solaris architecture.
Studio 12 features static and dynamic tools to help debug, profile and optimize applications for multi-core and multi-threaded applications.
Sun is "collaborating closely" with AMD and Intel - the latter announced its status as a Sun hardware partner at JavaOne last month- to ensure Studio 12 works on their respective multi-core Barcelona and Woodcrest chip architectures.
"We have this visual experience that you don't get with the tools around GCC," Jeet Kaul, developer partner veep, told The Register. "Eclipse has a comparable visual experience, but doesn't have the performance or multithreading."
For all its talk of supporting GNU/Linux and AMD and Intel, Sun obviously wants application developers to target Solaris and Sparc. That means Studio 12 should be seen as a gateway IDE, to help developers slowly move across. "[Studio 12] opens up the Solaris market to all the Linux developers out there," according to Kaul.
"This is the same IDE and compilers running on Sparc, Opteron, Woodcrest and different versions of Linux. You can move back and forth between all those systems quite easily," he said.
But how successful will Sun be in convincing non-Solaris developers to build for Sun as well as for Linux? In light of the trend for users to abandon Unix for Linux, the notion that Studio 12 will propel many non-Sun shops to migrate fully to Solaris seems somewhat fanciful.
Sun claims 100,0000 regular users of Studio 11. It thinks this is driven by the popularity of Solaris 10, but it is unable to provide numbers of Linux developers using Studio 11.
If Studio 12 has the features that Linux developers want, then Sun's latest IDE could even end up working against Sun's Solaris and SPARC chip-based hardware business, while helping the x86 server operations. ®
Compilers need to be close to the OS
My experience (a while ago now) was that Sun's compilers worked much better than gcc when compiling for Solaris - which is to be expected. With higher end SPARC kit there will be API available to the compiler which will enable the OS to place stuff around the system in ways which speed everything up. In effect it is, and should be, possible for the OS and compiler to help each other out, and Sun's compilers have always been good in this regard.
Is Sun's Studio the silver bullet/Trojan horse which will get all the GNU/Linux developers onto Solaris? Of course not. Is Sun removing obstacles for software developers (both free and commercial)? Absolutely.
There is a big body of commercial and free software for which GNU/Linux is the tier-1 platform, and Solaris/SPARC/x86 is tier-2. If the result of this move is that Solaris moves to tier-1 alongside GNU/Linux, Sun have their desired result.