Sun cheers Rock delays
Doesn't want to scare customers with performance
Hopefully someone at Sun Microsystems can still explain why the Rock processor is still a good idea.
Today, Sun confirmed what we told you long ago - it's delaying Rock-based servers until the second half of 2009. The company made this admission at its analysts conference in San Francisco. We didn't hear a single question from the pundits about this slip - a curious performance to say the least.
The Rock-based boxes were once meant to arrive later this year, putting Sun in prime position to wallop Itanium- and Power-based systems from HP and IBM. The Rock chip boasts 16 cores and support for unreal amounts of memory. In addition, it can handle single- and multi-threaded software well, as we understand it.
Rather than shedding tears over the delay, Sun is pitching it as a victory for the company. The systems produced in conjunction with Fujitsu around the SPARC64 chips continue to sell very well. In the second half of this year, Sun will upgrade that gear with four-core versions of SPARC64. So, Sun presented the analysts with a "if it ain't broke why fix it" line to soften the blow of the Rock slip.
We see how attractive the prospect of fighting tooth and nail with IBM and HP for Unix server sales must be. Why bother giving yourself an edge by arguably jumping a generation ahead of rivals with a superstar new chip? That would be too easy.
Of course, what else is Sun supposed to say?
In the larger context, the Rock delay really might be okay.
In the first half of this year, Sun plans to release two-socket servers based on the Niagara III chip - aka Victoria Falls. Then, Sun will pop out blades based on that chip in the second half of 2008 and ship a four-socket server in the second half of 2008 as well. (We told you as much, er, two years ago, but who's counting.)
This Niagara-based gear sounds like some serious iron. You get 128 threads per box, and that adds up quickly when you think about stuffing a rack with, say, 48 Victoria Falls blades.
According to Sun's server chief John Fowler, a four-socket Victoria Falls server will match an eight-socket IBM p 570 running on 4.7GHz Power6 chips on database performance while consuming one quarter of the space and one third of the power. Sun's system will also be one-third the cost of IBM's, Fowler expects.
If Sun's figures hold up, then you have to wonder why it would even bother with Rock. Why not kill the chip and use the extra R&D money to keep the Niagara line on track? Surely, Sun could apply some of the Rock tricks to future versions of Niagara and end up in a similar spot. You really just lose out on the single-thread performance, and Sun seems well committed to a multi-core world.
But, hey, we're dumb hacks not business gurus. And we're sure an awful lot of you will appreciate the single thread splendor of Rock.
(Never mind that the US government was meant to foot part of the bill for Rock 2 before Sun lost a huge contract to Cray and IBM.)
Away from UltraSPARC land, Sun plans to ship more and more Barcelona- and Xeon-based servers in the coming year. It's already got tons of 2.0GHz four-core Opterons (Barcelona) humming away at a Texas supercomputing center. Yes, the bug patch has been applied. And, yes, someone is going to pay for an upgrade when the fixed Opterons arrive. AMD, we're looking at you.
With storage, Sun is set to release a number of "open" products in 2008 and to update its tape library gear in the first half of the year.
In addition, Sun will release a second version of its multi-host 10Gb Ethernet NIC in the second half of the year, while it will release a smaller scale version of its Mangum monster switch in the first half of the year. ®
Where growth is
> So, only people that say nice things about Sun are allowed to post here? Sorry, I
> didn't realise this was the Sun Fanclub website! Thanks so much for clearing
> that up, but I think I'm about to upset you again.
Of course you are entitled to your opinion, how much ever one sided they may be,
and the same is applicable to me. I have argued with your post because you are
on the other side of the spectrum - the anti-Sun/pro-HP (who seemingly pretend
to be pro-IBM/DELL as well, just to hide the pro-HP stance) zealot - feel free to prove otherwise.
Yes, I repeat that Sun doesn't need ROCK today, because Fujitsu/APL covers that
space very well for the next two years. Delay in getting a chip out is not new in the non-x86 area - but because of the sticky nature of this business, customers make low purchasing decisions and then they stick for a very long time, and they don't migrate unless options run out on them - and I don't see delay in ROCK roll-out
as one reason why a Sun account would consider migrating. Sun has to deliver
on ROCK to prove on their commitments, but a chip delay with another very
viable option present isn't alarming to Sun to say the least. Sun has been selling
the US-IV+ based servers even now, even though they are utterly uncompetitive,
and they aren't selling them bad either.
You are right, Sun can't survive on x86 business, but that's the area which is
growing. Unix business isn't growing - it's slowly shrinking because some
applications are migrating to x86. HP/IBM/Sun are scrambling to get the piece
of the debris, but nobody is betting their business growth on it. x86 is where the
growth is coming from. Where do you think Oracle gets most of it's revenue these
days - from the Unix DB licenses or from the x86 licenses - feel free to point to
appropriate data instead of hand waving. Many of these x86 Oracle licenses can
instead use MySQL and would save lots of money even with 24x7 support. There
are lots of markets outside the Fortune-500 mission critical area which need
reasonably good databases at the best price - MySQL has a popularity lead in this space compared to PostgreSQL. And Windows bundled freebie SQL ? May be
it's good for a hobby project, these sexy new startups are all doing Linux -
windows isn't on their radar. A customer starts with free MySQL on Linux, but
as it's operation becomes bigger, his inhouse support is no longer enough -
tha't when is opts for paid support on the same software and can still save money
compared to keeping an inhouse support team.
And of course Sun's new x86 servers are not second tier DELL clone, not unless
you are working for HP or DELL marketing. Margins on x86 servers are slim on
x86 server hardware, but not on software/service/support. If Sun can execute well
on their software side, they can get a lot more margin compared to DELL.
So yes, when Sun CEO goes to the wall street and begs in front of them, that's
because he has seen that the ground has already moved from underneath Sun - all those Unix customers has already migrated to much cheaper
x86/Linux/Windows boxes - and the CEO already knows that these customers will
never move back to another Unix box again, whether IBM or HP or Sun for these
applications already migrated. Guess what ? More and more customers keep
buying a lot more x86 servers compared to Unix servers for their data crunching
AND these web applications, and more startups are coming up completely based
on Linux/Opensource and keeps growing lot faster than these old horse business
houses. It's wise to try to grow by courting these geeks while trying to keep the
revenue stream from the enterprise backbone steady.
Tell me about how much HP and IBM are poaching Sun Unix customers with
their Unix gears (not migration to x86) because Sun doesn't have ROCK (I count
IBM is doing it well, but I very much doubt HP). I bet Sun would be happy
defending themselves with APL and put the extra energy behind their x86
business and software.
RE: RE: RE: Matt, Matt, Matt
So, only people that say nice things about Sun are allowed to post here? Sorry, I didn't realise this was the Sun Fanclub website! Thanks so much for clearing that up, but I think I'm about to upset you again.
"Sun doesn't need ROCK today...."??? Reality check - Wintel/Lintel is a very competitive arena and Sun is very much Johnny-come-lately to a part of the market where margins are skinny and services restricted by the fact many customers can do the job themselves. However, the enterprise space (where companies pay more to have the solid performance, support and scalability of big iron UNIX) is margin-rich, offers great services opportunities, and is worth more for less physical servers units than the Lintel/Wintel bizz. Even with their growing capability, neither Linux nor Windows on x86 can truly replace those big iron units today (well, maybe on Itanium they can), which means Sun has a problem. Sun can't survive on just the Lintel/Wintel bizz it has, it would have to massively scale back if it accepts being the number four x86 vendor, and at the same time would need to widen it's x86 portfolio as even Dell has a broader offering. Do you think any Sun CEO wants to go to Wall Street and say "Hey, guys, we used to be the number one UNIX vendor but now we just want to be a 2nd tier Dell clone?" I think not. Sun desperately needs its customers to believe in Rock as otherwise those customers will go to another vendor and probably another commercial UNIX. FSC and the APL give Sun a breathing space, but expect IBM and HP (and Red Hat, SuSE and Mickey$haft) to try and pinch the Sun customers. At the moment, Sun's flip-flops and slippages are making it easy for them - IBM has a solid and believable roadmap, so does HP, but Sun's has looked a shaky for years....
And yes, MySQL is a great money saver, on the edge - in the datacenter core, customers pay for support for bizz critical apps, which puts MySQL right in there against Oracle, DB2, etc, etc. Look at Linux on iSeries or Integrity, it all comes with proper support at a price. If a customer is going for freeware, what's to stop them using PostgreSQL, or even the freebie SQL built into Windows Server 2003? Sun have a lot of work to do before MySQL becomes the golden goose you seem to think it is, and given Sun's record with software acquisitions I'd not be counting on it.
RE: RE: Matt, Matt, Matt
So you are one frustrated guy out there to take revenge with all vengeance. Some Sun sales guys wanted to sell you something and it didn't work - big deal !! Your porting project fails and you start putting the blame on somebody - talk about pointing fingers...
Here is an interesting story for you to read:
I guess these guys are gunning for IBM, just like you.
As far your Slowaris moniker, may be you are too much out of date. This term was applicable to pre-s10 x86 version of solaris, not any more.
Yes, Oracle is important for big iron enterprise stuffs - but when it comes to Oracle RAC on these tiny servers, LAMP can be a great replacement. Of course Oracle wants to push RAC more than their regular 10g/11g because they can charge for both per cpu and per node and get more money - MySQL has the potential to be a great money saver. It's just a question of time - Linux was only on the EDGE few years ago, today it is encroaching into mission critical areas. So Larry comes up with his own Larry Linux to make more money. The monetary incentives are just too hard to ignore for open-source databases to go the same way.
Sun doesn't need ROCK today, any more than HP needs Tukwilla. The 4-core upgrades to Fujitsu servers will keep the clock ticking for years. Who knows whether promise of ROCK will ever materialize, I can't care less. I just like to see Sun filling up their x86 portfolio faster with lot more Intel based x86 servers and lot more supported free software.