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Solaris SPARC to x86 software highway opens

x86 to SPARC highway planned

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Sun Microsystems has gone totally native. Customers can now run unmodified SPARC/Solaris applications on x86 systems thank to a partnership with Transitive. The two companies also plan to craft a new package for running native x86 applications on SPARC machines.

Transitive this week announced that the long in beta QuickTransit for Solaris code has moved into production form. It even gets a Solaris Ready Logo and all.

Customers can use this code to run applications written for Solaris/SPARC machines on x86 boxes running the Solaris operating system. Sun would prefer that you buy its x86 hardware, but with the likes of Dell, IBM and HP all supporting Solaris to various degrees, you have plenty of options.

Companies such as Apple and IBM have made liberal use of Transitive's code morphing skills. Apple's Rosetta package, for example, lets you run PowerPC flavored software on Intel-based Macs, while IBM's PowerVM Lx86 - formerly System P Application Virtual Environment or PAVE - allows you to run Linux/x86 software on Power-based servers without modification.

Sun plans to follow IBM's lead via the new deal with Transitive, so that x86 software can sit atop SPARC boxen.

QuickTransit for Solaris makes sense particularly for those ISVs that spent a lot of money creating software for SPARC servers during Sun's late 1990s boom. Some of these companies have been reluctant to invest in crafting fresh versions of their code for x86 systems. Now they can just hop aboard Transitive.

The translation technology used by Transitive does result in a performance hit, but the company has a number of optimizers that can lessen the blow.

We're told that an x86 application moving over to SPARC hardware may slow by 60 per cent to 80 per cent. Software with more repetitive tasks such as a database will suffer less, since Transitive can make the best use of its optimizers on that type of code. (Please feel free to have at your SPARC performance jokes.)

Transitive said it could take up to a year to build the x86-to-SPARC code, although help from Sun could speed the process.

Transitive offers three versions of QuickTransit for Solaris/SPARC-to-Solaris/x86. You'll find Workstation, Server and Legacy flavors. The Legacy package caters to very old versions of Solaris no longer supported by Sun.

You can check out the Transitive code here. ®

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