Sun Exits High-End CPU Design

The New York Times reports that Sun has canceled its chronically delayed next generation SPARC CPU, codenamed "Rock":

http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/15/sun-is-said-to-cancel-big-chip-project

The enterprise-class server processor chip business is extremely competitive and capital-intensive. The tough global economy is forcing some tough business decisions. I expect that IBM, in particular, will disproportionately benefit from this decision and should gain additional marketshare with its POWER and System z products.

But when I first heard this news I did not think about the market implications, the effect on IBM, what happens to Intel, etc. I immediately thought about the employment implications of this announcement. This cancellation is a major blow to the relatively small processor engineering community, and too many talented engineers are presumably losing their jobs. Whatever one might say about Sun now, the company has (and had) some of the best engineers for so many years. That part of the story needs to be reported, too.

UPDATE: IBM reacted quickly to the Itanium (HP) and SPARC (Sun) processor roadmap failures and broken promises, improving its offerings to encourage more migrations to IBM System z and POWER servers. Here's one example: http://www.ibm.com/systems/migratetoibm/systems/z. And another: http://www.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/27613.wss.

UPDATE 2: Back at the end of April, Marketwatch reported (from a Japanese newspaper source) that Fujitsu is scrapping plans to develop next generation semiconductor technology on its own. The story refers to semiconductor fabrication but also (disturbingly) says that Fujitsu is cutting "other technologies that were in the development pipeline." Which ones? In contrast, IBM has state-of-the-art semiconductor factories and leads semiconductor design (and process) research and development.

by Timothy Sipples June 16, 2009 in Systems Technology
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Seamus McManus: Beekeeper; Father of Cloud Computing

A 2 minute 'history' of cloud computing, including the pivotal role of the mainframe. For a more factual account, see today's New York Time's article.

by Timothy Sipples June 15, 2009 in History
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Random Mainframe News for Mid-June, 2009

Thank you all for some excellent comments in the informal open source for z/OS "survey." There are some excellent ideas. Please also be sure to visit (and especially contribute to) the developing Open Source for z/OS Wiki.

There's plenty of recent mainframe-related news to summarize, so here we go:

  1. Intel announced yet another delay in shipping an improved Itanium CPU, codenamed "Tukwila." Tukwila CPUs were originally supposed to ship in 2007, but Intel now says you can forget about seeing them before 2010. The delay is crushing to Hewlett-Packard, the sole remaining major vendor producing Itanium-based servers.
  2. PR/SM, which provides the LPAR virtualization in IBM mainframes, has once again passed its latest round of Common Criteria EAL5 certification testing with flying colors. EAL5 certification is only possible for specific configurations, and both System z10 EC and BC achieved this rigorous security standard. This certification assures that System z LPARs provide the strongest available, impenetrable separation between workloads. System z is the only business server ever to achieve EAL5, and it has done so multiple times in multiple configurations.
  3. For those of you a little slow upgrading to z/OS 1.9 or (better yet) z/OS 1.10, IBM is offering a short-term lifeline with extended support for z/OS 1.8. Extended support costs extra, though, so please try not to need it. However, if you do, it's available.
  4. IBM publishes lots of interesting "redbooks" (technical books and documents). A recent addition is entitled "The Mixed Platform Stack Project: Deploying a Secure SOA Solution into z/OS and Mixed z/OS and AIX Environments." It's worth a careful look.
  5. Lots of seminars, webcasts, and teleconferences on offer, live and for replay. (I would bookmark the link and check back periodically.)
  6. eWeek reports that IBM plans to release tons of new System z software in 2009. Be sure to pay close attention and take advantage of this software explosion.
  7. Congratulations to Co-Op Financial Services in the United Kingdom which will save £3m in their upgrade to the latest IBM mainframe technologies (presumably System z10). More savings are possible as CFS looks at integrating Britannia Building Society.
  8. How would you like a working vacation in Australia? Apply by 2 p.m. Australia time on June 23.
  9. CA's Chris O'Malley explains "The Mainframe Bridge to the Cloud." Another link here.
  10. The #1 inductee to InfoWorld's "Hardware Hall of Fame" is the IBM mainframe (in the form of the System/360).
  11. For perspective, Compuware's CEO is not as wealthy as Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, or Larry Ellison.
  12. David Worthington reports that the Canadian government is keeping its mainframes. (Smart move: but keep moving forward, Canada. Keep them current, keep them optimized, and keep them innovative.) In the same breath, "Russia Mounts Antitrust Charges Against Microsoft."
  13. System z certainly shares the celebration of UNIX's 40th birthday coming this August. Genuine, trademarked UNIX runs three ways on the IBM mainframe (and concurrently too): z/OS UNIX System Services, OpenSolaris for System z, and UTS Global's (formerly Amdahl's) UTS.
  14. System z is apparently the only server that sold well in Australia in the first quarter of 2009. Total Australian server unit shipments (all types combined) declined an astounding 38.9% (year over year); total server revenues declined an equally precipitous 38.8%. X86 units dropped 38%, and X86 server revenues utterly collapsed, by nearly half. Wow. "IDC's tracker revealed that IBM remains the market leader in non-x86 servers in Australia. Despite the hype surrounding distributed computing methodologies, System z brand continued to perform strongly."

by Timothy Sipples June 10, 2009
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