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Server Specs: Sun releases Niagara to GPL

Sun releases specs on its Niagara chip under the GPL; Share recognizes the SSA for mainframe network wizardry; Sun rolls out its public utility offering; and Cray redesigns supercomputer architecture.

Sun releases Niagara specs on GPL
Sun Microsystems Inc. today published hardware design specifications and Solaris simulations for its UltraSPARC T1 processor under the Gnu General Public License (GPL). Code-named Niagara, the 64-bit, 32-threaded processor was released last year. Sun is releasing the code to give companies the information needed to create hardware, software, tools and other applications in Sun's multithreaded ecosystem. IBM has done something similar in efforts to build support for its Power chip architecture. The announcement coincided with the Multicore Expo, taking place in Santa Clara, Calif., this week.

Share recognizes SSA for mainframe network wizardry
The mainframe user group Share recognized the Social Security Administration (SSA) at its spring conference in Seattle, Wash., for a recent successful project -- a large

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scale overhaul of its mainframe-based network. The project resulted in providing thousands of employees with a network that is significantly more resilient to better manage data regarding taxes, retirement, disability, family benefits and Medicare. Judy Miskill, IT specialist at the SSA said, "Moving the system from a Token Ring network to an IP capable LAN/WAN environment was a huge undertaking from the mainframe to the end users." With the new infrastructure in place, Miskill said the network handles 60 million CICS transactions per day and is much more reliable.

Sun rolls out public utility grid offering
Sun this week rolls out its first "true" utility computing offering, the retail version of its Sun Grid. Sun has touted its $1 per CPU per hour plan since last year, but this is the first time customers can just jump on a portal and start burning CPUs without a reservation, according to Aisling MacRunnels, senior director of utility computing for Sun. Previously, the system had only been available for use under reservation contracts. Ed Hawes, CEO of Virtual Compute Corp. (VCC), was an early adopter of the Sun Grid. The Houston-based company uses the CPUs to run processing for oil and gas companies as well as life sciences. Hawes said the Sun Grid is going to be a big hit for companies that need short runs of high-performance CPUs, but if you need to use it beyond four-to-six months, it makes sense to buy your own infrastructure. VCC uses Sun Grid for its engagements under six months and for overflow. A pilot version is available now via portal at

Cray redesigns supercomputer architecture
Supercomputing veterans Cray Inc. launched a new design for its high-performance computers this week. The Seattle-based company plans to manufacture supercomputers that integrate different processing technologies into a single machine, combining standard microprocessors, vector processing, multithreading and hardware accelerators in one high-performance system that uses the Linux operating system. Cray plans to market the systems to the traditional high-performance computing market -- science labs and companies that have large imaging workloads. The company is betting on this technology as it faces financial hurdles -- posting net losses over the last two years, $64 million in 2005 and $204 million in 2004.

Let us know what you think about the story; e-mail: Matt Stansberry, Site Editor

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