Community Development Comes to Hardware

We just introduced the first fruits of our collaboration with Fujitsu at a big launch event in New York – and I want to start by offering my congratulations to a unique group of people: those individuals and teams responsible for joint development at Sun, Fujitsu and in the OpenSolaris community. If you believe, as I, that community development is the future of Sun (and our industry), you can point to our announcement as proof – two companies, and a broad open community, worked together to produce a singular product set that presents opportunity for us all.

Together, we’re building a line of SPARC/Solaris machines targeting very high scale computing environments. The machines are general purpose, run Solaris without modification, but offer features and scale that were historically the stuff only mainframe customers could love (because no other computers offered them).

The high end of the new family (called M-class, where the M means Mainframe, not Monster, the latter’s appealing propensity to eat dinosaurs aside), delivers the industry’s most powerful, general purpose computer in a single cabinet, a one teraflop machine (one capable of performing a trillion instructions per second). It looks like the picture at the left (and before you ask, it’s targeted at folks who care about the kinds of high performance computational problems that aren’t divisible into fleets of smaller machines – although most social networking sites are easily scaled by the addition of more web servers, the same isn’t true for large scale airline reservation or ERP systems, or many simulations).

This isn’t the only product in the family, there are a variety of other smaller scale systems – which leverage Fujitsu’s innovations around mainframe reliability, ours around Solaris and high volume computing, and our joint expertise in building competitive systems and service organizations. And unlike the Rock systems to which I alluded earlier, our M-class systems are shipping today, and designed for conventional workloads.

Below is the note I sent to my counterpart at Fujitsu, expressing how proud we are of the collaboration – and how hopeful we are about continuing that work going forward.


Begin forwarded message:

From: Jonathan Schwartz
Date: April 18, 2007 4:18:05 PM PDT
To: kurokawa-san
Cc: citoh, John Fowler
Subject: Congratulations!


I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to you and the entire Sun-Fujitsu SPARC Enterprise product team on the announced shipment of our newest M-class systems. These ground breaking products are a shining example of our collaboration, and the opportunities opened through partnership and cooperation in broadening the SPARC/Solaris ecosystem.

The performance numbers of these new systems are astounding – I understand we can now deliver a full teraflop of computing power in a single cabinet! Additionally, we are achieving spectacular SPARC64 VI performance results – setting world records for SAP performance in enterprise deployments, and Linpack for high performance computing.

These new systems provide breakthrough capabilities for solving massive scale mission critical problems, from financial transaction processing and business intelligence, to simulation, design, and the delivery of enormous volumes of web interactions.

These are truly mainframe systems – that expand the reach of SPARC systems into markets that were previously out of reach. With up to 64 sockets, 2TB of memory, a 368GB/sec backplane, and the addition of instruction retry, memory mirroring and online repair – among many other previously “mainframe only” features – we’ve unquestionably brought the choice and competitiveness of open systems to an entirely new market segment.

Optimized for Solaris, and entirely binary compatible with existing applications, we’re able to offer customers the highest levels of reliability, availability and manageability without high costs, complexity or vendor lock in. By leveraging Sun’s expertise in open, partition-based network computing and Fujitsu’s experience in mission-critical computing and high performance processor design, we’ve been able to offer a family of servers that are unrivaled as virtualization/consolidation platforms.

So again, my thanks and congratulations to you and your team – we’re honored to work together, and look forward to continuing the development and evolution of the SPARC/Solaris ecosystem.

With warm regards,

Jonathan Schwartz

Chief Executive Officer,
Sun Microsystems, Inc.


Filed under General

23 responses to “Community Development Comes to Hardware

  1. Tony Bivona

    Good Morning Jonathan,
    Congratulations on another home run…Things are definitely looking real good…I have been reading quite a bit about large data centers being opened by some potential customers…(Google and Microsoft come to mind)…It looks like quite a few more will be built as well…Have you guys been able to secure any deals for the buildouts for some of these data centers with some of the new gear…I think that the one Microsoft just built was about $600,000,000.00…I think that they plan another 5 or 6…Anyways, I hope for your continued success…Have a great weekend and good luck with the next fiscal quarter…Tony Bivona

  2. 1) Hope that the new servers can stop IBM from bringing us back to the stone age!
    Mainframes for China/India!?

    2) It would be nice if we can use the pictures on Wikipedia:
    SPARC Enterprise

  3. Aron

    Can I have one? Or alternatively why don’t you open one up for community members to run their software on it, I for one would like to see just how fast my Java apps would go on that beast (or whatever you call non-monster Mainframe). I assume security can make it bullet proof…?

  4. Peter Firmstone

    SPARC Architecture; relevant to all Server workloads
    With Sparc VI, Sun & Fujitsu have a serious value proposition for high availability, up to 128 threads of blistering single thread performance, with the advantage of DTrace and Solaris for the kind of market differentiation that allows Sysadmins to sleep well at night
    Couple these product offerings with Niagara II and Rock next year with Solaris Containers should see plenty of opportunity and choice for Server consolidation and replacement of ageing server clusters. Data Centre Customers will be able to distribute workloads among servers based on threading performance requirements, easily moving a zone from one server to another.
    Now you need to make sure your manufacturing, sales and service channels can cope with the looming demand as well as provide responsive, positive customer experiences.

  5. Dear Jonathan Schwatz,
    This little one Terraflap box is almost eligible to get into the top 500 list. And looks like this is a One Terraflap off the shelf offer.
    This first machine is one terraflap in a single cabinet, after a few more, perhaps ten or more terra flaps in a single cabinet. Off the shelf or by mail order !!!
    Is there a plan to change your name from Sun Microsystems to Sun Supercomputer Systems???

  6. Andrei Rodionov

    Dear Jonathan or whoever reads this log from Sun,

    sorry this is offtopic! While the big hardware is nice, Solaris 10 needs fresh third-party, open source applications (newest qemu, for example). While places like can deliver some apps in packaged form, we need them more recent versions. Please hire some cheap sysadmins in Russia and they will start making those packages like hot cakes! (drop me a line if you need help with that :))

    And please, make a nice package manager like Debian has!!

    Thank you.
    — Andrei, MSc, MBA

  7. Geoff Croker

    Having been a Sun user and watcher since 1983 I am more than impressed with the culture reversal. I once saw a great company open up its technology to small players who nimbly out tech’ed Sun. Was this bad for big mother Sun. No. She lost weight and got fitter. She even copied most of those innovations. Unfortunately someone lost the plot while staring at Microsoft. NMH (not made here) suddenly became the mantra. Hopefully NMH has moved to another company. This cost Sun 10 years of business innovation and went straight to the bottom line. An own goal.
    For the first time in ten years you have not only any exciting product line but a very wide community pipe feeding more product.
    Congratulations. Sun deserves another go.

  8. Jonathan, I want to congratulate you on the amazing new M-class and all the other innovations that have been coming from Sun lately. All these innovations make it very easy to be a Sun Campus Ambassador, as students are always looking ahead to learn new technologies and there is always news from Sun to tell them about! Also, with Suns openness in software (and hardware) development, it is the perfect choice for students to explore and learn about the future of software. I am genuinely proud to be a part of this company.

  9. Prabhujeet

    Hi Jonathan,
    Am i missing something here ?
    Sun’s Site talks of Q32007 results to be announced on April 24….
    Please read this :
    ” Listen to Sun’s executives talk about third quarter fiscal year 2007 financial results. The Q3 FY07 financial results conference call begins at 1:30 PM PST on Tuesday, April 24th, 2007. ”

  10. Zoltan Farkas

    Nice Server, and all I can say about Fujitsu SPARC CPUs: lightning fast. Faster than the SUN made SPARCs.
    Now, I have one complaint, most of our deployments are on 2 CPU sparc machines, and since our application is storage intensive we need a lot of storage, why can’t the 2U sun servers able to accommodate more than 4 drives (without sacrificing a dvdrom). In a lot of cases we have to add another 1U external storage. If I would have to use a HP server I would not need to do this and it makes the sun solution not competitive.
    You guys in your ads compare your servers in the SWAP metric against HP servers that can accommodate a lot more storage than the sun servers (and makes them a better platform for zfs, and our application).
    Now Thumper is a nice server, but it is a bit extreme in quite a few situations. I would like to see something in between Thumper and Sun Fire v245, something like: HP ProLiant DL320s Server Series, with 14 drive bays.
    This might be a important product gap to fill.

  11. The culture of Innovation at Sun which is continually evolving is a credit to you. You are right… the performance of these new systems are astounding. Congrats to all in the partnership.

  12. Anonymous

    Although the new product line definitely satisfies the top-tier customer segment, is there any plan to use Fujitsu SPARC for mid- to bottom-tier market?
    For example, the Sun SPARC Workstation products have been stalled for years (they are still using single core SPARC IIIi and much more expensive (and slow) relative to x86 product lines).

  13. Marco Micheletto

    That´s simply amazing, in a market that nowadays is dominated by IBM, it is a news that will shake this segment.

  14. Alex Lam

    Do we get to Try & Buy for the M Series?
    Just kidding – by the way, thanks for the T1000, it is a great machine. A few glitches still to set the thing up for benchmarking, but I am appreciating the amount of thought that has put into the design as I speak.

  15. Kevin

    Congratulations on a second quarter of profit. With so many products due in Q4 and FY08 it’s entirely understandable why March was slow. I hope your new M-series servers, faster Sparc IV+ chips, and AMD M2 servers drive a great final financial quarter for Sun. One question: do you have any plans for your $5.5bn cash pile?

  16. Insane

    Comment on BRAND:
    Brand is not only about promise or expectation. It is about “walk the walk”. So far, SUN’s erratic execution on its promises is not helping the brand.
    Maybe you should put some Dell or IBM guy in charge of operation.

  17. fxia

    Seems that only margin &profit is not enough, the market wants more growth.

  18. Martijn

    Jonathan and of course all the people at Sun. Congratulations with the new line of servers from Sun/Fujitsu.
    Keep up the good work.

  19. While this is a good thing to open source the hardware, isn’t it too late? The PC and the PCI bus are examples of an open hardware architecture model. It seems to me the next phase is more along the lines of Amazon’s Elastic Compute Cloud than buying hardware that I have to unpack, rack and eventually sack. Sun would never think to get on that innovation curve I guess. Even though they are probably more capable than Amazon to deliver it. After all, the network is the computer, not the mainframe. Well, I guess it’s just like the people who sold blocks of ice and could never move on to selling refrigerators. They just kept selling ice blocks until they went out of business.

  20. thank you very very nıce thank you very very much…

  21. Jonathan and John,
    Wow – cool. I mean the Fujitsu announce and activities. We have been aware of the long-term and fruitful relationship between the two companies, and are pleased to see the progression – especially at the data center class, with the strong VM emphasis and enhanced out of band system management features. We look forward to further Solaris extensions that will continue to demonstrate Sun thought leadership (turned into real and useful products for our customers!) at the same amazing pace that you guys are moving.
    Best, Wyatt.

  22. Kevin

    @John Koenig, I completely agree about Amazon’s EC2 being the future direction of high-scale computing. Even Sun’s own Greg Papadopoulus (CTO) agrees. Sun’s compute service solves just one narrow specific type of computing problem – the “load, run, results” type – and with a human operator required. Amazon’s EC2 solves the much broader “automated scalable network services” type of problem that most people need to solve. Plus they have scalable storage too. It’s sad to see a book seller beat Sun in network services. Please can Sun address this? Otherwise it’s such a wasted opportunity. Even managed scalable JEE hosting would be a start. How about it Sun? </plea>

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