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December 2, 1993

SUN MICROSYSTEMS READIES SS10, LX MICROSPARC UPGRADES FOR THE COMING APRIL

By CBR Staff Writer

Sun Microsystems Inc is working on upgrades to two of its workstations: Kodiak, said to be a faster version of the Sparcstation 10; and Aurora, a new iteration of the low-end LX, but based on the MicroSparc-II chip – a scheduled piece of silicon that has not been used before. Both boxes are due in April and Sun will try to position the new LX as more powerful than Pentium-based machines, but with a comparable price. The 3.3V MicroSparc-II is designed to go from 70MHz to 100MHz or 45 to 60 Specint 92, with a new floating point unit, enhanced integer unit, 4x cache and power management, produced by a more streamlined manufacturing process. The new SS10, conversely, will be based on an unanticipated revision of the SuperSparc chip, due to be announced early next year. Sun has reportedly been able to reduce the number of support chips that SuperSparc needs by one – a pricey Mbus controller that costs hundreds of dollars. Although the price of the SuperSparc chip remains the same, it will cost less to produce the whole system. The chip, which will be made by Texas Instruments Inc, Sun’s Sparc house, is said to work with existing chip sets and will start at 50MHz. Samples should be available in the first quarter, with production quantities following in the second. The advent of this low-cost SuperSparc will affect the way Sun phases in 60MHz SuperSparcs. Although the chip is now said to be available to everyone at 60MHz clock rates, it is not being manufactured in sufficient quantities for Sun. Sources say it is unlikely the present iteration will be produced in Sun quantities at 60MHz, and the company will await the arrival of the low-cost SuperSparc to make the move.

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