As expected, Intel Corp and Sun Microsystems Inc have agreed to work together to optimize Sun’s Solaris operating system for Intel’s future Merced chip. Sun promises a 64-bit version of Solaris for Merced at the same time the chip is ready, some time in 1999 (CI No 3,265), bringing the operating system up to speed and up to date. Sun says it’s already completed around 90% of the changes that will have to be made to the operating system to upgrade it from a 32-bit Intel based architecture to 64-bit with the work it carried out to upgrade the 64-bit based Sparc architecture. Sun will open a Solaris on Intel porting and tuning center for software vendors and OEMs. Intel will provide technical assistance and the two will expand their efforts on IA- 32 and IA-64 server platform initiatives. Merced will be a key opportunity for Sun to gain new OEM customers for Solaris – but it will face competition from Intel market leader the Santa Cruz Operation, and maybe also from Digital Equipment Corp, which is porting its 64-bit Alpha Unix over to Merced as part of its recent legal settlement with Intel (CI No 3,310). Sun and Intel have also announced a royalty free patent cross licensing agreement that will enable both companies to develop technologies without the risk of infringing on each other’s patents – the subject of many a lawsuit over the last year. The agreement is effective immediately and will cover microprocessors, systems and software.
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