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November 14, 1994

SUN WILL USE ROSS HYPERSPARCs IN SPARCSTATION 20s BUT MACHINE IS LIKELY TO BE A NICHE PRODUCT

By CBR Staff Writer

Sun Microsystems Computer Co has finally relented, saying that it will now use Ross Technology Inc’s HyperSparc chips in a high-end SparcStation 20, just as Ross claimed it would back in May (CI No 2,414). No doubt Ross’s acquisition by Fujitsu Ltd, since May Sun’s semiconductor partner, was a persuasive factor in its decision, but the Sun division also says that it is convinced Ross has recovered from the catastrophic fab failure that haunted its early days as a Cypress Computer Corp subsidiary and that it will be able to deliver a steady stream of reliable silicon. It is now using Fujitsu’s fabrication processes. Sun, on the other hand, is not committing a general-purpose line to the chip. The SparcStation 20 Model HS11, which takes its name from the fact that it uses a HyperSparc 100MHz chip and is a uniprocessor, is a niche computer-intensive product targeted at the technical market. Sun estimates that only 20% of its customers might be interested in it. Sun, at one point last week, also interpreted its move as a holding action while it waits for the arrival of its home-made high-end UltraSparc chip next year. The HS11 box, due for first deliveries next month, supports Solaris 2.4 and a release of Sun’s unshakeable Solaris 1 environment called Solaris 1.1.2, with a 25% faster install. While the chip, which was supposed to go to full production last quarter, is rated at 111 SPECint92 and 135 SPECfp92, Sun says the system will perform at 104.5 SPECint and 127.6 SPECfp, around 20% better than its top-rated Sun-derived 60MHz SuperSparc machines. The HS11, a familiar pizza box design, will include up to 512Mb of main memory, up to 2Gb internal mass storage and four SBus slots. It also includes a CD-ROM drive, floppy and high-quality audio. SparcStation 10 and 20 workstations and servers can upgrade with 100MHz HyperSparc modules. A base configuration will come with 32Mb of memory, 1Gb mass storage and a 17 TurboGX colour monitor at a list price of $18,700. Multiprocessor versions are expected sometime down the road. Solaris 1.1.2 is available now in the US. French, German, Italian and Swedish editions will be available in December and versions for Japan, Korea, China and Taiwan in January. Sun plans to start shipping Solaris 2.4 next month.

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