Sun Microsystems and Fujitsu are to merge their development efforts for SPARC processors for servers with an eye to winning custom from rival IBM's mainframe market.
The companies will bring together their Solaris and SPARC-based server product lines by mid-2006 to create a 'complete data centre systems family' code-named the Advanced Product Line (APL).
This will replace Sun's current Sun Fire and Fujitsu's Primepower product lines.
"We will be bringing a whole range of low-end, mid-range and high-end products to the market," said Scott McNealy, chairman and chief executive at Sun, during a presentation at the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, California.
McNealy said Sun would use APL primarily to go after IBM's mainframes. But he emphasised that the chip would be used in low-end systems as well.
Both Sun and Fujitsu have been developing and manufacturing their own SPARC processors. Although they both use the same architecture, users cannot swap out a Fujitsu chip for a Sun model.
The APL processor will be based on Fujitsu's current-generation SPARC64 processor.
Sun's current generation of UltraSPARC III and UltraSPARC IV chips will continue to be developed until the APL is ready to go to market in 2006.
The company will also continue to develop its processors code-named 'Niagara' and 'Rock'.
The design of both chips emphasises high throughput computing, targeting low-end systems such as web servers.
The deal allows Sun to focus its development efforts on the Niagara and Rock chips, while Fujitsu can concentrate on the stability and performance required in mainframe-like processors.
The companies said that, during the transition period leading up to the launch of the APL, they would work together to quickly implement arrangements to make each other's current Sun Fire and Primepower product lines available for distribution through both companies.
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