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Fujitsu revs faster server chip

New Sparc64 processor is even more significant because of company's alignment with Sun.

Fujitsu said Tuesday it has boosted the speed of its Sparc64 V processor with a new manufacturing process, a move made more significant in light of the Japanese company's server partnership with Sun Microsystems.

Joining forces to compete better against the No. 1 and No. 2 server sellers, IBM and Hewlett-Packard, Sun and Fujitsu agreed to merge their server lines in a deal announced this month. In an early step in the partnership, Sun plans for the first time to sell Fujitsu's Sparc64-based products later this year.

Fujitsu builds the faster Sparc64 V with a manufacturing process that permits features with a size of 90 nanometers, meaning that more circuitry can be squeezed onto a chip built with the earlier 130-nanometer process. The new chips run at 1.89GHz and have 3MB of on-board cache memory, compared with 1.35GHz and 2MB for existing Sparc64 V models.

The new chip won't ship in servers until later in 2004, Fujitsu said. In higher-end systems--the Primepower 900, 1500 and 2500 models--the new chips can be mixed with the older versions.

Fujitsu's next-generation Sparc64 VI chips, which come with sophisticated reliability features, will be used in one product line with anywhere from one to 128 processors, with Sun designing the lower-end models and both companies designing the top-end models, the companies said.

Fujitsu's Primepower machines can run the same software as Sun's machines, including the Solaris version of Unix. But the Sun Fire products, which today use Sun's UltraSparc processor, currently have greater market share.

Although Sun has agreed to incorporate Fujitsu's processors and independently scrapped its own UltraSparc V, it's also keeping some next-generation chips of its own code-named Rock and Niagara. Sun will design these systems and Texas Instruments will manufacture the chips, but both Sun and Fujitsu will sell them, the companies said.

Fujitsu also has a deal to build high-end servers with Itanium processors from Intel, along with IBM and Sun's biggest chipmaking rival.