Sun to discuss next-generation 'Rock' chip

Sun Microsystems is expected to discuss a future high-end processor, code-named Rock, that will combine features of its own designs with technology it acquired from Afara Websystems,

Stephen Shankland principal writer
Stephen Shankland has been a reporter at CNET since 1998 and writes about processors, digital photography, AI, quantum computing, computer science, materials science, supercomputers, drones, browsers, 3D printing, USB, and new computing technology in general. He has a soft spot in his heart for standards groups and I/O interfaces. His first big scoop was about radioactive cat poop.
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Stephen Shankland
Sun Microsystems will discuss a future high-end processor Wednesday, a chip code-named Rock that will combine features of its own designs with technology it acquired from Afara Websystems, sources said.

David Yen, executive vice president of Sun's Processor and Network Products Group, is expected to discuss the new chip at Sun's analyst conference in San Francisco.

Sun has talked about the existence of the chip before, but not disclosed its name or provided many details beyond the projection that it will provide 30 times the performance of a 1.2GHz UltraSparc III.

The Rock chips combine technology from Sun's own MAJC chip with technology from Afara Websystems, which specialized in chips with multiple processor cores on the same slice of silicon, sources said. Sun acquired Afara in 2002.

MAJC didn't succeed in its original intent because it wouldn't run software for its UltraSparc cousins, but the company sold it as a graphics accelerator for workstations and said it also speeds execution of Java programs.

Sun's UltraSparc line competes chiefly with Intel's Itanium and Xeon, IBM's Power and Hewlett-Packard's Precision Architecture. Beginning in 2002, Sun accepted Xeon into the fold, but it's putting more energy into new servers using Advanced Micro Devices' Opteron such as the dual-processor V20z due in April.