Sun reportedly cancels 16-core Rock processors

Sun promised chip would bring 'golden age of effortless parallel programming'

Sun is reportedly canceling its long-awaited Rock project, a 16-core server chip that was expected to be delivered later this year.

According to New York Times technology blogger Ashlee Vance, the five-year project was plagued by delays and various glitches, and was given an "unceremonious end" at Sun, which is being acquired by Oracle for US$7.4 billion.

Just three months ago, Sun executive John Fowler said the Rock processor was on track for delivery in the fall, after suffering a one-year delay.

"The processor is in various stages of debug. We're getting close [to release]," Fowler told the IDG News Service in March.

Rock would have doubled the core count over Sun's fastest processor, the eight-core UltraSparc T2, and been used in high-end servers for data-intensive applications.

Two anonymous sources briefed on Sun's plans confirmed that the project has been canceled, according to the Times. A Sun spokeswoman contacted by Network World said the company has no comment on the Rock project's reported cancelation.At one time, Sun officials loved discussing the processor. In April 2007, Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz wrote in his blog that "We just got the first silicon for our Rock systems - you have no idea how cool it is to have this arrive on my desk in a plastic sandwich bag."

The blog featured a photo of the Rock processor, which had a Sun logo, some serial numbers and the label "UltraSPARC RK.""The chips are running billions of instructions already," Schwartz blogged, promising that Rock "heralds the golden age of effortless parallel programming" and "brings fault tolerance to the masses."

Schwartz is slated to receive a US$12 million severance package once Oracle's expected acquisition of Sun is completed. Sun shareholders will vote July 16 on whether to accept Oracle's $7.4 billion offer to buy the company.

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Jon Brodkin

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