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Chip Design Authors: Jason Bloomberg, Trevor Bradley, David Strom

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Chip Design: Article

Sun Reveals Open Source Plans for Niagara Chip

Project OpenSparc To Address UltraSparc T1 Microprocessor

While it was busy launching its new Niagara-based servers in New York Tuesday, Sun Microsystems said it would open source the UltraSparc T1 processor that was code named Niagara. It's calling the project OpenSparc.

At this point it's more a statement of intent than a fait accompli. The program isn't supposed to kick off until late in the first quarter after Sun addresses key issues such as implementation and governance.

Back in 1999 Sun released its complete MicroSparc IIep design for free under the Community Source License, also used for Java to try to make its chip designs more popular. Companies that used and sold the embedded chip were supposed to pay Sun 3% of the average selling price by way of royalty but would have saved hundreds of thousands in licensing fees.

Again Sun it apparently hopeful of triggering a few derivatives. It claims the idea behind OpenSparc is to create a following for the new low-end/low-power eight core/32-thread processor. It talks of the community "spurring innovation for massively threaded systems and system-on-a-chip design" at a markedly lower cost.

Sun CEO Scott McNealy is reportedly harboring this notion of a bunch of companies working on Niagara that he would then acquire like he did Alfara Websystems, which brought Sun the Niagara multi-core design in the first place. He referred to it as "hardware source code."

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Enterprise Open Source News Desk trawls the fast-growing world of Professional Open Source for business-relevant items of news, opinion, and insight.

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EOS Magazine News Desk 12/10/05 02:59:55 AM EST

Simon Phipps, Sun's Chief Open Source Officer, imagines a 'co-operating community' working as with Jini, each 'doing their own thing with a common baseline and then contributing back innovations and fixes based on their experience,' according to reports.

EOS Magazine News Desk 12/10/05 02:13:43 AM EST

Simon Phipps, Sun's Chief Open Source Officer, imagines a 'co-operating community' working as with Jini, each 'doing their own thing with a common baseline and then contributing back innovations and fixes based on their experience,' according to reports.