Sun has been developing its own high-end Sparc processors for decades, but recently the clients started to withdraw from Sun’s proprietary chips and adopt industry-standard components, namely Intel Xeon and AMD Opteron. After canceling certain Sparc-related projects, Sun says that it will help AMD to design the Opteron.
“Over time, more intimate cooperation inside the processor chip will definitely happen. Participating on the development of the Opteron processor itself is a natural evolution of the relationship between the two,” said David Yen, executive vice president of the scalable systems group at Sun, CNET News.com reports.
Sun Microsystems already participated in the HyperTransport consortium, an industry body that develops the point-to-point bus used by AMD Opteron and AMD Athlon 64 processors. Furthermore, Sun sells servers powered by central processing units by Advanced Micro Devices.
AMD itself so far did not confirm or deny that it seeks for collaboration with anyone in terms of development of its AMD Opteron product. However, during the last decade AMD used a number of technologies developed outside the company with the K7 and K8 generations of microprocessors that brought massive success to AMD: in particular, the K7 architecture was developed by a team from Digital, furthermore K7’s EV-6 bus was fully developed at Digital. The corner-stones of the K7 architecture may still be found in the current K8. Manufacturing processes of AMD are co-developed with IBM and other industry partners, such as Chartered.
In case Sun helps the development of the chip, the final server product may receive some very tangible upgrade over the current generation, as Sun has a lot of technology expertise in the development of server processors. It remains to be seen whether AMD desktop processors also implement Sun’s technologies.
Next year AMD plans to incorporate DDR2 memory controller as well as virtualization and security capabilities into its processors, whereas in 2007 the company aims to unwrap its quad-core central processing units for servers.
“AMD has a collaborative relationship with Sun, but we have not disclosed any details on any specific projects,” a company spokeswoman is reported to have said.