Sun Opens Up UltraSPARC Chip Design

Sun said Tuesday that it plans to open up the processor design of its UltraSPARC T1 Processor under the terms of the GNU GPL open source license. The move is aimed at creating an ecosystem around the technology and regain lost ground ceded to Sun's competitors.

The UltraSPARC T1 processor has eight cores, which can run up to four simultaneous processes.

The chip design would be called "OpenSPARC T1" and would be available at no charge. Sun said it was the first time that a complex hardware design had been released under the GPL, and will fufill a commitment to use the open source license made by the company in January.

From this, developers are expected to gain needed knowledge to create hardware, software, tools and other applications, the company said.

"Sun is using open standards and the creation of a rich CMT community to foster innovation and maintain our multi-year lead over competitors in delivering multi-threaded systems to customers," Sun Scalable Systems executive vice president David Yen said.

Companies and organizations such as Aurora VLSI, Aldec, Synopsys, World 45 Ltd., SimplyRISC, Time-to-Market and the University of California, Santa Cruz are the first to support the OpenSPARC initiative.

SimplyRISC is creating a single-core version of the chip for use in embedded devices from the documentation and designs provided. "This levels the playing field for us immensely and we are really looking forward to participating in the OpenSPARC community," SimplyRISC director Fabrizio Fazzino said.

The designs and documentations are being made available from opensparc.net, Sun said.

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