Uncommon Wisdom

Mar 31 2009   1:52PM GMT

Intel’s Nehalem chip and the Sun/IBM dynamic

Tom Nolle Tom Nolle Profile: Tom Nolle

Sun’s relationship with Intel on the new generation of processors may bear fruit with Solaris support for the Intel “Nehalem” chip family. In fact, Solaris may have the first and best support for the new processor.

Sun is hoping that better support for the new multi-core chips with special power management capability will give it an edge in the server space, but of course the question of an IBM Sun acquisition still hangs over the vendor. So does the fact that the Intel chip competes with Sun’s own Sparc line.

Users aren’t concerned about the IBM deal; they feel that Sun under IBM would be an even stronger partner. The Intel Nehalem affinity for Solaris and an IBM Sun acquisition might put Linux under more pressure. IBM has been a Linux backer but might be less active should it have its own open-source UNIX-compatible OS.

The Nehalem chip is one of the most advanced and fastest available, outperforming (says Intel) both IBM and Sun/Sparc by a large margin and providing unparalleled power management, I/O handling, and virtualization support. The new chip (Xeon 5500 is the current instantiation) is already launching a major flush of new servers from IBM, Dell, and HP.

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