Sun works towards higher-density chips

Sun Microsystems chief technology officer has warned that "big" processors such as Sun's Sparc, IBM's Power 4, and Intel's...

Sun Microsystems chief technology officer has warned that "big" processors such as Sun's Sparc, IBM's Power 4, and Intel's Itanium architectures would need the help of smaller, higher-density chips for specific functions, such as throughput and storage. These are needed to move data across more efficiently.

"Chip architectures must change to accommodate this 'optical server' kind of environment. These [smaller, higher-density chips] aren't so big and bad but they are much more cost effective to produce. We are working very aggressively in this area," Greg Papadopoulos said.

In June, Sun acquired a small chip design startup, Afara Websystems, which had been working on a Sparc-compatible processor designed to increase Internet data transfer speeds.

Papadopoulos would not indicate specifically how Sun might integrate Afara's 64-bit technology with its Sparc processors, but said it would be done over the short term.

In a press briefing outlining some of his technology visions, Papadopoulos said Sun is also pursuing is radio frequency identification which, he believed, would significantly boost users' interest in e-commerce even further.

The technology can track individual items as part of a very large shipment in transit accurately, and can help vendors track usage of the products once they have arrived at a user's facility. It can even alert both the user and the vendor when an item needs repair or replacement, Papadopoulos claimed.

Sun is also working on implementing RF identification technologies into some of its core products, although Papadopoulos would not say when those would be available.

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