While Sun Microsystems Inc. customers continue to wait for the release of the company's 64-bit UltraSparc III processor, the chip maker on Monday announced that it will begin sampling its UltraSparc IIe embedded 64-bit processor.
Designed to operate in conditions of limited space and low heat, the new embedded processor is the lowest-power chip in the UltraSparc family, and the first to have an on-chip Level 2 cache and PCI bus controller, according to Craig O'Sullivan, a senior product manager for the UltraSparc e-series.
However, like the rest of Sun's UltraSparc family, the new embedded UltraSparc IIe is also equipped with the Sun's VIS (Visual Instruction Set), designed to accelerate multimedia, image processing, and networking applications.
The company sees a future for the processor in embedded network servers used by ISPs, switching and firewall controllers for data communications, and both RAID and file manager controllers in Storage Area Networks, according to O'Sullivan.
Available in November, the UltraSparc IIe will have a one-off cost of US$230 for a 400MHz version, and $357 for a 500MHz chip.
As for continued delays with Sun's UltraSparc III 64-bit processor, O'Sullivan said to expect a system-level announcement concerning the processor in "the not too distant future."
Industry observers anticipate fierce competition in the future 64-bit computing arena between the UltraSparc III, which operates on Palo Alto, Calif.-based Sun's proprietary Solaris operating system, and Santa Clara, Calif.-based Intel's 64-bit Itanium processor, which runs a number of operating systems including Linux, and is already sampling.