Sunday, March 4, 2012

POWER: Loss of Sony Playstation Platform

[Sony Playstation 3]

POWER: Loss of Sony PlayStation Platform

The Market Leaders:
Sun Microsystems introduced the RISC architecture SPARC in mid 1987. SPARC was registered as trademark of SPARC International, Inc., an organization established in 1989 to promote the SPARC architecture, manage SPARC trademarks, and provide conformance testing. Sun produced their systems on OpenFirmware, releasing it to the IEEE for standardization. SPARC found it's home on workstations, spread to servers, and even to embedded systems such as the Sun Ray in the late 1990's.

[IBM POWER5 Multi-Chip Module]

The Rise of POWER:
IBM produced the POWER architecture, an expensive multi-chip module which provided for outstanding performance at low volumes. Apple, IBM, Motorola, and decided October 2, 1991 to co-develop the POWER platform to expand the ecosystem for RISC processors under the AIM Alliance - to produce a single silicon chip high-volume RISC platform called PowerPC.

The Common Hardware Reference Platform (CHRP) for PowerPC was produced in 1994. CHRP platforms would require IEEE OpenFirmware (created by Sun) in 1995. To expand the POWER ecosystem, the "" site was founded in 2004 by IBM, 15 other companies joined as members, nearly 20 years after SPARC. In 2006, the Sony Playstation released the PlayStation 3, under POWER architecture, expanding POWER into the gaming/entertainment sector.

SPARC Marches On:
In the 2000's, SPARC was no longer being used in the Sun Ray, but multiple vendors continue to produce SPARC processors. SPARC is an open specification, not a proprietary architecture, leaving multiple sources for this RISC processor. To continue to make this point, Sun Microsystems completely open-sourced their UltraSPARC T1 CPU in 2006, making SPARC it freely available for any manufacturer to produce - referring the architecture to OpenSPARC.

Fujitsu releases high-performance 8 core SPARC64 VIIIfx in 2009. The 16 core SPARC T3 was released by SUN/Oracle in 2010. Fujitsu releases another 8 core SPARC64 VII+ in 2010. Russia releases MCST-4R in 2010. Oracle released the 8 core SPARC T4 in 2011. Fujitsu is releasing SPARC64 IXfx in 2012. Oracle is projected to release the SPARC T5 in 2012.

The Decline of IBM POWER:
Apple abandoned PowerPC for Intel in 2006, leaving IBM POWER without a desktop partner. Sony is rumored to discontinue use of IBM POWER for their gaming consoles in the PlayStation 4, starting the decline of POWER in the gaming market. POWER7+ from IBM is now nearly a half-year late and IBM has still not delivered as of March 2012.

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