Sun Microsystem's SPARC Microprocessor
Definition: SPARC, derived from Scalable Processor ARChitecture, is a
SPARC International Inc trademark for a
Sun Microsystems computer processor. It is a RISC based
SPARC (Scalable Processor ARChitecture) processors can be found in computers ranging from
notebooks like the SPARCbook from Tadpole, to supercomputers like the Enterprise
Sun and Fujitsu. These RISC-based processors run operating systems like Solaris, OpenBSD and NetBSD.
SPARC processors were originally developed in the mid 1980s by Sun Microsystems. SPARC processors were originally used for single processor
machines before their eventual mainstay - the
or multi-processor machines.
The scalable processor architecture went
on to become the leading platform for high-end server applications.
Sun is the biggest user of
these processors and it also sells SPARC based processors and motherboards to other systems OEMs. The
processors are not made by Sun. They are manufactured by other semiconductor companies
The intellectual property rights in SPARC (architecture) were transferred to SPARC International, Inc, which was set up in 1989
to handle various SPARC related intellectual properties.
It is an independent non-profit organization that promotes the SPARC architecture
and maintains standards, compatibility and interoperability and it regulates licensing of
The SPARC architecture is fully open and non-proprietary. It is open to all manufacturers of
components and systems, as well as software developers, who are interested in developing SPARC
systems. It has been licensed to many manufacturers, including Texas Instruments, Cypress
Semiconductor and Fujitsu.
Web servers from Sun, based on SPARC processors had the highest market share before the
dotcom bust. Most of Sun’s revenue still comes from selling SPARC-based servers,
but the company has lost market share to IBM and others, in the Unix server
This is the first processor that was both
multithreaded however, it's a single processor implementation and future
versions of this processor may allow the use of multiple processors within one
Also called Niagara 2 is a successor to the above T1 and was released in 2007. A
later version called UltraSPARC T2 Plus followed in 2008