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SPARC(Scalable Performance ARChitecture) A family of RISC CPUs from Sun that runs mostly under Sun's Solaris, but also under Linux and BSD operating systems. After development began in the mid-1980s by David Patterson of the University of California at Berkeley and Bill Joy of Sun, the first 32-bit SPARC chip was introduced in 1989 in Sun's SPARCstation 1. Prior to SPARC, Sun used Motorola 68K CPUs in its products. In 1995, the 64-bit UltraSPARC line was introduced (see UltraSPARC).
From the outset, Sun made it easy for third parties to make SPARC-compatible computers. In 1989, Sun and Fujitsu founded SPARC International to license the SPARC instruction set at little more than the cost of distributing the specification to member companies. It also provides certification for SPARC compliance. Since its founding, SPARC International members have produced more than two dozen compatible SPARC chips, including servers and set-top boxes.
OpenSPARC - Open Source Hardware
In 2006, Sun made the architecture of the UltraSPARC T1 chip public. By releasing the RTL (circuit design) under the GPL license, the UltraSPARC T1 was the first state-of-the-art hardware to become open source. OpenSPARC projects undertaken include research beyond eight cores and a single threaded implementation for handhelds.
|The First SPARCstation|
|In 1989, Sun introduced the SPARCstation 1, the first Sun computer that used the SPARC chip. The SPARC line has been very successful. (Image courtesy of Sun Microsystems, Inc.)|