Marvel licencing deal debut for Sun's new unit

Marvel licencing deal debut for Sun's new unit

Sun Microsystems is licencing its multithreaded 10GB Ethernet networking technology to Marvell Technology Group in Sun's first deal since the recent creation of a separate Microelectronics group within the company.

Marvell, a fabless semiconductor firm focused on the consumer, communications and storage sectors, will build and sell high-performance networking products that will make the most of the performance capabilities of Sun's multithreaded processors, David Yen, executive vice president of the Microelectronics unit, said on Tuesday.

Sun's multithreaded design makes it possible for a processor to perform more tasks simultaneously. But 10GB Ethernet networks not configured for multithreaded processors create a data bottleneck, Yen said.

"Today, there is more internet-based throughput demand. That's the nature of the workload. There is a new breed of multicore processors available to do that, but one thing that is missing is the network interface," he said.

Sun, under Project Neptune, has been developing network interface cards (NIC) and application-specific integrated circuits(ASIC) that optimise the capability of multithreaded processors. Under the licencing agreement, Marvell will use that technology to develop its own NIC and ASIC products, said Marvell spokeswoman Diane Vanasse. Also, Marvell will build specific products for Sun using this technology.

Although the Sun-Marvell deal has been in development for some time, it is the first agreement announced since Sun's new Microelectronics group was announced last Tuesday. The group will licence Sun technology to other firms.

Faster throughput is needed to optimise the benefits of virtualisation, said Raju Penumatcha, vice president of Netra System and Networking at Sun. Netra is a line of Sun servers used in telecommunications. As data centres combine workloads onto fewer and fewer servers, they will need faster connections to networks to move data processed in a virtualised environment.

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