Stromasys demos its app futures at VMworld
September 18, 2017
One of the last vendor chipsets from industry giants now has its future set, a tomorrow where apps need someplace to live. Oracle's not exempt from closing down its Sun workstation and server line. A recent announcement from Oracle introduces the beginning of the end of the Sun SPARC processors. HP turned off development of its PA-RISC chipset in 2008. The vaunted Itanium chips have now received their last generation, Kittson. What follows these announcements is always the end of the line for the hardware running them. Customers determine how long they'll go forward with vendor hardware.
Stromasys made its annual trip to VMworld to show off its solution for two of these solutions. Charon for PA-RISC has been saving MPE/iX applications from hardware obsolescence since 2012. The company's VMware demonstration covered the solution that steps in for the SPARC end of life. As in its demos for the 3000's chipset emulation, the SPARC solution at VMware ran on a laptop.
The company's product manager Dave Clements was interviewed at the show about the overall capabilities of the product line. Stromasys started its lineup emulating DEC processors, moved to HP's PA-RISC, then added Sun's SPARC not long afterward. Alpha chips are also emulated using Charon.
System vendors who relied on these specialized chips have become rare. It's true: Apple's newest iPhone 8 coming out on Friday uses an A11 processor, built by the phone's vendor. In the enterprise computing arena, only IBM sticks to a proprietary chip. The Series i continues to use the POWER chipset. No one can be certain for how long. Last spring, IBM rolled out a roadmap that would take POWER beyond the year 2020. IBM is the last vendor to commit to its chipset for that period of time. like HP Enterprise, uses other chips. Any industry-standard chip could only power the Series i apps through some kind of emulation.
HP and Intel once had sweeping plans for Itanium. For a time in the 1990s, the chip was supposed to take over for x86 architecture. Then technical realities set in, followed by market rules. Apps that used the x86 software was too different from programs designed for PA-RISC. HP and a handful of other system vendors could not sell enough to make those dreams of market domination a reality. Finally, Microsoft dropped Itanium support five years ago.
When dreams fail, there's emulation here in 2017. The x86 foundation has been with the industry since the 1980s. It powers solutions like Charon, long after the SPARCs, Itaniums and PA-RISCs have left the field.
There's nothing announced yet for Itanium emulation. But there's little doubt which company would be first in line to build it.