Solaris on IBM Power7?

64bit Solaris on PPC spells opportunity - a bandwagon gearing up to go.

Sometimes the dog to watch is the one that doesn't bark. In this case that could be the effort to get Solaris running on 64bit PPC hardware.

Solaris 2.5.1 ran on 32bit PPC, and there are people working on bringing the software forward, but it's one of the less active openSolaris communities.

And that could spell opportunity; if you think you're up to the challenge of contributing to the work, and I don't just mean because it's a chance to work with some of the leading technical brains in the world - the project is sponsored, after all, by Sun labs.

No, the big opportunity here is to get in on the ground floor of one of the next big things, because IBM, AMD, and Sun have made some interesting announcements that bear on this.

What they've said is that AMD's motherboard products -i.e. the successors to the Socket F stuff - will be adapted to work with IBM's Power7 CPUs. Sun hasn't said what it plans, but here's an applicable bit from a report by the register's Ashlee Vance on some related rumours:

 

Our sources have also revealed that Sun Microsystems is in discussions with AMD to pursue a similar plan for its UltraSPARC and UltraSPARC T1 processors.

"We are excited about AMD's common socket initiative because it opens up a whole new set of possibilities in systems design, but we aren't prepared to discuss any specific products using this at this time," said Sun's server chief John Fowler.

As business strategies go, this is beautiful. Everybody wins, AMD gets volume benefits in the short term and a clear route from x86 to PPC in the long term, while IBM gets costs savings, performance gains, and marketable access to cheaper, faster peripherals.

But what would Sun get? Will Andy Bechtolsheim's next generation "intergalactic" servers feature 6Ghz Power7 CPUs running Solaris? I don't know, but the opportunity exists -and Power7 machines running open boot on standard hardware would give Sun an immediate entree to IBM's worldwide OS support markets.

You gotta love it when a plan comes together this well; because even if nobody planned it Solaris on PPC could now be a bandwagon getting ready to gear up -and a correspondingly tremendous opportunity for the open source community to get on board early.