R.I.P. SPARC and Solaris

Oracle’s latest round of layoffs marks the end of Sun’s SPARC and Solaris

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tombstones for SPARC and Solaris
Illustration: IEEE Spectrum; Tombstone: iStockphoto

Oracle is laying off 983 employees at its Santa Clara facility, according to a notice filed with the California Employment Development Department and reported in the San Jose Mercury News, with 615 of those involved in hardware development. The cuts are essentially falling on teams working on the company’s SPARC processor and Solaris operating system, two technologies Oracle picked up when it acquired Sun Microsystems in 2010. This follows layoffs of about 450 from those groups earlier this year.

According to comments on thelayoff.com, “SPARC people are out.” “The entire SPARC core team has been let go as of Friday. It’s gone. No more SPARC. You can’t have a SPARC w/o a team to develop the core.”

The SPARC processor, developed in the mid-1980s, one of the first microprocessors to use the then-novel reduced-instruction-set computing (RISC) approach. The SPARC workstation, based on that processor, was a rogue project spearheaded by Andy Bechtolsheim; it came out in 1989 and became Sun’s best-selling product.

The company is cutting other hardware-related positions in the U.S. and around the world, for a total of 2,500 employees terminated. Just a week ago Oracle announced plans to hire 5,000 engineers, sales, and support people for its cloud computing business, a churn that other tech companies tend to refer to as “workforce rebalancing,” to the frustration of those “rebalanced.” Oracle hasn’t commented officially about any of these actions.

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