Sun Can Kill Rock, but Not Its Memory Tech

Sun's Rock processor is probably dead, but the technology behind it, transactional memory, lives on at competitors

2 min read

23 June 2009—According to two unnamed sources cited by The New York Times last week, Sun Microsystems has canceled its next-generation Rock microprocessor—a chip that, as IEEE Spectrum had previously reported, was scheduled to be released later this year.

If true, the cancellation would be a setback in the development of a performance-enhancing technology that acts as a traffic cop for a computer’s memory. ”Transactional memory,” or TM for short, polices simultaneously running sets of instructions in different processor cores that might otherwise overwrite one another’s work. TM’s proponents say the technology could better streamline code that runs on chips packed with more and more processor cores.

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The Ultimate Transistor Timeline

The transistor’s amazing evolution from point contacts to quantum tunnels

1 min read
A chart showing the timeline of when a transistor was invented and when it was commercialized.

Even as the initial sales receipts for the first transistors to hit the market were being tallied up in 1948, the next generation of transistors had already been invented (see “The First Transistor and How it Worked.”) Since then, engineers have reinvented the transistor over and over again, raiding condensed-matter physics for anything that might offer even the possibility of turning a small signal into a larger one.

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