October 16, 2006
Computer engineer Jose Renau to serve on
OpenSPARC advisory board
By Tim Stephens
Jose Renau, assistant professor of computer engineering, has
been appointed to serve on the OpenSPARC community advisory
board created by Sun Microsystems to provide oversight for the
The OpenSPARC initiative began earlier this year when Sun released
the underlying design of its UltraSparc T1 processor (also known
as "Niagara") under the terms of a General Public
License (GPL). The move extends to chip design the basic concept
of open-source software, which makes the underlying source code
for a software program freely available so that other software
developers can modify and improve the program.
"This is the first time a major company has made the code
for the design of their chips available under a GPL license,"
Renau said. "Releasing the code for a processor is substantially
different from software releases, so Sun has set up the community
advisory board to establish the rules for how OpenSPARC will
The five charter members of the advisory board include two
from Sun and three from outside the company. In addition to
Renau, they are Nathan Brockwood, principal analyst at Insight64;
Robert Ober, a fellow in the CTO Office at LSI Logic; and David
Weaver, UltraSparc architect, and Simon Phipps, chief open source
officer, from Sun.
Sun computers using the UltraSparc T1 chip are used as Internet
servers and in other applications that demand high-speed processing
of many jobs in parallel. Since the release of OpenSPARC, one
company has announced plans to make a modified version of the
chip for embedded computers in consumer products.
"Sun's release of OpenSPARC has resulted in new opportunities.
If this is successful, we may see similar programs from other
companies in the future," Renau said.