AT&T and Sun Microsystems Unveil Plans For A Computer Platform That Will Be Unsurpassed In Its Ability To Protect Customers' Software Investments

New York -- Oct. 19, 1987 -- PRNewswire -- AT&T and Sun Microsystems, Inc., today unveiled plans for a computer platform that will be unsurpassed in its ability to protect customers' software investments, while allowing them to take full advantage of technological innovation.

"This is the wave of the future," said Vittorio Cassoni, president of AT&T's Data Systems Group. "We expect this platform to become a major computing environment for the 1990's and beyond."

The new platform will use a unified version of AT&T's UNIX(R) System V, as well as Sun's recently announced Scaleable Processor Architecture (SPARC(a)), a flexible microprocessor design for chips that use reduced instruction-set computing (RISC) technology. It will include a standard interface, known as an application binary interface, or ABI, which will run UNIX system software programs as interchangeably as personal computers run PC software today.

"Customers are demanding freedom of choice and easy access to new technology -- needs that only the UNIX system can meet," said Cassoni. "That is why AT&T is making a concerted effort to consolidate the UNIX system market."

UNIX System V for the new platform will incorporate popular features of the Berkeley 4.2 system, a derivative of the UNIX system used widely in scientific and engineering markets, as well as features of SunOS(a), a variant of the Berkeley 4.2 system marketed by Sun. These features include networking and graphics features, such as the Network File System (NFS(a)) and X.11/NeWS(a), a graphic user interface.

Earlier this year, AT&T and Microsoft Corporation agreed to incorporate the features of Microsoft's XENIX(b) into UNIX System V.

"Our agreement with Microsoft solidified the UNIX system market for computers that use the Intel 80386 microprocessor, just as today's agreement defines the UNIX system market for RISC computers," said Cassoni.

"It's clear that the next generation of computers will be based on RISC technology," said Scott McNealy, president and chief executive officer of Sun Microsystems. "The safest investments today are computers based on the UNIX system. The UNIX system is the only environment that can ride the technology curve to RISC.

"The SPARC architecture is capturing widespread interest in the industry," said McNealy. "With UNIX System V and the ABI, SPARC systems will give customers a powerful, open alternative to the proprietary computing environments that, in effect, discourage innovation and growth."

The SPARC architecture is gaining acceptance among RISC chip manufacturers, since it can be transferred, or scaled, easily to new, more powerful semiconductor technologies. SPARC technology already has been licensed to Fujitsu Microelectronics Inc., Cypress Semiconductor Corp. and Bipolar Integrated Technology, Inc., for manufacture.

Sun markets the Sun-4(a) supercomputing workstation, which is based on a SPARC implementation from Fujitsu.

"AT&T will add SPARC-based computers to its product line," Cassoni said. "And since our 3B computers and 6386 WorkGroup Systems are based on UNIX System V, our customers who require high-performance computers will be able to migrate easily to SPARC-RISC technology while protecting their current and future investments in 3B and 6386 software and system training."

The new platform will be created in phases. By mid- 1988, Sun will make available a version of SunOS that will conform to AT&T's System V Interface Definition. In 1989, AT&T will offer UNIX System V incorporatng key Berkeley 4.2 system and SunOS features. AT&T, with Sun and others in the industry, then will continue to develop the technology to be incorporated into the UNIX system to meet the market needs of the 1990's.

AT&T and Sun will offer the new platform in their product lines. In addition, AT&T will license the software technology and Sun will license the SPARC architecture to other manufacturers.

/NOTE TO EDITORS: (a) Trademark of Sun Microsystems, Inc. (b)Trademark of Microsoft Corporation./

/CONTACT: Lenora Vesio of AT&T, 212-605-6760, or home, 201-526-3686, or Carol Broadbent of Sun Microsystems, 415-691-7737/

Copyright PR Newswire 1987 wire