Sun to launch compilers for Solaris 9

Sun Microsystems on Wednesday will ship its Sun ONE (Open Net Environment) Studio 7, Compiler Collection, which is optimized for the new Solaris 9 operating environment and Web services.

The compilers support the C, C++, and Fortran languages and feature a new licensing scheme.

Built for the Sparc hardware architecture and equipped with command-line Unix interfaces, the compilers offer a 22 percent performance increase over previous versions, the company said. Support for multiple languages underscores Sun's commitment to multi-language support in Web services architectures, according to Sun.

The command-line functionality comes in response to developers who said they did not need a more costly graphical, interactive development environment, said Peter Young, Sun vice president and general manager of Sun ONE Studio Tools, in Burlington, Massachusetts.

"A lot of the Unix gurus said, 'We don't need an IDE [integrated development environment], just give us the native tools,'" Young said.

The compiler collection costs US$995, while an IDE featuring the compilers is due next month for approximately $2,000.

To enable Web services support, the compilers support Sun's "native connector architecture," in which Solaris binaries can be wrapped in Java code and exposed as EJB (Enterprise JavaBeans), for deployment as Web services, Young said.

With the compilers, Sun is replacing its "node block licensing" format, which would have prevented the deployment of the product for more developers than were licensed. The new scheme simply uses software serial numbers to determine when licensing limits are being exceeded and notifies the user but does not block out additional developers, Young said.

Despite the opportunity for abuse of such a system, Sun is not deterred.

"It's an honor system. What we've discovered was most of the companies we were talking to were exceedingly honest" and purchased the additional licenses, Young said.

An early user of the C compiler said it offered performance gains. "We used it, and basically it got our code running measurably faster not only on the Sparc 3 but also on the Sparc 2" platforms, said Clarke Thacher, senior software manager at SAS Institute in Cary, N.C. SAS has used the compilers to develop business intelligence and data mining applications.

Performance of multi-threaded applications running on Solaris 9 is boosted by the compilers, Sun said.

"You'll see fairly substantive performance improvements there," Young said.

Additionally, "interval arithmetic," which enables developers to move beyond limitations of the traditional floating point model, is improved in the new release.

An interactive debugger in the package improves application quality and has features such as Runtime Error Checking to assist developers in finding hard-to-find bugs during the development cycle.

The compilers are part of the Sun ONE platform. Other features of the compilers include the following:

-- Choice of binary-compatible default or STLport standard Library with C++. STLport is a common standard template library now natively supported in the compilers.

-- OpenMP C++ v1.0 API support, for writing highly parallel C++ applications without having to write explicit threading calls.

-- OpenMP Fortran 2.0 API support, for use of Fortran 90 array syntax.

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