SPARC Product DirectorySM

the most complete guide to SPARC® based systems and suppliers

free information from

Primary Sources of Information

In this section we describe the primary sources of information about SPARC compatible products and and include links to their web sites. This list excludes magazines and User Groups.

SPARC International, Inc -

SPARC International was incorporated February 9, 1989. SPARC International promotes the design, development and application of SPARC to computer and peripheral products; establishes hardware and software standards; enables compatibility across SPARC-branded products; and provides, promotes and protects SPARC and SPARC-related brand names.

The SI website is a good place to look for SPARC compatible hardware products and suppliers. The site includes product information, and supplier profiles for over 100 Companies which are SI Members. If you're looking for 3rd party add-in RAM for your SPARC based computers, the SI site is the best place to look. The SCD (SPARC Compliance Definition) is your assurance that products have been verified compatible within the widest range of SPARC platforms..

SI's SPARCshop includes technical documents and market guides which can be ordered on-line. These guides include ACSL's SPARC Product Directory.

SPARC-FLASH Electronic Newsletter. The SPARC-FLASH newsletter, published monthly, is distributed to all SI members as well as other readers active in the SPARC community, including the Sun User's Group. The newsletter covers major areas of SPARC technologies, including product, member and general news, Association updates, committee highlights, and updated listing of certified and verified products. Details of how to subscribe are on the SI website.

SunSoft Catalyst -

The Catalyst publication predates the introduction of SPARC technology, and was set up by Sun Microsystems in 1983 (in the USA, and 1985 in Europe) to help people locate 3rd party software and hardware products compatible with Sun's computer family. Over the years, this has included Sun computers based on Motorola (680X0), Intel (386) and eventually SPARC processor architectures. In the early days, when Sun was a much smaller company than it is today, the size of the Catalyst program helped to create confidence in users that here was a technology (Sun-OS, now Solaris) with a lot of 3rd party support. This also made it easier for Sun's partners to sell more products. Today Solaris runs on SPARC, Intel's X86 and Pentium, and Power PC, and you can locate compatible software products using this source.

Catalyst was originally shipped as a printed book. The last edition of the printed book (published in 1994) included references to more than 8,500 Solaris compatible products. With a length of 1,785 pages and shipping weight of nearly 3Kg (7 lb) - Sun decided to replace the book with an electronic form of distribution. The first electronic distribution was on CD-ROM, however, Sun has created a web site to include this information which is supported by an easy to use search engine.

Catalyst is indisputably the largest single source of information which can help you locate Solaris products and suppliers, however, the quality and accuracy of the information should be treated with caution. The main problems are: new products which aren't in it, and obsolete products which have not been removed.

SunFlash and Flashback -

These two publications are available via email,and they can also be viewed via the world wide web. The web site gives details of how to subscribe to these services.

SunFlash is an email newsletter which Sun Microsystems uses to distribute new product and business announcements. It started in December 1988, and is also known as the Florida Sunflash.

FlashBack is an email newsletter, similar in concept to SunFlash. (FlashBack's information service started in September 1994.) The main difference between SunFlash and FlashBack is that FlashBack's editorial and news content mainly covers 3rd party companies which operate in the Sun market, rather than being just about Sun itself. FlashBack, Inc (which includes the editor and publisher of the original SunFlash) started promoting independent marketing services in the summer of 1995.

FlashBack, Inc continues to distribute SunFlash, and also provides bulk delivery of email for various vendors, and newsletters as a marketing service.

From an information viewpoint, these publications provide an overview of all aspects of the Sun market, and the information is usually more up to date than you'll find in printed magazines. Sometimes you'll find announcements in here from other publishers (including ACSL) so we certainly recommend you take a look, although it's easy to get swamped by the volume of announcements.

SPARC Product Directory -

The SPARC Product Directory is the new name (March 1996) for the SBus Product Directory which was first published in early 1992 by ACSL. The directory is intended to help people locate new products and suppliers. The scope of the directory is SPARC based computers, SBus cards and suppliers. It also includes information about other subjects which can help you track down a new product or supplier.

The first edition of the book (Q1 1992) included 140 pages and all the products from about 75 suppliers. After 5 years, and 30 editions, the book has grown to 270 pages and has included hundreds of oem's. ACSL actively researches the SPARC systems market, and the directory is generally regarded as the best source of information about this subject. It's recommended by Sun Microsystems, SPARC International and other leading oem's. Customers include SPARC oem's, Sun Resellers, software vendors and end-users throughout the world. The directory costs $95 including airmail delivery.

ACSL's business is researching the SPARC systems market and supplying marketing data. The SPARCproductDIRectory web site includes only a very small percentage of the references and information that you can find in the book.

VITA (VME Industry Trade Association) -

VITA is the industry body set up in the early 1980's to develop open systems standards around the VMEbus. As one of the pioneers of Open Systems standards, VITA, by its example influenced many later organizations and publications. For example ACSL's SBus Product Directory, was originally conceived as meeting the same needs within the SPARC market that the VMEbus Product Directory meets within the wider architectural framework of VMEbus systems.

Although today, the VMEbus is only used in small percentage of SPARC systems (mainly in embedded applications) many of the companies which make VMEbus cards also make cards for other busses, such as SBus, PCI, EISA etc. Therefore when you are looking for a new supplier for a specialised function, or want to keep up with the latest developments in high speed hardware technology a quick scan through the VITA documents can help you quickly locate many of the leading players. Many new technologies make their first appearance in the context of VME systems.

See also User groups.


SPARC(R) is a registered trademark of SPARC International, Inc.

SPARC PRODUCT DIRECTORY(SM) is a service mark of SPARC International, Inc used under license by ACSL. Products using the SPARC trademarks are based on an architecture developed by Sun Microsystems, Inc.