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Sun, NVidia Forge Graphics Pact

Sun Microsystems will continue to enhance and develop its workstations with nVidia graphics processors, the company said Tuesday.

The partnership extends the current relationship between the two Silicon Valley-based firms to now include Solaris in addition to supporting Sun's Linux and Windows workstations. Financial terms of the pact were not disclosed, but nVidia said it now has greater access to the industry ecosystem needed to extend its reach with Sun products by its side.

Sun also has relationships with ATI and Creative Technology's 3D Labs for its UltraSPARC-based workstations. nVidia's graphics processing units, or GPUs , are also found in workstations made by IBM, HP and SGI.

"Together, Sun and nVidia will target customers in graphics and compute-intensive markets such as Oil & Gas, Life Sciences, Defense, CAD/CAM, EDA, Financial Services, Professional Digital Content Creation and Software Engineering," the companies said in a statement.

The next step, according to the companies, is to tune and optimize nVidia's architecture with the OpenGL implementation for Solaris on x86 and come up with an open, standards-based development environment.

The fruits of the expanded relationship were revealed earlier this summer, as Sun pared nVidia's graphics hardware with the AMD Opteron and Sun's Java Workstations for its W1100z and W2100z workstations. Sun currently offers a complement of nVidia chips for its Sun Java Workstations, including NVidia's Quadro FX 4000 for extreme 3D, the Quadro FX 3000 for high-end 3D systems, the Quadro FX 1100 for mid-range 3D workstations all the way down to its entry-level 3D Quadro FX 500 and its 2D professional grade Quadro NVS 280.

With 27.2GB/sec of memory bandwidth, nVidia said its Quadro FX 3000 would be a good fit for Sun workstations with its ultra-large texture performance and high-resolution, 16X full-scene antialiasing. Single-system "powerwall" support lets users digitally specify overlap and blending for two images projected onto a large surface, even from inexpensive projectors.