Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL) just pulled the veil of secrecy off its newest semiconductor product. Codenamed Rainbow Falls and designed for massively parallel workloads like virtual server farms or huge databases, the new SPARC T3 chip will power a slew of Solaris-tinged servers.

It's great to see this highly specialized chip make it to market after Oracle bought its inventor, Sun Microsystems. The occasion is made all the more bittersweet by the fact that it might be the last SPARC chip we ever see.

When Oracle courted Sun, it made solemn promises to regulators and shareholders not to kill the parts of Sun it didn't really want. This product bears out that promise in a big way, and also squeezes some value out of what would otherwise be discontinued research. And the company does its best to point out how the chip fits into the larger Oracle picture: "The SPARC T3 systems running Oracle Solaris and Oracle VM for SPARC, and tightly integrated with Oracle Database, Oracle Fusion Middleware and Oracle Applications, deliver highly optimized system performance, efficiency and scalability for customers running mission-critical applications."

But that flowery talk is not enough to convince me that Oracle really is committed to selling SPARC chips. Commodity server chips from Intel (Nasdaq: INTC) and Advanced Micro Devices (NYSE: AMD) have arguably passed SPARC in performance and value for the investment, except for some extremely niche use cases. Even then, you can probably outperform or at least stay close to a SPARC server by cobbling together a handful of Intel or AMD chips, and even ARM Holdings (Nasdaq: ARMH) is casting bedroom eyes on the server space these days. All of these alternatives have very reasonable value profiles in terms of performance, power draw, and cooling needs. Commodity chips have caught up with Sun -- sorry, with Oracle.

Why spend the resources to develop proprietary chips with limited real-world advantages when you can just buy processors off the shelf and build similar systems? I don't see this product line going much further than what we see today. IBM (NYSE: IBM) will soon be the only server vendor that insists on using homegrown chips.

Do you think Oracle should stay committed to SPARC, or has the Sun product reached the end of the line? Discuss in the comments below.

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