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Sequent Computer Systems, or Sequent, was a computer company that designed and manufactured multiprocessing computer systems. They were among the pioneers in high-performance symmetric multiprocessing (SMP) open systems, innovating in both hardware (e.g. cache management and interrupt handling) and software (e.g. read-copy-update). Image File history File links Download high resolution version (740x900, 116 KB) Summary Logo for Sequent Computer Systems Licensing File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Multiprocessing is traditionally known as the use of multiple concurrent processes in a system as opposed to a single process at any one instant. ... A computer system consists of a set of hardware and software which processes data in a meaningful way. ... Symmetric Multiprocessing, or SMP, is a multiprocessor computer architecture where two or more identical processors are connected to a single shared main memory. ... Jump to: navigation, search Open systems are computer systems that provide either interoperability, portability, or freedom from proprietary standards, depending on your perspective. ... Jump to: navigation, search In computer science, a cache (pronounced kăsh) is a collection of data duplicating original values stored elsewhere or computed earlier, where the original data are expensive (usually in terms of access time) to fetch or compute relative to reading the cache. ... In computer science, an interrupt is a signal from a device which typically results in a context switch: that is, the processor sets aside what its doing and does something else. ... Read-copy-update is an operating system kernel technology for improving performance on computers with more than one CPU. The basic idea is as follows. ...


Through a close partnership with Oracle Corporation that included the introduction of hardware and software optimizations, Sequent became a dominant high-end UNIX platform in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Later, after several corporate missteps, they returned to their roots, producing a next-generation high-end platform for UNIX and Windows NT based on a non-uniform memory access architecture, NUMA-Q. Jump to: navigation, search Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ: ORCL), one of the major companies developing database management systems, tools for database development, and enterprise resource planning software, dates from 1977 and has offices in more than 145 countries around the world. ... Jump to: navigation, search It has been suggested that List of Unixes be merged into this article or section. ... Jump to: navigation, search // Events and trends The 1980s marked an abrupt shift towards more conservative lifestyles after the momentous cultural revolutions which took place in the 1960s and 1970s and the definition of the AIDS virus in 1981. ... Jump to: navigation, search // Events and trends The 1990s are generally classified as having moved slightly away from the more conservative 1980s, but otherwise retaining the same mindset. ... Jump to: navigation, search Windows NT is a family of operating systems produced by Microsoft, and was succeeded by Windows 2000 (still based on Windows NT). ... Non-Uniform Memory Access or Non-Uniform Memory Architecture (NUMA) is a computer memory architecture, used in multiprocessors, where the memory access time depends on the memory location. ...


As hardware prices fell in the late 1990s Sequent found their market shrinking, and eventually they were purchased by IBM in 1999. Jump to: navigation, search International Business Machines Corporation (IBM, or colloquially, Big Blue) NYSE: IBM (incorporated June 15, 1911, in operation since 1888) is headquartered in Armonk, NY, USA. The company manufactures and sells computer hardware, software, and services. ...


The death knell for NUMA-Q and Sequent technology was sounded when in 2002, two layoffs at Sequent's former headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon ended all development on the systems for which IBM had acquired the company. According to a May 30, 2002 article in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) entitled "Sequent Deal Serves Hard Lesson for IBM": Jump to: navigation, search 2002(MMII) is a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Beaverton is a city located in Washington County, Oregon, seven miles west of Portland in the Tualatin River Valley. ... The Wall Street Journal is an influential international daily newspaper published in New York City, New York with an average daily circulation of 1,800,607 (2002). ...

When IBM bought Sequent, ...it [Sequent] lacked the size and resources to compete with Sun and Hewlett-Packard Co. in the Unix server market....
In 1999, IBM had problems of its own with an aged and high-priced line of servers, particularly for its version of Unix known as AIX. It also faced huge losses in personal computers and declining sales in its cash-cow mainframe line. Robert Stephenson, who headed the server group at IBM, saw acquiring Sequent as the best route to make IBM competitive in the market for large Unix servers where Sun was gobbling up market share.

When Stephenson retired shortly after IBM completed its acquisition of Sequent, responsibility for servers fell on Samuel J. Palmisano. The WSJ article noted that Palmisano wanted to "simplify IBM's multipronged server strategy"; it also quoted Scott Gibson, one of two executives (along with Casey Powell) who led Sequent when it was founded. Gibson told the WSJ the acquisition was doomed because "the guy who sponsored the acquisition retired." Jump to: navigation, search Sun Microsystems (Sun Microsystems, Inc. ... The Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE: HPQ), commonly known as HP, is a very large, global company headquartered in Palo Alto, California, United States. ... Jump to: navigation, search In computing, a server is: A computer software application that carries out some task (i. ... Jump to: navigation, search Advanced Interactive eXecutive (AIX) is the brand name of IBMs proprietary UNIX operating system. ... Jump to: navigation, search A 1990 Honeywell-Bull DPS 7 mainframe CPU Mainframes (often colloquially referred to as big iron) are large and expensive computers used mainly by government institutions and large companies for mission critical applications, typically bulk data processing such as censuses, industry/consumer statistics, ERP, and financial... Samuel J. Palmisano Samuel J. Palmisano (born July 29, 1951) is chairman of the board and chief executive officer of the IBM Corporation. ...


Vestiges of Sequent's innovations live on in the form of data clustering software from PolyServe, various projects within OSDL, IBM contributions to the Linux kernel, and claims in the SCO v. IBM lawsuit. Open Source Development Labs (OSDL) was founded in 2000 and has investment backing from Computer Associates, Fujitsu, Hitachi, HP, IBM, Intel, NEC and others. ... Jump to: navigation, search The Linux mascot Tux created by Larry Ewing The Linux kernel is a free Unix-like operating system kernel that was created by Linus Torvalds in 1991 and subsequently improved with the assistance of developers around the world. ... On March 6, 2003, the SCO Group (formerly known as Caldera Systems) filed a $1 billion lawsuit in the US against IBM for allegedly devaluing its version of the UNIX operating system. ...

Contents


History

Sequent formed in 1983 when a group of seventeen engineers and executives (including Scott Gibson) left Intel after the failed iAPX 432 "mainframe on a chip" project was cancelled. One non Intel employee joined them. They started Sequent to develop a line of SMP computers, then considered one of the up-and-coming fields in computer design. Several engineers from AT&T Bell Labs also came over, bringing systems programming expertise. Jump to: navigation, search Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC) (HKSE: 4335) (founded 1968) is a U.S.-based multinational corporation that is best known for designing and manufacturing microprocessors and specialized integrated circuits. ... The Intel iAPX 432 was Intels first 32-bit microprocessor design, introduced in 1981 as a set of three integrated circuits. ... Jump to: navigation, search Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC) (HKSE: 4335) (founded 1968) is a U.S.-based multinational corporation that is best known for designing and manufacturing microprocessors and specialized integrated circuits. ... Jump to: navigation, search AT&T (formerly an abbreviation for American Telephone and Telegraph) Corporation NYSE: T is an American telecommunications company. ... This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of quality. ...


Sequent's first computer systems were the Balance 8000 and Balance 21000 released in 1984. The Balance included up to 20 National Semiconductor NS32016 processors, each with a small cache connected to a common memory to form a shared memory system. The systems ran a modified version of BSD 4.2 Unix they called DYNIX, for DYNamic unIX. The machines were designed to compete with the DEC VAX 11/780, with each of their inexpensive processors dedicated to a particular process. In addition the system included a series of libraries that could be used by programmers to develop applications that could use more than one processor at a time. The Balance systems were originally intended to be sold to OEMs as computing engines, but that market could not be developed. When the commercial market discovered their reliability and cost advantages, the company re-thought its marketing strategy. The Balance line sold well for three years to banks, the government, other commercial enterprises, and universities interested in parallel computing. Jump to: navigation, search This page is about the year 1984. ... Categories: Electronics companies of the United States | Companies based in California | Corporation stubs ... The 320xx is a series of microprocessors from National Semiconductor (NS, Natsemi). The 320xx processors have a coprocessor interface which allows coprocessors such as FPUs and MMUs to be attached in a chain. ... Shared memory refers to a (typically) large block of Random access memory that can be accessed by several different central processing units (CPUs) in a multiple-processor computer system. ... Jump to: navigation, search Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) is the Unix derivative distributed by the University of California, Berkeley starting in the 1970s. ... Jump to: navigation, search It has been suggested that List of Unixes be merged into this article or section. ... Dynix (short for DYNamic unIX) is an operating system developed by Sequent. ... Digital Equipment Corporation was a pioneering company in the American computer industry. ... Jump to: navigation, search VAX is a 32-bit computing architecture that supports an orthogonal instruction set (machine language) and virtual addressing (i. ... Parallel computing is the simultaneous execution of the same task (split up and specially adapted) on multiple processors in order to obtain faster results. ...


Their next series was the Intel 80386-based Symmetry, released in 1987. Various models supported between 2 and 30 processors, using a new copy-back cache and a wider 64-bit memory bus. 1991's Symmetry 2000 models added SCSI drives, and were offered in versions with from one to six Intel 80486 processors. The next year they added the VMEbus based Symmetry 2000/x50 with faster CPUs. Jump to: navigation, search An Intel 80386 Microprocessor The Intel 80386 is a microprocessor which was used as the central processing unit (CPU) of many personal computers from 1986 until 1994 and later. ... In computing, a 64-bit component is one in which data are processed or stored in 64-bit units (words). ... Jump to: navigation, search Front Side Bus (FSB) is the term used to describe the CPU data bus. ... Jump to: navigation, search SCSI stands for Small Computer System Interface, and is a standard interface and command set for transferring data between devices on both internal and external computer buses. ... An Intel i486 Microprocessor The Intel i486 (also called 486 or 80486) is a range of Intel CISC microprocessors which is part of the Intel x86 family of processors. ... Jump to: navigation, search VMEbus is a computer bus standard originally developed for the Motorola 68000 line of CPUs, but later widely used for many applications and standardized by the IEC as ANSI/IEEE 1014-1987. ...


The late 1980s and early 1990s saw big changes on the software side for Sequent. DYNIX was replaced by DYNIX/ptx, which was based on a merger of AT&T's version of UNIX and BSD 4.2. And this was during a period when Sequent's high-end systems became particularly successful due to a close working relationship with Oracle, specifically their high-end database servers. In 1993 they added the Symmetry 2000/x90 along with their ptx/Cluster software, which added various high availability features and introduced custom support for Oracle Parallel Server. Jump to: navigation, search // Events and trends The 1980s marked an abrupt shift towards more conservative lifestyles after the momentous cultural revolutions which took place in the 1960s and 1970s and the definition of the AIDS virus in 1981. ... Jump to: navigation, search // Events and trends The 1990s are generally classified as having moved slightly away from the more conservative 1980s, but otherwise retaining the same mindset. ... The many divergents of System V System V, previously known as AT&T System V, was one of the versions of the Unix computer operating system. ... Jump to: navigation, search Berkeley Software Distribution (BSD) is the Unix derivative distributed by the University of California, Berkeley starting in the 1970s. ... Jump to: navigation, search Oracle Corporation (NASDAQ: ORCL), one of the major companies developing database management systems, tools for database development, and enterprise resource planning software, dates from 1977 and has offices in more than 145 countries around the world. ... Jump to: navigation, search An Oracle database, strictly speaking, consists of a collection of data managed by an Oracle database management system or DBMS. The term Oracle database sometimes refers - imprecisely - to the DBMS software itself. ... Jump to: navigation, search High-availability clusters (also known as HA Clusters) are implemented primarily for the purpose of improving the availability of services which the cluster provides. ...


In 1994 Sequent introduced the Symmetry 5000 series models SE20, SE60 and SE90, which used 66 MHz Pentium CPUs in systems from 2 to 30 processors. The next year they expanded that with the SE30/70/100 linup using 100 MHz Pentiums, and then in 1996 with the SE40/80/120 with 166 MHz Pentiums. With the addition of a VGA card and the Winserver NT software, the 5000 series could also run Windows NT. Jump to: navigation, search Pentium logo, with MMX enhancement The Pentium is a fifth-generation x86 architecture microprocessor by Intel which first shipped on March 22, 1993. ...


Recognizing the increase in competition for SMP systems after having been early adopters of the architecture, Sequent sought its next source of differentiation. They licensed their technology to Intel to help commoditize the SMP market, and began investing in the development of a system based on a cache-coherent non-uniform memory architecture (ccNUMA). NUMA dedicates separate portions of memory to different processors, avoiding the bottleneck that occurs because only one processor can access memory at a time. Using NUMA would allow their multiprocessor machines to generally outperform SMP systems, at least when the tasks are tightly coupled with their memory — as is the case for servers, where each user tends to be looking at different files. Jump to: navigation, search Intel Corporation (NASDAQ: INTC) (HKSE: 4335) (founded 1968) is a U.S.-based multinational corporation that is best known for designing and manufacturing microprocessors and specialized integrated circuits. ... Jump to: navigation, search In computing, a server is: A computer software application that carries out some task (i. ...


In 1996 they released the first of a new series of machines based on this new architecture. Known internally as STiNG, an abbreviation for Sequent: The Next Generation (with Intel inside), it was productized as NUMA-Q and was the last of the systems released before the company was purchased by IBM for over $800 million. IBM then started Project Monterey with Santa Cruz Operation, intending to produce a NUMA-capable standardized Unix running on IA-32, IA-64 and POWER and PowerPC platforms. This project later fell through as both IBM and SCO turned to the Linux market, but is the basis for "the new SCO"'s SCO v. IBM Linux lawsuit. Jump to: navigation, search It has been suggested that Acronym and initialism be merged into this article or section. ... The Project Monterey Logo Project Monterey was an attempt to build a single Unix-like operating system that ran across a variety of 32-bit and 64-bit platforms, as well as supporting multi-processing. ... Tarantella, Inc. ... Jump to: navigation, search It has been suggested that List of Unixes be merged into this article or section. ... IA-32, sometimes generically called x86-32, is the computer architecture of Intels most successful microprocessors. ... In computing, IA-64 (Intel Architecture-64) is a 64-bit processor architecture developed in cooperation by Intel and Hewlett-Packard, implemented by processors such as Itanium and Itanium 2. ... POWER is a RISC CPU architecture designed by IBM. The name is a backronym for Performance Optimization With Enhanced RISC. The POWER series microprocessors are used as the main CPU in many of IBMs servers, minicomputers, workstations, and supercomputers. ... Jump to: navigation, search PowerPC is a RISC microprocessor architecture created by the 1991 Apple-IBM-Motorola alliance, known as AIM. Originally intended for workstations, PowerPC CPUs have since become popular embedded and high-performance processors as well. ... Jump to: navigation, search Tux, a cartoon penguin frequently featured sitting, is the official Linux mascot. ... On March 6, 2003, the SCO Group (formerly known as Caldera Systems) filed a $1 billion lawsuit in the US against IBM for allegedly devaluing its version of the UNIX operating system. ...


In 2002, after Sun Microsystems began a public discussion of IBM's silence on their NUMA-based x430 system, IBM had a reduction-in-force, and announced that it had no further plans to market the x430 and would eventually drop support for the over 10,000 systems that Sequent and IBM had deployed. Jump to: navigation, search 2002(MMII) is a common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Jump to: navigation, search Sun Microsystems (Sun Microsystems, Inc. ...


Detailed model descriptions

The following is a more detailed description of the first two generations of Symmmetry products, released between 1987 and 1990.


Symmetry 80836-based platforms

  • Symmetry S3: The S3 was the low-end platform based on commodity PC components running a fully-compatible version of DYNIX 3. It featured a single 33 MHz Intel 80386 processor, up to 40 megabytes of RAM, up to 1.8 gigabytes of SCSI-based disk storage, and up to 32 direct-connected serial ports.
  • Symmetry S16: The S16 was the entry-level multiprocessing model, which ran DYNIX/ptx. It featured up to six 20 MHz Intel 80386 processors, each with a 128 kilobyte cache. It also supported up to 80 MB of RAM, up to 2.5 GB of SCSI-based disk storage, and up to 80 direct-connected serial ports.
  • Symmetry S27: the S27 ran either DYNIX/ptx or DYNIX 3. It featured up to ten 20 MHz Intel 80386 processors, each with a 128 KB cache. It also supported up to 128 MB of RAM, up to 12.5 GB of disk storage, and up to 144 direct-connected serial ports.
  • Symmetry S81: the S81 ran either DYNIX/ptx or DYNIX 3. It featured up to 30 20 MHz Intel 80386 processors, each with a 128 KB cache. It also supported up to 384 MB of RAM, up to 84.8 GB of disk storage, and up to 256 direct-connected serial ports.

A megahertz (MHz) is one million (106) hertz, a measure of frequency. ... Jump to: navigation, search An Intel 80386 Microprocessor The Intel 80386 is a microprocessor which was used as the central processing unit (CPU) of many personal computers from 1986 until 1994 and later. ... This article is about a unit of data measurement. ... This article is about the unit of measurement, for the computer hardware manufacturer see Gigabyte Technology. ... Jump to: navigation, search SCSI stands for Small Computer System Interface, and is a standard interface and command set for transferring data between devices on both internal and external computer buses. ... Jump to: navigation, search A male DE-9 serial port on the rear panel of a PC. In computing, a serial port is an interface on a computer system with which information is transferred in or out one bit at a time (contrast parallel port). ... Jump to: navigation, search A kilobyte (derived from the SI prefix kilo-) is a unit of information or computer storage equal to either 1024 or 1000 bytes. ... Jump to: navigation, search In computer science, a cache (pronounced kăsh) is a collection of data duplicating original values stored elsewhere or computed earlier, where the original data are expensive (usually in terms of access time) to fetch or compute relative to reading the cache. ...

Symmetry 2000 platforms

  • Symmetry 2000/40: The S2000/40 was the low-end platform based on commodity PC components running a fully-compatible version of DYNIX/ptx. It featured a single 33 MHz Intel 80486 processor, up to 64 megabytes of RAM, up to 2.4 gigabytes of SCSI-based disk storage, and up to 32 direct-connected serial ports.
  • Symmetry 2000/200: The S2000/200 was the entry-level multiprocessing model, which ran DYNIX/ptx. It featured up to six 25 MHz Intel 80486 processors, each with a 512 kilobyte cache. It also supported up to 128 MB of RAM, up to 2.5 GB of SCSI-based disk storage, and up to 80 direct-connected serial ports.
  • Symmetry 2000/400: the S2000/400 ran either DYNIX/ptx or DYNIX 3. It featured up to ten 25 MHz Intel 80486 processors, each with a 512 KB cache. It also supported up to 128 MB of RAM, up to 14.0 GB of disk storage, and up to 144 direct-connected serial ports.
  • Symmetry 2000/700: the S2000/700 ran either DYNIX/ptx or DYNIX 3. It featured up to 30 25 MHz Intel 80486 processors, each with a 512 KB cache. It also supported up to 384 MB of RAM, up to 85.4 GB of disk storage, and up to 256 direct-connected serial ports.

A megahertz (MHz) is one million (106) hertz, a measure of frequency. ... An Intel i486 Microprocessor The Intel i486 (also called 486 or 80486) is a range of Intel CISC microprocessors which is part of the Intel x86 family of processors. ... This article is about a unit of data measurement. ... This article is about the unit of measurement, for the computer hardware manufacturer see Gigabyte Technology. ... Jump to: navigation, search SCSI stands for Small Computer System Interface, and is a standard interface and command set for transferring data between devices on both internal and external computer buses. ... Jump to: navigation, search A male DE-9 serial port on the rear panel of a PC. In computing, a serial port is an interface on a computer system with which information is transferred in or out one bit at a time (contrast parallel port). ... Jump to: navigation, search A kilobyte (derived from the SI prefix kilo-) is a unit of information or computer storage equal to either 1024 or 1000 bytes. ... Jump to: navigation, search In computer science, a cache (pronounced kăsh) is a collection of data duplicating original values stored elsewhere or computed earlier, where the original data are expensive (usually in terms of access time) to fetch or compute relative to reading the cache. ...

Reference

  • Sequent Computer Systems (1991). Symmetry Multiprocessor Architecture Overview. Company publication number 1003-50113-01.

External links

  • IBM lays off 250 in Beaverton, a May 2002 article from Portland Business Journal, one of the American City Business Journals
  • Project Blue-Away, a Sun Microsystems project announced in February 2002 targeting NUMA-Q customers
  • IBM lays off 200 Portland employees, a January 2002 article, also from Portland Business Journal
  • Out of Sequence, a September 1999 article from Willamette Week

  Results from FactBites:
 
Sequent Computer Systems - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1593 words)
The death knell for NUMA-Q and Sequent technology was sounded when in 2002, two layoffs at Sequent's former headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon ended all development on the systems for which IBM had acquired the company.
Sequent formed in 1983 when a group of eighteen engineers and executives (including Gibson) left Intel after the failed iAPX 432 "mainframe on a chip" project was cancelled.
Sequent's first computer systems were the Balance 8000 and Balance 21000 released in 1984.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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