end of an era
that's a shame; rock sounded quite exciting and i understand it was getting fairly close to production. certainly not off in vaporware land like ultrasparc V was. i think this announcement marks nothing less than the end of sun microsystems as an independent hardware designer. soon enough sun will be nothing more than a name plate on a generic intel box, but i suppose it's been going that way for a while.
i'll just keep on running my old ultrasparcs as long as i can get away with it.
incidentally, the ultrasparc II wasn't really a paragon of a successful hardware launch. yes sun was flush with cash and riding high back in the .com boom but certainly the early ultrasparc II processors had some hardware issues e.g. with caches that really drove a lot of customers crazy back then. the story is not all roses but it is true that the ultrasparc II did eventually turn into a very solid performer albeit somewhat uncompetitive in terms of raw performance versus its contemporaries.
really, in retrospect, i wouldnt say that sparc really ever had the edge in terms of pure performance. even the early sparc risc chips were not vastly more powerful than cisc contenders like the 68040 and early mips processors, and the ultrasparc was often bested in straight benchmarks by the alpha and power2. what always did it for me with sun is that they had a good all around package with excellent hardware reliability (imho; stop laughing!) and performance that while not eye popping was always acceptable.