But Sun Studio is more than just a compiler, which is what NetBeans is. Sun Studio 12 also features a debugger, a performance analyzer, performance libraries, support for writing multithreaded applications and high performance computing applications, and performance tuning and optimization.
Also new and notable in Studio 12 is complete support for Linux. Studio runs on both Linux and Solaris, and code written for one platform can be ported to the other platform and recompiled with no modifications needed, according to Jeet Kaul, vice president of developer products and programs at Sun.
Studio 12 also focuses on multithreaded applications, and not just the Niagara chip. Sun is also working closely with Intel and AMD to ensure that Sun Studio software takes full advantage of their multi-core processors, including the upcoming Barcelona processor from AMD (Quote) and Intel's Woodcrest Xeon processors.
This includes making changes in the debugger and compiler and analyzer to understand threads. All existing source code that is read into the compiler is examined and it looks for opportunities to turn the code into parallel threads, said Don Kresh, Sun's senior director for developer tools. .
Also new in Studio 12, if you have a multithreaded app the thread analyzer will examine an application after it's tested and show potential bottlenecks and deadlocks.
"We're getting to a point where you're not going to be able to get a single core system," said Kresh. "So all the developers are working to provide tools for it [multi-core]. It's not a commodity talent, but we're at the cusp of a series of transitions that have to occur."
Burton Group analyst Joe Niski said Sun has a "strong story" if its benchmarks are on target. "The improved compiler performance is a really good thing for scientific and embedded developers," he said. "Even if they hadn't broadened their reach by giving it away and making it available on Linux, it would still be a strong story based on the quality of the compilers."
He also said the multithreading support is needed, because developing parallel processing applications has not gotten any easier despite being around for so long. "The easier you can make it for developers to take advantage of multi-core processors, the better it is for developers and their customers. The work they've been doing to really optimize compilers on behalf of the developer is really a positive," said Niski.