SPARC (Scalable Processor Architecture) is the industry's only openly defined and evolved RISC architecture. Version 9 is the new 64-bit incarnation of SPARC - the most significant change since SPARC's introduction in 1987! Unlike other RISC (Reduced Instruction Set Computer) designs, SPARC specifies not a hardware implementation ( chip ), but an open, standard architecture belonging to the community of SPARC vendors and users. The SPARC specification is defined by the SPARC Architecture Committee, a technical arm of the computer-maker consortium, SPARC International. Version 9 provides 64-bit data and addressing, support for fault tolerance, fast context switching, support for advanced compiler optimizations, efficient design for Superscalar processors, and a clean structure for modern operating systems. The V9 architecture supplements, rather than replaces, the 32-bit Version 8 architecture. The non-privileged features of Version 9 are upward-compatible from Version 8, so 32-bit application software can execute natively, without modification, on Version 9 systems - no special compatibility mode is required. Publication of the Version 9 architecture marks a three-year development effort by SPARC International member companies from a broad cross-section of disciplines.