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A look at the UltraSPARC T2 die  (Source: Sun Microsystems)
Sun's new UltraSPARC T2, formerly codenamed Niagara 2, may find its way outside of the server market

Sun Microsystems will announce today a new microprocessor that it boasts to be “the world’s fastest.” The new processor, officially termed UltraSPARC T2, is the successor to the company’s UltraSPARC T1 – with several improvements and architectural changes.

The UltraSPARC T2, formerly codenamed Niagara 2, is an eight-core, 64-thread microprocessor that will reach the server market later this year. The new chip includes a 4MB L2 cache, two on-chip 10 Gbyte Ethernet ports, and each core pipeline will have its own integrated FPU.

According to Sun, the new UltraSPARC T2 processor offers twice as much performance per watt was the UltraSPARC T1 and 10 times the floating point computational power.

The new chip is also designed to excel at virtualization. The UltraSPARC T2’s ability to run up to 64 applications simultaneously on a single processor is an attractive feature for IT departments looking to simplify their data centers.

"The combination of Solaris and UltraSparc is a very powerful virtualization platform," said Fadi Azhari, director of marketing for Sun Microelectronics. "We believe it's unequal in the industry."

Sun has also kept an eye on processor efficiency. The new chip is to consume less than two watts per thread, adding up to around 120 to 130 watts for the entire processor. For the basis of comparison, the a quad-core Intel Xeon processor requires 30 watts per thread.

Although the UltraSPARC T2 will definitely power many of Sun’s servers later this year, the company has many other plans for the chip’s applications. Different versions of the chip, perhaps with fewer cores or lower power consumption, may be usable in networking hardware, set-top boxes, or even automobiles.

"We don't want to limit ourselves to the server market. The server market won't grow nearly as fast as the storage or networking market," Jonathan Schwartz, Sun's CEO, said in an interview. "While we are making them, we might as well make them general purpose enough to sell them to the broader market."

The full-featured chip is expected to cost below $1,000, though scaled-down versions will cost less for more simple applications. Schwartz said that the company is already speaking to potential network and storage partners on adoption of the UltraSPARC T2.

"Sun is entering the merchant silicon business and by that we're going to be chasing the commodity volume markets which are not simply limited to the market place for server computers," added Schwartz.

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Gbyte vs. Gbit
By hinchesk on 8/7/2007 2:24:34 PM , Rating: 2
Looks like there's a typo in the article where 10 Gbyte should read 10 Gbit. Either way, that's impressive on a chip that already has 64 threads. Too bad it can't run Vista... might actually make it respond like a modern OS.

RE: Gbyte vs. Gbit
By Treckin on 8/7/2007 5:34:25 PM , Rating: 2
hmm. This vista bashing has to stop. I would guess that you either:
a) Have never used Windows Vista
b) are trying to run it on a system that runs at 1ghz and has 256mb ram...

Im typing from an Asus F3JP laptop with a C2D T7200 (2gh) and 2 GB of ram (I added 1). I have had NO issues whatsoever with vista being slow, taking a long time to boot, etc. Also consider that XP was dismal when it came out and people were using 1.2 GHZ Thunderbirds and 1.5 GHZ P4's. The reason that it runs so well is that it is a 6 or 7 year old OS operation on 5 generations of hardware past where it was written. Vista will run like butter in 5 more cpu iterations.

RE: Gbyte vs. Gbit
By doctat on 8/8/2007 3:02:13 AM , Rating: 3
I've had Vista on both my laptop, and my main gaming desktop for several months now, and can confirm that Vista does indeed suck.

RE: Gbyte vs. Gbit
By Targon on 8/8/2007 7:58:24 AM , Rating: 2
Do you have only one gig of memory on those machines? Vista is running well for me as well, with only a few issues(Game Jackal being the only real problem). The key is having a decent GPU(Intel graphics just doesn't cut it), and having at least two gigs of memory.

I've seen a number of decent machines that really slow down under Vista because they only had 1 gig of memory.

RE: Gbyte vs. Gbit
By OrSin on 8/8/2007 11:51:58 AM , Rating: 1
Vista dont need all that. I got Vista runing on AMD 2500 with 1GB memory and some of that taking by the on board Graphics (NF2 board). And it runs all apps fine. Granted i dont play games on it any more, but I stopped playing games on it with xp long ago too. Vista is blooted the same way IE is blotted, but they both still work fine.

RE: Gbyte vs. Gbit
By headbox on 8/8/2007 3:41:37 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think you know what "fine" means. "Fine" to me means fast. My Core 2 Duo 2.4 / 3 GB RAM / 1 TB RAID / 8600 system runs programs much slower on Vista compared to XP. I did benchmarks to prove it in Maya, Photoshop, After Effects, and Quicktime rendering. Maybe you're just not using "pro" applications that require any kind of power.

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