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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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RE: Welcome to the Home Computer Market, Sun
By Ringold on 8/7/2007 4:08:35 PM , Rating: 2
Even ignoring that it's not x86, 4mb L2 cache? I would think that using all 8 cores would be virtually impossible using the common applications used on a desktop with so little cache.

Unless thats 4mb per core.. That'd be different. I'd have the highest Folding@Home output Sanford...


RE: Welcome to the Home Computer Market, Sun
By Ringold on 8/7/2007 4:09:57 PM , Rating: 2
*hits the invisible Edit button*

"in Sanford..."

*preview*
*post*


RE: Welcome to the Home Computer Market, Sun
By Justin Case on 8/7/2007 4:20:15 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe hit it again and put the "t" in "Stanford"...


RE: Welcome to the Home Computer Market, Sun
By plimogs on 8/7/2007 9:22:24 PM , Rating: 2
No way...

I didn't even notice the missing "in" - if there is one...

On the other hand, I just excluded the simple possibility that he actually meant Stanford as abhorrent, when he double posted about the lack of an edit button.

I was wondering where and what sanfort was...lol


By plimogs on 8/7/2007 9:28:51 PM , Rating: 3
Allow me to double-post about posting about the lack of an edit button to edit one's last post by saying: To correct my previous wicked sarcastic burn on the "lack of an edit button" double-post, I'd change that sanford for Sanford...

Sorry for the double-post...

lol :)


By Calin on 8/8/2007 2:27:44 AM , Rating: 2
Niagara runs plenty of threads, but is much less restricted by the memory speed/access time than the likes of Opteron. Remember that an execution unit runs four threads at a time, doing instant context switches - so, for the threads memory access time four times slower than the equivalent clocked Opteron would suffice


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