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Now Sun Wants To Be a Merchant Chip House for Virtualization

Quoting Virtualization.Sys-Con

So Sun has in hand its latest Sparc chip, the 1.4GHz Niagara 2, officially the UltraSparc T2, and expects it to be available in production quantities this quarter.

It'll go into Sun 1U and 2U boxes and blades in Q4, but Sun is also gonna try to get the wee beast picked up by people who make set-top boxes, routers, switches, medical imaging, industrial printing, storage and cars, a dicey high-volume strategy that would make a big difference in its prospects, big enough for it to say it's "wide open" to what it'll accept in licensing terms for derivative works.

Hopefully Sun's prospects have no idea of what happened the last time Sun took a crack at the merchant chip market; it was a disaster for everybody that got in bed with it.

IBM, which recently launched its two-core 4.7GHz Power6 processor, is going around calling the T2 a "niche" play.

Analyst Nathan Brookwood thinks the world of the chip, but he too consigns to it to the merchant niche of high-end network appliances, storage and telecoms, would swoon if another major OEM were to pick it up, but figures Sun's own T2 boxes will sell like hotcakes.

Anyway, to move its scheme along Sun is going to open source T2 like it did T1 under the GPL 2. It doesn't have the source code up yet but it's got a programmer's reference manual, the microarchitecture specifications and a beta available for a limited number of hardware designers and tools developers at www.opensparc.net.

Sun said the OpenSparc T1 source code has been downloaded 5,500 times since in was open sourced a year ago March.

The widget, like the T1, has eight cores, each of which supports eight threads, double T1's threads, so 64 threads in all.

Each thread is capable of running its own operating system and Sun says it'll be supporting Solaris, other real-time operating systems and future versions of Ubuntu Linux. It claims the highest energy efficiency per thread, two watts per threat to be precise or 128W total, which is hotter of course than the Niagara I, which is now bringing in sales of over $100 million a quarter.

It's unclear how good Ubuntu's gonna be at this multithreaded stuff, but Solaris of course is supposed to be a wiz, but it also depends on how well the applications are with threads. It should be great with anything Java and stuff like WebSphere, BEA and Oracle. SAP and PeopleSoft might pose a problem.

T2's also got two on-chip 10 Gbps Ethernet ports, eight cryptographic acceleration units, eight lanes of industry-standard PC Express I/O and quad memory controllers.

Prices start at "well below" a hefty thousand bucks, Sun said. Sun can tailor the chip and its price point to different purposes.

Next up in the line is Victoria Falls, the next-generation Niagara, due out the first half of next year.

Read the original, here.

Published Monday, August 13, 2007 5:51 AM by David Marshall
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