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Sun Unveils Its Fastest Commodity Microprocessor

Sun Microsystems today announced its fastest commodity microprocessor, the UltraSPARC T2 (formerly known as the "Niagara 2" project), as the cornerstone of its merchant portfolio of microelectronics. Available for sale separate from Sun's own systems, this new processor is the industry's first volume processor with 8 cores and 8 threads per core. With each thread capable of running its own operating system, the chip delivers a whopping 64-way system on a single chip. Sun will provide the UltraSPARC T2 processor design to the free and open source community via the GPL license.

The UltraSPARC T2 is the first processor to bring together the key functions of multiple systems - virtualization, processing, networking, security, floating point units and accelerated memory access. Integrating these elements on a single piece of silicon reduces cost and increases performance, reliability and energy efficiency - making it the superior choice for a diversity of workloads, from networking equipment to high-performance computing or storage devices. As a general-purpose processor, the UltraSPARC T2 also provides support for the massively threaded, open-source Solaris operating system, and other real-time operating systems, as well as future versions of Ubuntu Linux.

This next generation of the UltraSPARC family of processors also brings about Sun's CoolThreads chip multithreading (CMT) technology to the UltraSPARC T2 processor, powered by fewer than 2W per thread.

More features:

  • Networking - Dual, virtualizable, multithreaded 10 Gigabit-per-second Ethernet ports with built-in packet classification ensure fast access to networks and server-to-server communications.
  • Security - 8 cryptographic acceleration units and a total of 10 independent functions address ever-heightening security needs, including NSA-approved algorithms, without a performance penalty.
  • Computation - 8 floating point units extend the benefits of CMT to high-performance computing workloads for scientific applications; world record single-chip SPECfp_rate2006 and world-record single-chip SPECompM2001 scores.
  • Input/Output - 8 lanes of industry-standard PCI Express I/O speed applications like streaming media, database read/write and data back-up.
  • Memory access - Quad memory controllers deliver more than 50 Gigabytes-per-second of memory access.
  • Software support - The massively threaded Solaris OS takes advantage of the highly threaded processors and is claimed to enable open and cost-effective virtualization.

The UltraSPARC T2 processor is available in production quantities this quarter, with prices starting well below $1,000, and licensing options wide open for derivative works.

Source: Sun Microsystems

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