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Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Sun Microsystems Enters Commercial Silicon Market With World's Fastest Commodity Microprocessor

Record Benchmarks and Virtualization, Decoupled from Sun Servers, to Power Third-Party Server, Storage and Networking Device Marketplace.

Sun Microsystems, Inc., today announced the world's fastest commodity microprocessor, the UltraSPARC(R) T2, 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 eight cores and eight threads per core. Formerly known as the "Niagara 2" project, the UltraSPARC T2's world-record performance raises the bar on commodity processors while boasting the industry's highest energy efficiency per thread. 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 market for commodity silicon and the devices they power is well into the tens of billions of dollars," said David Yen, executive vice president of Microelectronics for Sun. "The UltraSPARC T2 processor also makes possible a new breed of compact, power-efficient, highly integrated devices-going beyond servers to routers, switches, network devices, medical imaging, industrial printing and more. With UltraSPARC T2 technology, we can bring the speed and scalability of chip multithreading into much wider use-and provide welcome alternatives to companies that want commodity economics without commodity performance."

"We're at a historic point in computing, moving away from sequential processing to multicore designs," said Professor Dave Patterson, Pardee Chair of Computer Science for the University of California at Berkeley. "Hence, we need to invent new ways to evaluate these new parallel systems. Our initial experiments suggest that Niagara 2 has the highest performance, is the most power efficient and is the most 'software friendly' of the processors we've tested."

The UltraSPARC T2 is the industry's 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(TM) operating system, and other real-time operating systems, as well as future versions of Ubuntu Linux, bringing a massive community of developers and productivity to the growing market.

"We are excited about exploring the capabilities of the UltraSPARC T2 processor," said Mark Murphy, global alliances manager at Canonical, the commercial sponsor of Ubuntu. "We certify Ubuntu on the SPARC architecture as we believe it is at the forefront of what's possible in processing and for many Ubuntu users this is of critical importance. UltraSPARC T2 shows Sun continues to push the boundaries and we are proud to be alongside pushing with them."

This next generation of the UltraSPARC family of processors also extends its lead in eco performance, bringing Sun's revolutionary CoolThreads(TM) chip multithreading (CMT) technology to the UltraSPARC T2 processor, powered by fewer than two watts per thread. At one-tenth to one-thirtieth the power consumption of competitive offerings, the UltraSPARC T2 processor sets the gold standard for green computing and efficiency, combining the industry's lowest power consumption with double the cores, 16 times the threads, 4 times the throughput, with on-chip network and security functionality. Bottom line: The UltraSPARC T2 processor has the potential to save systems builders and their end users millions of dollars on skyrocketing power, cooling and space expense.

A breakthrough in architectural design, the UltraSPARC T2 processor delivers an unprecedented level of integrated system functions on a single chip:
-- High-throughput processing - Eight cores and eight threads per core accelerate throughput as shown by two world-record, single-chip SPEC CPU scores, based on tests that delivered 78.3 est. SPECint_rate2006 and a 62.3 est. SPECfp_rate2006. The UltraSPARC T2 processor has twice the thread count of Sun's UltraSPARC T1 processor, which recently set a world record on ten Sun Blade(TM) T6300 Server Modules delivering 8253.21 SPECjAppServer2004 JOPS@Standard*
-- 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 - Eight cryptographic acceleration units and a total of 10 independent functions address ever-heightening security needs, including NSA-approved algorithms, without a performance penalty
-- Computation - Eight 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 - Eight 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 excellent advantage of the highly threaded processors and enables open and cost- effective virtualization

In production now, Sun's new UltraSPARC T2 processor offers more consolidation and virtualization flexibility than any processor in its class. With up to 64 logical domains per processor, customers can achieve unprecedented levels of efficiency by consolidating many physically separate systems onto a single UltraSPARC T2 processor-based platform.

Sun, the Open Source Leader
Having surpassed 5,500 downloads of the OpenSPARC(TM) T1 source code, Sun is working to release source code for the UltraSPARC T2 processor to the OpenSPARC community at Today Sun is announcing the following to give a head start to the development community around OpenSPARC T2:
-- A programmer's reference manual - Jumpstarts software ports, operating system ports and tools development for OpenSPARC T2 projects
-- Microarchitecture specifications - Detailed description of the features and functionalities of the OpenSPARC T2 hardware blocks help hardware and system designers innovate and potentially create new applications
-- OpenSPARC T2 beta review - This program provides early access to a limited number of hardware designers and tool developers to begin working with the state-of-the-art CMT processor with system-on-a-chip functionality. The program catalyzes the development of a community for OpenSPARC T2, speeds the debugging process and leads to a better first release of the technology

UltraSPARC T2 Availability
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.

For more information about the UltraSPARC T2 processor, visit For information about licensing Sun's Microelectronics technology, go to

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