Niagara 2: The sequel

Sun Microsystems hopes its new UltraSparc T2 processor will earn it repeat business from existing telecommunications customers

Sun Microsystems hopes its new UltraSparc T2 processor, officially launched Tuesday, will earn it repeat business from existing telecommunications customers and attract new customers looking for a way to make their networks run faster.

The T2 chip, also known by the code name Niagara 2, features eight cores supporting 64 threads of processing capacity on a single chip, double the capacity of its Niagara 1 chip. Sun bills Niagara 2 as a "server system on a chip," having built into it a number of functions besides processing, including networking, 10Gb (gigabit) Ethernet, PCI Express I/O, faster memory access, and others.

The Niagara line features chip multithreading (CMT), a processor design that makes it possible for computing instructions to go back and forth through a processor simultaneously.

Despite all the enhancements, Sun claims the Niagara 2 uses the same 2 watts of electricity per thread to operate as the Niagara 1.

Sun sees a market for Niagara 2 beyond just servers to routers and switches on networks and in other telecommunications infrastructure, said David Yen, executive vice president of Sun's Microelectronics unit. The unit, formed in March, is tasked with developing technology not just to use in Sun's products, but to license to other companies.

"We actually are in serious conversations with several global telcos for adopting Niagara 2 in their switches and routers," said Yen, declining to be more specific.

Sun is going to gradually replace Niagara 1 with Niagara 2 in its T1000 and T2000 rack servers, he said, but it may also be used in blade servers and other products. Sun would be happy to license its chips to other server vendors, too, such as rivals Hewlett-Packard and Dell, but Yen acknowledged that would be "definitely a longer process." Sun chips are used in servers from Fujitsu Ltd. under a long-standing partnership between the two companies.

The more significant market opportunity for Niagara 2 is in networking equipment, said Jean Bozman, an analyst with IDC.

"These chips have been optimized to a great degree to handle network traffic. That's very valuable to other folks that would otherwise have to go and figure out how to do it for themselves," said Bozman.

Emerging technology such as Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), IPTV -- delivering television over computer networks -- and the Web 2.0 will all need faster networks, she said.

Niagara 2 is built on a 65-nanometer (nm) chip, smaller than the 90-nm chips on Niagara 1, yet still has more features, said Rick Hetherington, CTO of the Microelectronics unit.

"The processor will be far more attractive [than Niagara 1] to markets that are technical in nature," Hetherington said.

Sun is releasing the code for Niagara 2 under an open source license as it has done with its Solaris OS and Java programming language.

Further ahead on Sun's CMT processor road map is Victoria Falls, due in the first half of 2008, a more scalable version of a Niagara chip that makes it possible to put more than one processor on a motherboard, said Yen. Sun's Rock processor, which is expected to come with 16 cores, double that of Niagara 2, is due in the second half of 2008.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert Mullins

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Bitdefender 2019

This Holiday Season, protect yourself and your loved ones with the best. Buy now for Holiday Savings!

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?