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Sun Microsystems Hardware

Sneak Peek At Sun's SPARC Server Roadmap 113

Posted by Soulskill
from the measuring-stick-for-oracle dept.
The folks at The Register have gotten their hands on Sun's confidential roadmap from June, which outlines the company's plans for SPARC product lines. The chart has some basic technical details for the UltraSPARC T-series and the SPARC64 line. The long-anticipated "Rock" line is not mentioned. "We can expect a goosed SPARC64-VII+ chip any day now, which will run at 2.88 GHz and which will be a four-core, eight-threaded chip like its 'Jupiter' predecessor. This Jupiter+ chip is implemented in the same 65 nanometer process as the Jupiter chip was, and it is made by Fujitsu, a company that is in the process of outsourcing its chip manufacturing to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Corp. ... not only has Sun cut back on the threads with [the 2010 UltraSPARC model, codenamed Rainbow Falls], it has also cut back on the socket count, keeping it at the same four sockets used by the T5440 server. And instead of hitting something close to 2 GHz as it should be able to do as it shifts from a 65 nanometer to a 45 nanometer process in the middle of 2010, Sun is only telling customers that it can boost clock speeds to 1.67 GHz with Rainbow Falls."
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Sneak Peak At Sun's SPARC Server Roadmap

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  • by icebike (68054) on Friday September 11, 2009 @08:35PM (#29395043)

    Then Sun should, in fact, keep it confidential.

    I'm betting it was leaked to give some assurance to the customer base that there will actually BE a Sun in the future.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 11, 2009 @08:48PM (#29395093)

    How'd they get this roadmap? More than likely from someone inside Oracle. Now when Oracle gets Sun and the SPARC chips are better than this, Oracle will get the credit for "saving Sun".

    Or am I too cynical?

  • by reporter (666905) on Friday September 11, 2009 @09:44PM (#29395245) Homepage
    In order for a microprocessor to be financially successfully, it must enjoy large economies of scale. That Intel can sell essentially the same design (of the x86) in multiple forms to hundreds of millions of customers means that Intel can afford the massive research and development that is necessary to design the typical x86 chip.

    By contrast, though Sun Microsystems often boasted that it has -- actually, had -- the largest microprocessor team after Intel, the team could not design a chip that sold to hundreds of millions of customers. They numbered only several hundred thousand. That sell rate could not pay the salaries of the 2nd largest microprocessor team in the world.

    Here is another example of Sun arrogance. In the 1990s, Sun could have easily built their company on the unglamorous ARM RISC processor, but Sun management wanted to exhibit the "pride" (and arrogance) of homegrown technology. So, the management spent billions of dollars on designing one of the worst microprocessors in the industry. The UltraSPARC III was overbudget, was late (to market), and underperformed its peers.

    The Sun has set. Good riddance to arrogance.

    P. S.

    Yes. The UltraSPARC I and II were okay. However, they were not stellar. What helped their sales was mating them to the server box, E10000, that Sun luckily acquired from SGI/Cray. However, starting from the UltraSPARC III (an utter fiasco), the processors were so horribly underperforming that even an outstanding server design could not compensate for the mediocre performance of its processor.

  • by Jeremy Allison - Sam (8157) on Friday September 11, 2009 @10:23PM (#29395375) Homepage

    Yeah, lots of the original Samba code was written on Sun 386i's. Ah, memories :-).

    Jeremy.

  • by mevets (322601) on Friday September 11, 2009 @10:30PM (#29395413)

    On the first day I worked for Sun, an x86 implemented emulator of a SPARC ran at 2-5 % the speed of the SPARC of the day. Within 4 years, the same emulator on x86 of the day ran at about 50% the speed of SPARC of the day. By now, it may well be 1.2 times SPARC of the day. That is the nature of commodity electronics.

    The story isn't SPARC vs x86; it is low-run specialized electronics vs huge commodity production. There is no craftsman-like advantage to the low-run specialty; this isn't furniture, it is etchings on polished sand.

  • by Daniel Phillips (238627) on Friday September 11, 2009 @10:47PM (#29395473)

    Sun, if this is the best you can do -- 4 cores, 8 threads, arriving at 45nm just as everyone else is getting to 32nm

    Sun's performance as a chip vendor is far better that your performance as a Slashdot troll. According to Sun's roadmap, a 16 core times 8 threads processor (128 threads just to be clear) at 40 nanometers arrives in 2010. That would be four sockets per blade, 48 blades per chassis for a respectable 768 multithreaded processors per chassis. As Sun says, it comes down to the TPC-C numbers. I'm no Sun fanboi, far from it, but I could be convinced by the right performance/heat ratio.

  • Re:SPARC Roadmap? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Daniel Phillips (238627) on Saturday September 12, 2009 @12:06AM (#29395755)

    At this point, it looks pretty much the same as a (DEC) Alpha or Itanium roadmap.

    Except for one thing: the SPARC circuitry is entirely open source [opensparc.net]. This has interesting implications, such as the fact that enthusiasts can build these things as FPGAs or even ASICs as fab costs come down to within the reach of clubs and schools. And emerging economies can fab these things by the bazillions without paying royalties. Not to mention big rich countries too. [theregister.co.uk]

  • by afidel (530433) on Saturday September 12, 2009 @12:18AM (#29395795)
    IBM seems to do ok keeping POWER up with and ahead of Intel/AMD. Sun just rested on their laurels and kept selling essentially the same very expensive product as the rest of the computer world was rapidly advancing around them. The only truly cool thing I saw come out of Sun was the T2 and Oracle killed it for me when they dropped the per core price break when T2 started getting too fast. Perhaps now that they own Sun the pricing will go back to reasonable but I'm certainly not holding my breath.
  • by TheLink (130905) on Saturday September 12, 2009 @03:32AM (#29396507) Journal
    > Now the Niagara (UltraSPARC-Tx) CPU isn't good for every work load out there, but if it's highly parallel then it's something that you should be looking.

    If Oracle still charges per core, the Niagara approach of many core CPUs could be more expensive.

    Looking at the roadmap they seem to be going fewer cores, or at least sticking with 8.

    As for power consumption, I wouldn't bet on the Intel x86 always consuming more power than a SPARC for the same performance. They are a scary competitor. They keep introducing consumer grade x86 cpus that are more powerful and yet consume less power.

    Can Sun/SPARC keep ahead of them? They might only be ahead in SSL/TLS. And if that becomes a big enough demand, some taiwanese/chinese company start producing cheap pcie cards to do that :). Or Intel could decide to use some transistors to do it - they have lots of transistors to play with on their chips, it's just a matter of priorities.
  • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Saturday September 12, 2009 @08:08AM (#29397181) Journal

    IBM seems to do ok keeping POWER up with and ahead of Intel/AMD

    Depends on your metric. Raw performance? Sure. Performance per Watt? Maybe. Performance per dollar? Not for most workloads. And don't forget that IBM's latest POWER chips use the same execution engines as the SystemZ CPUs, just with different instruction decoders and a few specialised parts unique to each design; the majority of both chips is the same. When you have customers who think $1m is cheap for a machine, this helps subsidise your workstation processors.

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