Sun presents UltraSPARC T1 processor

Posted on Tuesday, November 15 2005 @ 3:05 CET by Thomas De Maesschalck
Sun today officially launchedthe UltraSPARC T1 processor, formerly codenamed as "Niagara". The company says this is world's first high-performance, energy efficient processor and that it will debut in a new line of breakthrough Sun Fire servers before the end of 2005. Using patented CoolThreads chip multi-threading technology that leverages the threaded nature of Solaris 10, the breakthrough chip is the world's first Eco-responsible processor: research shows that UltraSPARC T1 processor performance could eliminate the number of Web servers in the world by half, slashing power requirements and having the same effect in reducing carbon dioxide emissions as planting one million acres of trees.

In an era, where most processors use 150 watts, each SPARC-based CoolThread processor uses less than half the energy of Intel Xeon or IBM Power processors at just 70 watts - consumption closer to that of many household light bulbs. This new processor offers unparalleled transactional throughput and is designed to save customers millions of dollars on skyrocketing datacenter power, cooling and space costs.

32 Systems on One SPARC-based Chip
A breakthrough in microprocessing, the UltraSPARC T1 processor features SPARC-based CoolThreads technology and a revolutionary eight cores--each having four threads--for a total of 32 threads that work simultaneously so many tasks are performed in parallel with no waiting. The chip saves energy, while increasing system throughput and employs Sun's radical CMT processor architecture to keep pace with the multi-threaded application environment of the Internet.

Breakthroughs Unique in the UltraSPARC T1 Processor:

  • First massively-threaded processor with 32 systems on a 90 nanometer die: akin to a 9.6 Ghz chip, its eight cores at 1.2 Ghz gives Sun a tremendous advantage over the competition;
  • First to put the rack on a chip: Internal communications tasks right on the chip means less metal to move across for better energy efficiency and higher performance;
  • First to put four memory controllers on a chip --which routes data between the processing cores and the memory - allowing data to be transferred into the chip as fast as it can be processed;
  • Only processor to deliver industry-leading performance at lowest power consumption: Traffic flow is increased due to minimal memory latency. Because each individual UltraSPARC T1 core is simpler, it generates less heat-- using less than 70 watts;
  • From threaded software to threaded chips: Marrying the processor and the system design yields the highest throughput. Get the most out of the world's best multi-threaded software architectures with no recompile. Using Sun Studio 11, the convergence of all three of these innovative technologies (Solaris 10, Java and UltraSPARC T1 with Coolthreads) add up to one innovation;
  • Best Security: Improves system security while delivering 10x the throughput via crypto acceleration (compared with competitive processors) and runs secure applications faster than competitive processors. UltraSPARC T1 uses lower compute cycles to do the same amount of crypto operations. Processes crypto operations using as little as 5% of CPU capacity compared with Xeon which requires 33% and POWER5+ which uses 50%.(2)

"Five years ago, our engineers realized the constraints of current processor design and went back to the drawing board in developing the CoolThreads technology. This resulting SPARC-based innovation is as significant as RISC processors and could have a similar impact as Java has had on the market," said David Yen, executive vice-president, Sun Microsystems Scalable Systems Group.

UltraSPARC T1 - The First Processor for Eco-Responsible Computing
The impact on our environment is real: If half of the entry servers sold in the last three years were replaced with UltraSPARC T1 processors, over 11 million tons of CO2 emissions, or the equivalent of that emitted by about 1,000,000 SUVs, would be eliminated each year.

Sun customer Rene Wienholtz, CIO of STRATO Rechenzentrum AG adds, "Our energy consumption usage continues to rise, due to the internal and external growth. Internal means that the existing customers use more of their allotted resources or are upgrading to a bigger product package. The external growth is given by the number of new customers we get every month. We are spending over a million dollars per year just to keep up with the demand of the datacenter and we're running out of space. Sun's new chip will help prevent us from having to build a costly new datacenter, saving time and money."

With rising global gas and energy prices, the problem of energy consumption in today's datacenters is both economic and environmental:
  • 80% of all datacenters are constrained by heat and power;
  • Hardware heat load density has more than quadrupled over the past five years;
  • 40% need to upgrade their HVAC;
  • Over 50% of datacenters register above-average temperatures.
  • Sun plans to begin shipping the new line of Sun Fire servers with CoolThreads before the end of the year.

    About the Author

    Thomas De Maesschalck

    Thomas has been messing with computer since early childhood and firmly believes the Internet is the best thing since sliced bread. Enjoys playing with new tech, is fascinated by science, and passionate about financial markets. When not behind a computer, he can be found with running shoes on or lifting heavy weights in the weight room.

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