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Sun will be seeing double with Niagara II

64 threads and counting

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Exclusive Sun Microsystems has at last delivered its first batch of Niagara-based servers, and you've no doubt read plenty about the boxes here or elsewhere. What you haven't read much about is Niagara II. We're here to help.

On the record, Sun has stated that Niagara II will have close to twice the performance of Niagara I - aka UltraSPARC T1. The chip will be built on a 65-nanometer process, include support for multiprocessor servers and probably arrive in 2007.

Documents obtained by The Register reveal more exact specifications for Niagara II. In particular, the chip will have eight cores, just like the first version, but support 8 threads per core, which is twice as many as Niagara I. In total, Niagara II will crunch through 64 threads, up from 32 in the current part.

Sun has taken some flack on Niagara I because the chip has a single floating point unit. That changes with Niagara II as well. This chip will have one floating point unit per core - an item seen in our documents and confirmed by Jeff O'Neal, a director in Sun's engineering group.

"When you go to Niagara II and look there, you have to keep the ratios the same," O'Neal said. "So there, moving to a floating point unit per core is the next logical place to go."

Improving floating point performance should help Sun address a wider software pool than just the web and application serving markets current Niagara-based systems target.

Niagara II will also have improved crypto processing functions, come in a smaller package and include support for up to 64 fully-buffered DIMMSs.

The Sun documents show that 2007 is the likely delivery date for Niagara II with an initial clock speed of at least 1.4GHz. ®

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