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Sun aims for '09 with Rock boxes

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Exclusive Servers based on Sun Microsystems' Rock processor will now arrive in the second half of 2009, The Register can confirm.

Last Dec., we reported on speculation that Rock had suffered a delay, shifting to 2009 from its late 2008 original delivery forecast. Now one of Sun's top engineers Marc Tremblay has confirmed the "second half of 2009" date for systems delivery, during an interview here at the International Solid State Circuits Conference. Sun had looked to spook rivals Intel and IBM with its much-ballyhooed 16-core chip but will now trail at least Intel with a major high-end processor refresh.

According to Tremblay, the "innovation in the processor required more than expected testing and certification." He and others have billed Rock as a major, major advance in high-end processor design. The processor has 16 cores, can tap immense amounts of memory and employs a number of aggressive pre-fetching and out of order software/hardware techniques.

During ISSCC, Tremblay disclosed a 2.3GHz target speed for the 410m transistor chip, which Sun expects to consume 249 watts and boast 680Gb/s of memory I/O bandwidth.

Had Sun shipped Rock on time, it would have matched up well against Intel, which plans to release a revamped version of Itanium at the end of this year. Now Sun looks to end up about a year behind Intel-based vendors with much improved silicon and a year ahead (or less) of IBM's Power7 release. ®

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