Sun christens once and future Supernovas
Arise, AT7480 and AT7880
Last week, Sun Microsystems confirmed it's on track to ship its "Supernova" servers based on its "Rock" UltraSparc-RK processors before the end of 2009. And now the company has coughed up a few extra details.
A link on the OpenSolaris site gives the product names for two out of what could ultimately be three or maybe four different Supernova machines. The first machine is called the Sparc Enterprise AT7480, also known as Supernova Silver-II inside Sun, and the other is called the Sparc Enterprise AT7880, aka Supernova Platinum-II.
As you can see at another OpenSolaris link - which provides the internal code names for many years' worth of Sun servers (OpenSolaris team members need to know this stuff to tweak their code for specific hardware features of each platform) - there was also a Supernova Bronze box. If this machine still exists, it's presumably called Bronze-II these days and would probably be launched as the Sparc Enterprise AT7280 (if it's a two-socket box) or the AT7180 (if it's a one-socket machine). The assumption most of us are making is that the AT7480 is a four-socket Rock box and that the AT7880 is an eight-socket box. That would make the Bronze machine a two-socket box, giving us Supernova machines with 64, 128, and 256 threads.
The smaller Supernova machine, dubbed Bronze, was not on the latest list of finalized Supernova product names, and that might mean this machine has been killed off. If there is a shooter, it is probably Rock's other and smaller brother, the "Niagara" line of Sparc T multicore, multithread processors. Sun shipped a four-socket "Victoria Falls" Sparc T2+ series machine last October, and with a 16-core third generation "Niagara" Sparc T chip in the works sporting 16 threads per core, Sun might feel like it doesn't need the Supernova Bronze machine right now. It may be focusing on getting chip yields that will be used in larger - and presumably much more profitable - Sparc servers. ®
RE: Re: Matt's rant on Matt & Re:They are not full function cores
RE: Re: Matt's rant on Matt
"....I've read Sun's lab report on TM and they specifically stated that it was not expected to improve ROCKs performance on most workloads and possibly a bit more on others where TM is utilized such as DB's...." Sounds like not just a Sunshiner but a Sun employee to me. What you may be unaware of is what your salesforce and channel partners have been doing for the last two years, and that is hyping Rock beyond belief. Whilst your lab reports may hold the truth, the messgae going out to potential customers (and here I'm going on a mix of what I have received and a straw poll of sys admins and IT managers in other comapnies) is along the lines of Rock being a super-chip capable of running any existing app twice as fast as any other chip, transactional memory being some wundertech which will keep all the cores spinning, scout threads will make cache hits comparable or better then Intel's, etc, etc. As Rock has got later and later, and as Niagara has not lived up to the hype, these messages of Rock's super-powers have become even more desperate and - frankly - rediculous.
"....Are you sure you don't work for HP Matt?..." Geez, you want it in semaphore or morse code!?!?! Losing count of the times I've said this. I do not work for hp. Hp is not my employer. I do not get paid by hp to do work for them. Got that? I doubt it, it's so much easier for you to paint anyone dissenting with your views as a competitior's employee rather than face the facts that customers out there think the Sun is setting.
RE: Re:They are not full function cores
"That may be true for Niagara, but it's not true for ROCK....." Hold on a sec, Bill, only a few threads ago you were saying the niagara cores were not weiner cores, make you rmind up. But before you do, please go and compare the transistor count for Rock and the current available chips and try and explain how sixteen real cores can have so few transistors?
"....All I know is that total throughput will obliterate the competition...." Then you know nothing, because there are no Rock chips anywhere other than some lab silicon which may not even be the final cut, and I doubt if it's being fed tests such as running a major billing system with real data. So all you have is your blind faith beliefs, and no empiical data. On what I've seen so far, it looks like Rock will be hard pressed to beat SPARC64 VI let alone the real competition of Power and Itanium.
"...Why do you think that Niagara is growing over 30% quarter to quarter and that's with the single thread penalty...." Because Niagara is just eating Sun's old low-end, low-margin UltraSPARCIIi and older business, and it's not even mopping up all of that, a lot is being lost to other vendor's x64 kit. Even if it were mopping up all the old Sun low-end it still wouldn't generate enough cash to keep Sun in business, and the same for Galaxy. 30% of a small amount is still too little revenue to impress the analysts, hence the Sun-is-junk market cap.
"....The only ones that don't see the benefit of this idea are HP and IBM as they have nothing to compete against it...." Oh yeah, hp and IBM look so miserable with their massive market share advantages and healthy profits. They seem to be doing quite fine without Niagara or the Rock vapourware. Why else do you think Sun are so desperate to get hp, IBM and Dell signed up as Slowairs on x64 resellers - it's because Sun know they are exiting the server bizz soon, and they will then be reliant on other vendors shipping Slowarisx86 licences t survive.
"But no where to the same degree as for example people using VMware or POWERVM are."
So which single socket 16 domain systems does IBM sell? I haven't heard of them yet. IBM and HP are stuck with domaining on the high-end, while Sun is doing domaining all the way from a low end niagara to a highend m9000. Granted, the m9000 does not have the granularity that a powervm has, but it does have Containers with Solaris. Also, since Solaris run's on X64, you can still run VMware or even xVM Server from Sun. IBM was pretty impressive with their early adoption of VM technologies on Power, but I doubt that they will ever push those capabilities down to lower end servers and the licensing for IBM's domaining is extremely expensive.
Well I agree with you on TM. They need something to address, one of the main weaknesses of the Niagara based servers, and I would also presume ROCK, their locking problems.
On your comment to my post. I think that my post was a little unclear. What I meant was that Virtualization is bad for the Server vendors Hardware revenue.
If you take a partitioned physical server running at around 20% seen from a whole physical box perspective, and upgrade it to a new virtualized server where perhaps the cores are twice as fast and runs at 60% utilization, due to reuse of unused CPU resources, then you will actually only need 1/6th of the number of cores to run the same workload, compared to before. Hence you cut the number of resources you need and you will normally also be able to go down one or two sizes in type of server. Eg from a 32 way (highend) to a 8 way server (entry level).
This will mean that the server vendor that is selling you the server will see a significant drop in revenue, compared to if it had sold you a new box that would run at the same utilization.
And to be fair to SUN, they are using a combination semi fine grained partitioning on their Niagara boxes and containers to achive a higher utilization on the servers they sell. So they have some of the virtualization effect. But no where to the same degree as for example people using VMware or POWERVM are.