Sun tapes out 64-thread T2 processor

San Jose (CA) - Buried in a press release that touts the availability of a new entry-level T1000 server, Sun indicated that it is preparing mass production of the next-generation UltraSparc T2 CPU, which will be able to process up to 64 threads simultaneously - or up to 256 threads in a four-way server system.

The new processor, code-named Niagara-II, had its first production run in March and apparently showed few bugs, which should allow Sun to clean up the design in a matter of a few months. While the company did not announce any details on a commercial launch date for the CPU, industry sources speculated that Sun will be aiming for an introduction sometime in 2007.

According to Sun, the T2 will be capable of running 64 threads, twice as much as in the T1. This may be an indication that Sun is simply doubling the amount of cores from four to eight to achieve higher parallelism. Each core will run eight threads.

The clock speed of the T2 is still a mystery, but it is expected likely that Sun will not increase the current maximum of 1.2 GHz by much in order to stay in the T1's thermal design envelope of 79 watts. A transition from a 90 to 65 nm structure, however, could enable Sun to bump the clock by a couple hundred MHz without having to adjust the chip's thermal design power rating.

Once available, the T2 could provide customers who rely on Solaris-based computer systems with a substantial speed upgrade, especially with four-CPU computers and 256 simultaneously processed threads.

The T2's predecessor, the T1, is currently offered in a 1U Fire T1000 server, which is available from about $3000.

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