Sun open-sources UltraSparc T1 processor design

San Jose (CA) - Sun today delivered on the promise to open-source the processor design of its multi-core UltraSparc T1 CPU under a free GNU GPL license. The announcement follows an earlier publication of "Hypervisor" API specifications, which allow companies to port Linux, BSD and other operating systems to the UltraSparc T1 platform.

It is the first time that a company has made complex hardware design has been released under the GNU GPL and is viewed as a strategy to enhance the visibility of Sun's processors and to increase the appetite of developers to build software and hardware solutions around the platform.

The open source release of the hardware design includes the source of the 64-bit UltraSparc T1 design, expressed in Verilog; a verification suite and simulation models; the ISA specification and Solaris 10 OS simulation images. The T1 processor, formerly code-named "Niagara," was introduced late last year and has found a home in Sun's T1000 and T2000 servers. Sun currently offers the CPU with 4, 6 or 8 cores that are able to process up to 4 threads each - for a total of up to 32 threads. Based on Sparc's V9 architecture, the T1 integrates 16 kByte instruction cache per core, 8 kB primary data cache per core and a shared 3 MB L2 cache.

Sun publishes the "OpenSparc T1" chip design and verification suites, architecture and performance modeling tools on The company also released "Cool Tools," which include a variety of programs for performance tuning of applications on multi-threaded processors as well as tools for CMT programming and profiling.

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