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Sun lays out server roadmap

Mar 13, 20032 mins

* Processor technology on tap from Sun

At its Analysts Days last month Sun outlined its systems and processor roadmap and showed off some new technologies that should allow the company to consolidate processing while saving customers money.

Sun is using a technology called chip multithreading (CMT). It allows two processors to be placed on a single die and permits multiple threads to run on a single processor. According to the company’s claims, CMT implemented in servers will increase performance from 15 times to as much as 30 times over present single-threaded Sun SPARC processors.

Using servers with CMT technology, Sun claims, will allow customers to get increased performance, while saving costs by having fewer servers that consume less floor space, have lower power consumption and require less air conditioning. Systems using CMT will debut later this year and next.

In addition, Sun introduced a microprocessor family, the h-Series. The company has two existing families, the s-Series and the i-Series. The s-Series is intended for servers with enterprise-class reliability, availability and scalability (RAS), and in the future, as many as thousands of processors. The i-Series is for one- to four-processor servers that have some of the RAS features of the higher-end servers.

The h-Series, which has been optimized for the company’s uniprocessor blade servers, will use server-on-a chip technology in which networking, security and memory features are integrated. The h-Series will be introduced in 2005. One h-Series server will have as many as 32 processors on a single chip. It will have performance as much as 15 times that of current SPARC processors.

Sun will also ship in 2005 a chip codenamed Niagara that uses the 90-nm manufacturing process. Niagara may have as many as eight processors per chip, each running as many as four simultaneous threads. Sun acquired the h-Series technology last year when it snapped up Afara WebSystems, a start-up that had developed an eight-processor UltraSparc II.

The company will also upgrade its s-Series processors. Later this year it will ship the UltraSparc IV, which uses two single-threaded cores and the 130-nm manufacturing process. It will be pin-compatible with UltraSparc III processors and will be used in high-end systems. The UltraSparc IV will perform twice as fast as current processors, the company claims.

Also in 2005, the company will ship the UltraSparc V, which uses dual-threading and the 90-nm manufacturing process.