Sun releases T2, its multicore processor sequel

Vendor targets virtualization apps for three new systems based on the chip

Sun Microsystems this week released its next generation of multicore chip technology, the Niagara 2 processor, which it says more than doubles the performance of its predecessor chip. Sun also disclosed that the next version of the chip, the 16-core Rock processor, will ship next year.

The UltraSparc T2, which is shipping in rack-mounted and blade server models, doubles the threads on an eight-core chip to 64, Sun said.

John Fowler, Sun's executive vice president of systems, said the latest release is part of a Sun effort to "move to systems that are designed for very high core and thread count." He also noted that the new system is ideally suited for virtualization, a direction that will envelop "basically our entire product line over time."

Sun described the T2 as an attractive virtualization platform, with logical partitions or LDoms as Sun calls them, that can support up to 64 copies of Solaris.

Fowler also noted that the development team has also married cryptographic security technology directly on the chip instead of having it on a separate card, which helps boost performance.

The new chip also offers improved floating-point capability, and it consumes 15 percent to 20 percent more power than the predecessor T1 processor, he said.

The initial product release will include a blade server, the T6320, which is priced from US$9,995, and two rack systems T5120 and T5220, which start at US$13,995.

Nathan Brookwood, an analyst at research firm Insight 64, said virtualization capabilities included with the system as well as its performance per watt, will appeal to users. He believes the new systems "will be a compelling story" to Solaris users, and to companies running Linux with applications that have a Solaris equivalent.

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Patrick Thibodeau

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