Company officials say they wanted to ensure that
all the technologies in the multicore chip were ready to go.
FRANCISCO-Sun Microsystems' new multicore Rock
processor won't be ready to roll until 2009.
After Sun engineers on Feb. 6 spent part of the International
Solid State Circuits Conference
here explaining some of the technical
details and new innovations behind its upcoming UltraSPARC microprocessor,
company officials announced that they were delaying the release of the new chip
until the second half of 2009.
When Sun first began publicly talking about Rock in 2007, officials said the
chip would be ready for market by the second half of 2008. In August, Sun
released the UltraSPARC 2 chip, previously called
and since then has been releasing new systems built
around the multicore processor.
Marc Tremblay, Sun fellow and chief technology officer of its
Microelectronics Division, told eWEEK that Sun decided to push back the release
of the Rock chip to ensure that all the technology the company had invested in
worked and could be optimized for both hardware and software.
While Sun will delay this next-generation UltraSPARC processor, it will soon
release an updated, scalable version of the Niagara 2
called "Victoria Falls," designed for two-socket
systems. At the same show, Intel officials described some of the technology
behind the new Itanium
chip, code-named Tukwila,
which competes against Sun's UltraSPARC line in
the high end of the market.
In papers released at the show, Sun engineers described Rock as a 16-core
processor that will have a clock speed of 2.3GHz. The new UltraSPARC, which
will be built on a 65-nanometer manufacturing process, uses the company's CMT
(chip multithreading technology), and the entire chip will contain 32
instructional threads. The chip has also been optimized for both single and
Rock is being designed with parallel computing in mind. Tremblay said Sun
hopes the release of the chip will help spur ISVs to create more software
applications that can take full advantage of the chip's CMT
abilities. While the chip will offer a total of 32 main instructional threads,
it has also been equipped with two additional "helper" threads that
will not only pregrab instructions but also retire older instructions and clear
the memory in order to speed up performance.
"What these other threads do is move ahead of the main threads and
prepare the instructions for when the main threads catch up," Tremblay
Rock will also contain what Tremblay called transaction memory, which allows
groups of instructions to execute at the same time, leading to better
performance for large database software and banking transaction applications.
This type of technology also relates back to Sun's efforts to develop more
applications that are written to take advantage of parallel computing.
Transaction memory has also been a favorite in universities for those looking
to write the type of software that takes full advantage of parallel computing,
Rock will have a maximum thermal envelope of about 250 watts, which Tremblay
said is high, but a part of the processor can be controlled by power management
techniques. He said Sun is also looking at ways to air-cool the chip, which
will allow it to offer the performance that the company has promised.