Suns Jaguar Powers Transactions

Sun's rack unit sports new 1,200MHz chips from TI.

Glimpsed on a test bench at Sun Microsystems San Diego development lab, this rack units label suggests imminent release of the "Jaguar" UltraSPARC IV processors that the company has promised for shipment in the first half of next year. The 1,200MHz label confirms previous speculation that the new chip, built by Texas Instruments on a 130-nanometer process, would debut at that clock rate.

Sun personnel at the lab promised that the new processor units would mix and match with units containing older CPUs, enabling incremental upgrades with full software compatibility in existing server installations.

Each UltraSPARC IV combines two UltraSPARC III cores with on-chip tag storage for 8MB of off-chip, two-way, set-associative Level 2 cache per core. Sun officials project that the new chips thread-friendly design, based on technology acquired last year from Afara Websystems, will enable tens of concurrent threads, each with access to the full cache bandwidth—initially doubling, and eventually redoubling, the throughput of UltraSPARC III. Each chips onboard memory controller supports 16GB of memory, allowing as much as 64GB on the four-processor unit, with processors sharing memory via their built-in controllers for Suns Fireplane interconnection fabric.

TI and Sun project a move to 90-nanometer technology by 2006, with a shrink to 45 nanometers perhaps as early as 2008.