Fujitsu, Sun Team on SPARC Processors

The companies offer details on their upcoming Unix-based chips.

After spending the past few weeks promoting their respective industry-standard server initiatives, Fujitsu Computer Systems Corp. and Sun Microsystems Inc. this week will return to their Unix roots.

Fujitsu will unveil new SPARC64 V processors that run faster than 2GHz and offer as much as 4MB of Level 2 cache, giving the companys PrimePower servers a significant performance boost. For its part, Sun, at the Spring Processor Forum in San Jose, Calif., will detail its upcoming "Niagara" platform, the first step in the companys Throughput Computing initiative.

Fujitsus chips rollout will be the last enhancement to the PrimePower line before the vendor joins Sun to launch jointly developed SPARC-based Advanced Product Line systems next year, said officials with Fujitsu, based in Sunnyvale, Calif. The chips will range in speed from 2.02GHz to 2.16GHz. Their predecessors peaked at 1.89GHz, with 3MB of L2 cache.

Fujitsus announcement comes a month after the company launched its PrimeQuest line of high-end systems, powered by Intel Corp.s 64-bit Itanium 2 processors. Fujitsu officials said that with the PrimeQuest, PrimePower and Xeon-based Primergy systems, the company offers options both among chip architectures and among operating systems.

Joe Beery, CIO at America West Airlines Inc., said the speed increase in the PrimePower systems gives users better performance in the same space as their existing servers. However, whats most important is that both Fujitsu and Sun, of Santa Clara, Calif., are continuing to support the SPARC/Solaris platform, which America West and others rely on. The airline runs its revenue management system and flight operations on PrimePower servers. "Fujitsu builds a great box," said Beery in Tempe, Ariz. "Their roots are in mainframes. Sun has a great operating system. You see these two companies continuing to work together. Their development teams work well together."

At the processor conference this week, Bill Bryg, a distinguished engineer at Sun and an architect on the companys Niagara project since its inception in 2001, will talk about Suns development of the multicore processor.

Niagara chips will hold eight cores on each piece of silicon, and each core will be able to process four instruction threads simultaneously. The systems with the chips could start appearing by late this year or early next year.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read more about Suns Niagara chips.

"From a hardware device standpoint, what we wanted to do for the software is have it look like a 32-way system," Bryg said. A key to reaching the performance heights that Sun wanted was increasing the bandwidth capabilities by getting rid of the central system bus and putting the memory controller on the chip itself, he said. Sun also made the cores in a "fine-grain" design, a move that enables the core to more efficiently execute the threads, saving time and money.

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