Suns New Sparcs Fly Faster

The 1.35GHz UltraSparc IV can be hot-swapped into existing servers, while the even faster IV+ processors are slated to be available later this year.

Sun Microsystems is preparing to expand the capabilities of its high-end systems with a faster UltraSparc IV processor, starting next week.

The Santa Clara, Calif. company will roll out the 1.35GHz UltraSparc IV on its four-way Sun Fire v490 and eight-way v890 servers, said Fadi Azhari, group manager for Suns Scalable Systems Group.

The new frequency is a bump over the 1.2GHz processors in current systems and improves the price/performance of the systems, Azhari said.

Within the next few weeks, Sun Microsystems Inc.s entire line of Sun Fire systems will be outfitted with the faster chip.

The faster chip also continues Suns initiative to allow the processors to be hot-swapped into existing servers, and enables businesses to run servers with a mix of the older and newer chips.

"It gives customers the maximum agility to respond to new business needs without detracting from the business," Azhari said.

Sun also is offering customers incentives to upgrade their UltraSparc II and III systems, he said.

The speed bump is the latest step in Suns plans to ramp up its high-end systems while it works to grow its new line of x86 systems running on Advanced Micro Devices Inc.s 64-bit Opteron processor.

/zimages/4/28571.gifRead more here about Suns Throughput Computing strategy.

The next step for the high-end systems will be later this year with the UltraSparc IV+ processors, which will offer two cores on a single die, faster speeds starting at 1.8GHz and 2MB of embedded Level 2 cache.

At the same time, Sun is still working on "Niagara," which will offer up to eight cores in its first generation. Each core of the chip—part of Suns Throughput Computing initiative—will handle multiple threads.

Niagara is due out early next year, with the next generation following about a year to 18 months later, David Yen, executive vice president of the Scalable Systems Group, said in an interview last month.

Sun already has systems in-house running on the chip and has begun working with a handful of customers to run their applications on those systems, he said.

Niagara will be followed by "Rock," a processor due to appear in 2008. A group of servers based on Rock, code-named Supernova, will appear after that, Azhari said.

/zimages/4/28571.gifClick here to read more about the Niagara chip.

Sun also is moving ahead with its partnership with Fujitsu Ltd. The two companies announced an agreement last year to jointly develop and market a line of Sparc-based systems—called the Advanced Product Line—next year.

In the meantime, Sun will continue developing Sun Fire systems based on the UltraSparc chip, and Fujitsu of Tokyo will roll out PrimePower systems running on its Sparc64 architecture. Azhari said Sun also has begun reselling Fujitsus PrimePower systems in the United States and Canada.

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