Sun boots Solaris on 16-core Sparc processor

  • Santa Clara (CA) – Sun Microsystems said that it has successfully booted Solaris 10 on an upcoming 16-core UltraSparc processor code-named “Rock”.

    The announcements comes about three weeks after the firm’s CEO confirmed production of the first prototypes of the processor, which is scheduled to be available after Niagara 2, which will be released sometime this year as a successor of the current Niagara CPU (UltraSparc T1).

    Because of its 16 processing units, Sun refers to Rock as a hexadeca-core CPU. Rumor has it that the processor will support a total of at least 32 threads and run in server systems with up to 256 TB of memory. Earlier in April, Sun said that it will soon provide more data about Rock as well as its vision for “the golden age of effortless parallel programming.”

    Among the Rock details released so far is a 2395-pinout, in which 812 pins are used for signal processing and 1514 pins are used for power/ground. The remaining 69 pins are unused.

    Sun's Rock processor 

    "Booting Solaris for the first time is a critical accomplishment in the development of our high-end, chip multithreading technology," said David Yen, executive vice president for Sun Microelectronics in a prepared statement. "This keeps us on track to ship our first systems based on Rock in the second half of 2008.”

    Sun’s first-generation multithreaded Sparc processor, the UltraSparc T1, was released in late 2005 and runs on eight cores with up to four threads each. According to Sun, T1 servers now account for more than $100 million of quarterly revenues for the company. Total sales of T1 servers recently passed the $500 million mark, the firm said.

    Niagara 2 is slated to be released in the second half of 2007, will have eight cores and run up to eight threads per core, according to Sun. The firm also said that the CPU will combine “all major server functions on the processor itself,” making it Sun's first "system on a chip." Sun expects Niagara 2-based systems to deliver twice the throughput of today’s T1000 and T2000 systems.

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