Sun Microsystems new 750- and 900-MHz 64-bit UltraSparc III processor, which it unveiled today, has on-chip memory controller for capacity of up to 8 gigabytes.
Sun said UltraSparc III will be scaled up to 1.5-GHz speed in the next year. Sun also laid out its roadmap for introducing UltraSparc IV in 2002, and a 2.1-GHz UltraSparc V in 2003.
The Mountain View, Calif., company has introduced a new 600-MHz UltraSparc III chip that will be used in low-end workstation and server applications. Sun itself will include it in the low-end computer products that will be available only through auction on the Internet.
The memory controller and system controllers occupy one-third of the chip. The new chip is produced by Texas Instruments Inc. on a 0.15-micron process. The 750-MHz chip uses aluminum interconnects, but the 900-MHz version, to be avaliable in the first quarter of 2001, is Sun's first use ever of copper metallization. The chip has more than 20 million transistors, with seven layers of interconnect.
The new MPU supports a 9.6-GHz/s data rate for cache address and 4.8-GHz/s for data, which Sun officials claim is one of the highest bandwidths available anywhere. This is up to four times the bandwidth of the previous Sparc processors. The new MPU runs all existing applications that also operate on UltraSparc II processors.
The UltraSparc III uses synchronous DRAM, with the new Sun server and workstation also introduced with capacity up to 8-Gbytes.
UltraSparc III can be linked up to several hundred processors. The 9.6-Gbyte/sec address bus allows coherent cache among the massive array of interconnected processors.
The new processor, a year-and-half late, was urgently needed by Sun to update its five-year old chip architecture. With Intel and AMD planning to introduce their first 64-bit, 1-GHz processors within the next year, Sun needed a new MPU to hold its competitive lead in the workstation and server markets. Sun officials said the firm has a 60% market in the workstation market and tied with IBM with a 20% share in technical server market.