MANHASSET, N.Y. Sun Microsystems has manufactured first silicon of its next-generation Niagara processor, which isn't due to ship until 2006. The advanced chip contains eight 64-bit UltraSparc cores and will power new systems, which Sun plans to position as "throughput computing" engines capable of handing network-intensive tasks.
"We are now with a working chip," David Yen, Sun's executive vice president for scalable systems, told VARBusiness. "The 1.0 design is running in the lab. It's running the Solaris 9 operating system on top of it, with 32 application threads on top of Solaris."
The eight-core Niagara will dissipate only 60 W of power, according to Yen. That's a fraction of the 100 W or so consumed by today's dual-core UltraSparc IV and is also likely beneath the power figure expected from dual-core processors due out of Intel and AMD in 2005.
Niagara will be fabricated in an advanced 90-nm process. It also boasts a host of on-chip features, which make its design highly integrated. The initial version will include an onboard Ethernet controller and a built-in memory controller. Subsequent versions, according to Yen, "will have 10-Gigabit Ethernet and even cyptologic [capability] built on the chip."
Sun said the year-long interval until the chip comes to market will be used to bring Sun's partners up to speed.
"There's a lot of expectations for this chip," Yen said. "Our desire is when we finally release this product, it better be a big success. So during this time we are working with ISVs, handholding a few customers to a pretty deep level, to give people a chance to play with their applications running on this radical new architecture."