The UltraSPARC T2 Processor: More of Everything, Please
By Josh Simons on Aug 07, 2007
The question is, who should care?
Fortunately, this is a question easily answered.
Here is my unordered list of who I believe should pay attention to this announcement:
Customers who like the T1, but need more horsepower. The T2 has
64 threads on a single chip, up from the T1's 32 threads. Couple a T2-based
system with our SPARC virtualization technology (LDOMS) and you'll
have quite a nice consolidation platform.
Customers who like the idea of the T1, but who have workloads with
floating point requirements. The T1 has one floating point unit on
the chip to serve all 32 threads. The T2 has EIGHT floating point
units--one per core. I expect some HPC customers with throughput requirements
will find the UltraSPARC-T2 very interesting. Note the SPEC estimates cited in
the announcement materials (estimated SPECint_rate2006: 78.3, estimated
SPECfp_rate2006: 62.3.[\*]) Lots more performance data here.
Customers who have significant networking requirements in addition
to their throughput computing needs. The T2 comes with integrated,
on-chip 10 GbE.
Anyone who needs beefy crypto performance. Yep, our chip guys managed to
cram per-core dedicated crytpography functions onto the chip
Educators and entrepreneurs who will be interested in using the UltraSPARC T2 design as
the basis of their work. We expect to release the T2's design under open source, much
as we've done already with the UltraSPARC T1. We've kickstarted
with T1 and I expect to see even more interest with T2.
And, last, anyone who enjoys saying things like this (you know
who you are):
Woo-eee, look at this 1 Gbyte flash drive I just bought for $10!
I remember when we bought our first Fujitsu Eagle 1 Gbyte
hard disk in the late 1980s. It cost $10K, fit in a 19" rack, and needed two
people to lift it!
Soon (before the end of this year) you'll be able to buy a T2-based system and
say something like this:
Woo-eee, look at this 1RU (1 rack-unit = 1.75 inches) server with 64 hardware
threads, integrated 10 GbE networking, and onboard crypto I just bought!
I remember when we bought that 64-CPU Starfire system back in
the mid-1990s. It was six feet high, 40 inches wide and
weighed about 1800 lbs!
There's actually a serious point buried in that last bit of silliness, but I'll leave that for a future blog entry.
[\*] All Sun UltraSPARC T2 SPEC CPU metrics quoted are from full “reportable” runs, but are nevertheless designated as “estimates” because they use preproduction systems. SPEC, SPECint, SPECfp registered trademarks of Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation. Sun UltraSPARC T2 1.4GHz (1 chip, 8 cores, 64 threads) 78.3 est. SPECint_rate2006, 62.3 est. SPECfp_rate2006.