Sun tapes out its Niagara 2 processor
According to a report by EE Times, Sun has taped out its next-generation "Niagara 2" processor and intends to ship it before the end of the year. David Kanter over at Real World Technologies put together a detailed article about the chip last fall. In brief, Niagara 2 is a highly parallelized eight-core server processor that can handle up to eight threads per core, allowing it to juggle with a total of 64 concurrent threads. The chip is being built using 65nm process technology and will be branded the UltraSPARC T2 when it hits the market later this year. Expect the T2 to hit clock speeds up to 1.4GHz, and like Intel's latest Xeon 5000- and 5300-series processors, use FB-DIMM memory.
Interestingly, EE Times mentions that Sun may have trouble finding manufacturing partners once it needs to move down to 45nm and 32nm nodes. Texas Instruments, Sun's long-time foundry partner, has moved to an "asset-light" business model that makes it rely on third-party foundries for production, so Sun will have to shop elsewhere for future process shrinks. Sun semiconductor group head David Yen says TI has been a "fabulous partner" for the past 20 years, and that "trying to recreate that kind of partnership will be very challenging."