At 900 MHz, the World’s Fastest 64-bit Workstation-Server Processor
Sun Microsystems, Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW) and Texas Instruments Incorporated (NYSE: TXN), confirmed today that copper interconnect-based versions of the award-winning UltraSPARC® III microprocessor have passed all internal qualifications tests and are planned for shipment in Sun Blade[tm] 1000 workstations within the next 90 days. At 900 MHz, the new version of the UltraSPARC III processor combines copper interconnect with low-K dielectric, and a 100 nanometer gate transistor to maintain its status as the world’s fastest commercially available 64-bit workstation-server processor.
David Yen, vice president and general manager, Sun Microsystems Processor Products Group said: “Implementing copper, low-K dielectric and a new transistor deliver a triple play in giving us enhanced flexibility to field new variations of the UltraSPARC III chip that offer higher clock speeds, lower power consumption, greater reliability, lower memory latency andother features essential for workstation and server computing. While clock frequency speed bumps have their benefits, working with TI, we focus our engineering program on developing processors that deliver real-world application performance and end-customer value.”
Julie England, vice president of TI’s Sun Business Unit, commented: “As Sun’s supplier of the UltraSPARC III processor, TI is proud to help Sun achieve industry-leading levels of performance and power efficiency through TI’s advanced process technology and manufacturing. By combining copper, low-K dielectric and 100 nanometer transistros on TI’s 0.15 micron process we have boosted performance over competing devices. TI looks forward to working with Sun to enable the UltraSPARC processor roadmap well into the GigaHertz era.”
Multiple Upgrades at the Process Technology Level
Initially launched last September, the UltraSPARC III processor forms the heart of the new generation of Sun Microsystems’ workstation and server products. Previous versions of the processor utilized aluminum interconnect technology. Migrating to copper for the high volume version of the 900 MHz UltraSPARC III processor enables a clock speed increase while dissipating the same power as the aluminum interconnect-based 750 MHz UltraSPARC III chip. Successfully managing power consumption as processor speeds and technology advances is not only important in these times of energy scarcity, but it reduces the need to build extensive heat management subsystems into products, lowering their manufacturing costs and improving their reliability.
Sun and TI also confirmed today that after evaluating test chips using silicon on insulator (SOI) substrate technology offered by a number of vendors, they believe bulk silicon offers competitive performance at lower cost than SOI as UltraSPARC products move to smaller process geometries.
Texas Instrument’s First High Performance, Copper-based Commercial Chip
The copper version of the UltraSPARC III processor is TI’s first high performance commercial chip utilizing this interconnect system. This highlights the unique design and manufacturing technology relationship between Sun and TI, which recently celebrated its 13th anniversary. Through the collaboration, Sun and TI co-plan and co-engineer advanced process technologies that go to market first in Sun’s UltraSPARC processors. Sun benefits from the relationship by getting first access to the latest technology. In return, TI gains a development driver and first customer for high performance technology that is implemented across TI’s world-leading digital signal processors and DSP-based system solutions in end equipment areas such as wireless and broadband.
Also, engaging with TI for leading edge processor manufacturing means that Sun can stay cost- and technology-competitive with others in its marketplace without making multibillion dollar investments in a Sun-owned fab. Sun management credits the technology relationship with TI as one of the reasons that the SPARC architecture proved successful and commercially durable even as the microprocessor market consolidated around otherwise dominant players over the last decade, and Sun faced down companies much larger than itself in its system products marketplaces.
UltraSPARC III Processor Background
Currently shipping in the Sun Microsystems Sun Fire[tm] server product line and Sun Blade workstations, the UltraSPARC III processor offers a balanced, multidimensional portfolio of industry-bests in nearly every category of performance crucial to client-server computing: clock speed, scaling capability, multiprocessing linearity, and processing bandwidth.
The UltraSPARC III microprocessor comprises 29 million transistors with features including an integrated memory controller and 9.6 Gigabyte-per-second system interprocessor bus for massive scalability; support for a large 8 Megabyte, Error Checking and Correcting (ECC)-protected external cache; and a unique error isolation and correction Uptime Bus for high-system reliability. The UltraSPARC III processor design is the only microprocessor on the market with an integrated memory controller supporting up to 16 Gigabytes of memory-per-processor and frequency isolation to allow mixed-speed CPU support within a single system.
Since its commercial introduction last fall, the UltraSPARC III processor has attracted rising recognition as a leading edge example of 64-bit processor technology, culminating in its naming as the Best Workstation and Server processor at the 2001 Microprocessor Report Analyst Choice Awards event on January 18, 2001.
About Sun Microsystems, Inc.
Since its inception in 1982, a singular vision — “The Network Is The Computer™” — has propelled Sun Microsystems, Inc. (Nasdaq: SUNW), to its position as a leading provider of industrial-strength hardware, software and services that power the Internet and allow companies worldwide to take their businesses to the nth. With $18.3 billion in annual revenues, Sun can be found in more than 170 countries and on the World Wide Web at http://sun.com.