Sun Introduces the UltraSPARC T2 Processor

August 7, 2007

Today, Sun introduces the UltraSPARC T2 processor, the fastest, most energy efficient microprocessor on the market.[1] By scaling performance through threading and integrating networking, security and I/O onto the processor itself, the UltraSPARC T2 processor delivers more throughput, performance, and functionality per watt than any processor in its class.

With eight cores and 64 threads, the UltraSPARC T2 processor blends high performance and low power consumption with three, essential functions on one piece of silicon: Multi-threaded 10 GbE networking, crypto acceleration, and PCI-Express I/O expansion.

“The UltraSPARC T2 makes possible a new breed of compact, power-efficient, highly integrated devices–going beyond servers to routers, switches, network devices, medical imaging, industrial printing and more,” said David Yen, executive vice president of Microelectronics for Sun.

The chip’s thrifty, energy efficient design continues Sun’s commitment to delivering eco-friendly processors, systems, programs, and services to help enterprises reduce environmental impact and energy costs.

“This is truly a system on a chip,” said Fadi Azhari, director of marketing for Microelectronics at Sun. “Nobody in the world has even a fraction of the threads we are delivering. And we’ve taken major steps with the integration of additional chip multi-threading capabilities right on the chip. When it comes to serving the thread-rich environment that’s growing out there, this is the highest performance processor in the industry.”

Throughput and Performance

Sun’s new UltraSPARC T2 processor raises the chip multi-threading (CMT) bar set in 2005 by the UltraSPARC T1 processor. The new version is unique in that it scales its performance through threading, not through increases in the clock speed, massive enlargement of the caches, or through packaging gimmicks, such as MultiChip Modules (MCMs).

“The competition is simply continuing the brute-force method of increasing clock speed and creating trade-offs between performance and power consumption,” says Azhari. “Sun’s approach with this processor line is much more holistic, based on efficient threading and the integration of key functions onto the chip itself.”

Sun’s unique, multi-threaded 10 GbE technology allows for network-interface virtualization, which helps eliminate bottlenecks when consolidating multiple applications on a single server, and assists in accelerating server-to-server communications for better rack performance.

Meanwhile, integrated, accelerated cryptography capabilities built into the chip enable virtually full security without the performance penalties usually associated with cryptography in software.

Open Source Processor

What’s more, Sun is giving developers a first look at the inner workings of the processor by releasing the OpenSPARC T2 Technology Programmer Reference Manual and the OpenSPARC T2 Technology Microarchitecture Specification through the GPL, and launching an NDA Developer Beta program. Developers will find all of these at

Application Support

The chip’s 64 processor threads, multithreaded networking, and Solaris 10 Operating System (OS) Containers and Logical Domains (LDoms) make it an optimum platform for consolidation projects, allowing as many as 64 domains on a single processor.

The flexible new processor is also well-suited for a diverse set of applications, including enterprise-grade Java technology, database, and mail servers, and ERP, CRM, and HPC applications. This commodity processor is also available for OEMs. Potential embedded uses for it include network infrastructures, next-generation telco, and WiMax infrastructure and proxy servers.

Multi-threading Throughout the Stack

The new UltraSPARC T2 processor is a natural progression of Sun’s CMT efforts, which rely strongly on the multi-thread capabilities inherent in its flagship Solaris OS and associated CoolThreads technology. “We’ve thought through multi-threading at the OS level, as well as the CPU level, as well as in networking. This has been our vision for a long time,” Azhari says. “Solaris gives you the premier mission-critical operating system in the industry and it’s been multi-threaded for years.”

About Sun Microsystems, Inc.

A singular vision — “The Network Is The Computer” — guides Sun in the development of technologies that power the world’s most important markets. Sun’s philosophy of sharing innovation and building communities is at the forefront of the next wave of computing: the Participation Age. Sun can be found in more than 100 countries and on the Web at