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Sun Moves Into Commodity Silicon

kdawson posted more than 6 years ago | from the whole-lotta-threads dept.

Sun Microsystems 236

Samrobb writes "According to Sun Microsystems CEO Jonathan Schwartz, Sun has decided to release its UltraSPARC T2 processor under the GPL. Schwartz writes, 'We're announcing the fastest microprocessor we've ever shipped this week — delivering 89.6 Ghz of parallel computing power on a single chip — running standard Java applications and open source OS's. Simultaneously, we've said we're entering the commodity marketplace, and opening the chip up to our competition... To add fuel to the fire, the blueprints for our UltraSPARC T2... the core design files and test suites, will be available to the open source community, via its most popular license: the GPL.'" Sun is still working on getting these released; early materials are up on OpenSPARC.net.

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236 comments

Sweet (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20148621)

Finally a chip that you can run Java on.

Hmm? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20148683)

If it were x86 based, I bet Windows Vista would still be slower than a snail!

Re:Sweet (4, Informative)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#20148727)

Finally a chip that you can run Java on.

Because MAJC [wikipedia.org] , picoJava [wikipedia.org] , aJile [ajile.com] , and Jazelle [wikipedia.org] don't count, right?

Re:Sweet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20148935)

Because MAJC, picoJava, aJile, and Jazelle don't count, right?
It's called a joke. You may hear a few of these on this "slashdot" website

Re:Sweet (4, Insightful)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 6 years ago | (#20150463)

It's called a joke. You may hear a few of these on this "slashdot" website

The important thing to note is that the "jokes" often lack humor, so recognizing them becomes a terrifying ordeal of memorizing the groupthink prejudices.

Re:Sweet (5, Funny)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#20150511)

fortunately, the moderation system exists so we don't have to independently decide if a post is funny , informative, offtopic, etc.

Re:Sweet (3, Funny)

Lindsay Lohan (847467) | more than 6 years ago | (#20148809)

Finally a chip that you can run Java on.
Will these "Java chips" make me look fat?

Re:Sweet (4, Funny)

bugnuts (94678) | more than 6 years ago | (#20148867)

Will these "Java chips" make me look fat?
Not if you add a little silicon(e) to the right places.

Re:Sweet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20149283)

Or in need of a solder sucker in other places.

Re:Sweet (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20148863)

Even if I could, I would not. At least not unless it is gcj'ed.

Nothing to see here, please move along. (3, Insightful)

Shadowlore (10860) | more than 6 years ago | (#20148631)

That's what I got the first time I tried loading this article on /.

But seriously, what's the real point? Are the means to actually make one of these processors beyond 99% of companies and pretty much 99.99% of the people on the planet? What about the patenting of the process or equipment to actually make the processor?

Re:Nothing to see here, please move along. (3, Insightful)

inzy (1095415) | more than 6 years ago | (#20148721)

it was beyond most people to own a computer in 1960

now most people in developed countries use dozens (including embedded systems) every day, and a desktop of awesome (by 1960s standards) power can be had for a few days salary

think big, cast aside pre-conceptions

FPGAs (3, Insightful)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#20148789)

You, Yes, I mean YOU! can easily build your own CPU using FPGAs.

Many FPGA houses provide free ARM cores etc for inclusion on their FPGAs. You can build an ARM-based (or other core based) device using free download tools and run it on an FPGA that costs a few bucks. To do this the licensee need to pay a heft licencing fee to ARm or whomever. Now they can also distribute GPL cores.

But is this really useful? To use a GPL core would mean that all the rest of the chip design would have to be released too. Very few hardware builders will be prepared to release their silicon source code because that is often the only way they have of preventing mass knock-offs etc.

Re:FPGAs (1)

ciroknight (601098) | more than 6 years ago | (#20149197)

Yes, but where in Hell are you going to find an FPGA big enough/fast enough to run a full OpenSPARC implementation?

The real advantage is two-fold. First, people become more familiar with the architecture by literally seeing what that architecture does, which means compilers optimize better for it, which means people are more likely to use SPARC. Secondly, students will use it to make derivatives and spread the SPARC architecture. There's already efforts to make a small SPARC based off a single T1 core, perhaps more models like it are planned for the future.

Could someone fork it/make a knock-off? Of course they can, but hopefully you're moving faster than they are, and likely Sun's got more money to print the chips than you do, and has the connections to make them better than you can. I personally like the idea of Open Hardware. It could end up being like Linux or ARM: Everyone ends up using it, but everyone adds their own touches to make it different/better.

GPL and chips (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 6 years ago | (#20150095)

"Everyone ends up using it, but everyone adds their own touches to make it different/better"

If the design is GPL then those people will have to release their own touches etc under GPL too. They'd rather have LGPL or BSD licensed cores.

Fully commoditised hardware is going to be a very difficult thing to get hardware companies to sign up to.

As for FPGAs... You can get a few ARM7 cores onto a single FPGA that costs less than $10 and those prices are dropping. I have no idea how complex an OpenSPARC is, but I assume it is something equivalent to an ARM9 or so and will fit in a $10-or-so FPGA.

The hurdles are not technology, but political. Sure people want free-as-in-beer cores, but they don't want GPL cores that force them to release their design.

Re:GPL and chips (2, Insightful)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#20150427)

Except the Arm7 core will cost you more then 10 bucks in license fees, unlike opensparc.

Re:FPGAs (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 6 years ago | (#20149597)

Did you miss the bit about them releasing the blueprints?

Even if creating THIS chip is over the abilities of 99% of companies/people, producing a less-powerful one based on it is very possible

Re:FPGAs (4, Informative)

WebMink (258041) | more than 6 years ago | (#20149657)

producing a less-powerful one based on it is very possible

Indeed, someone just did:

Arturo Mann proudly announces that he has successfully synthesized the S1 Core on a Xilinx Virtex-4 FPGA device...

More details on Simply RISC's [srisc.com] web site.

Silicon Tools (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#20150467)

There used to be some free tools out there long ago that would let you design the actual silicon. Not sure what ever happend to them.

Besides, they said they are releasing the entire thing in this case so that problem is sort of moot.

I'm thinking China. (4, Interesting)

khasim (1285) | more than 6 years ago | (#20148847)

Depending upon how the patents (are there patents?) are handled. China has been researching it's own chip design in the past. This could be a huge push for Sun if China abandoned trying to re-invent the wheel and just started cranking out UltraSPARC's.

Not to mention Windows not running on such, but Linux will.

And China would have a home source of chips for their IT industry and would not have to import Intel or AMD.

Re:I'm thinking China. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20149019)

If the chip gets common, Windows will arrive there. Yes, they will be late (as always -- AMD64 for example was long usable with Modern Unix-style OSes before they came out with their XP64).

Re:I'm thinking China. (0, Flamebait)

larry bagina (561269) | more than 6 years ago | (#20150639)

"researching their own chip design" = industrial espionage in taiwan for the latest x86 design.

Various options. (3, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#20148965)

One would be to build a simulator that is accurate at the level of silicon, so that you can cross-compile and run binaries for this CPU on a non-native architecture. Another would be to look at some specific module within the core and re-use the code within an OpenCores project. A third would be to reverse this - take OpenCores code (or write your own) and generate a module that would work within the T2 and would provide functionality the developers might want. A fourth would be to produce a specialized version of the chip (rad-hardened, for example) without paying license costs. And so on.

Re:Various options. (5, Interesting)

mdmkolbe (944892) | more than 6 years ago | (#20149199)

I do high performance numerical computation research, and something like this would help a lot.

As part of my research I have to hand tweak and tune the inner most loops of our algorithms. Unfortunately, the performance of moderns processors behaves so counter-intuitively when pushing the floating-point units to the max, that it is basically impossible to guess whether a certain change will speed up or slow down the computation. Being able to know *exactly* what in in the CPU would greatly help with this.

Re:Various options. (1)

DaveRexel (887813) | more than 6 years ago | (#20149481)

"I do high performance numerical computation research, and something like this would help a lot."

I find your ideas fascinating, and I would like to subscribe to your newsletter...

Re:Various options. (4, Interesting)

jd (1658) | more than 6 years ago | (#20149693)

Generally, you have a library of routines tuned to different ranges of conditions, optimized by actually running them at different settings. ATLAS does this, for example, as do a number of other optimized libraries. However, you're absolutely right that modern cores are very sensitive to a range of conditions. Lookup/interpolation units are obviously not going to respond in a fixed interval, it will depend on what point you hit. Does the FPU have enough internal memory to avoid swapping in and out of core during calculations? If you re-order operations, can you squeeze better performance out of the L1 and L2 caches? Is a composite instruction faster or slower than executing the individual opcodes that would produce the same result?

I don't know of anyone who has gone to the gate level to tune software - I've never found it necessary to go beyond a high-level definition of the processor, the sizes/speeds of the caches, the lanes between the segments, the length of each pipeline segment and other such information that can be basically listed. However, such information will not reveal unintended features (distinguished from bugs by being useful) and won't expose every possible shortcut.

HPC is fun, though I agree that modern processors are counter-intuitive. They can do some seriously weird things at times, which is why CPUburn is such an interesting program. If only the developers still maintained it. :( A CPU that can self-destruct performing legal, documented operations is a buggy CPU. That goes for any other hardware, too.

Re:Nothing to see here, please move along. (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 6 years ago | (#20149081)

I think that's intended to be a tease for the subscriber feature ... you know those subscribers are already in that article, editing comments like mad, killing your dudes, etc.

Re:Nothing to see here, please move along. (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 6 years ago | (#20149627)

I'm a subscriber and I still get that crap. See? I even have the subscriber karma bonus!

</whore>

Re:Nothing to see here, please move along. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20149845)

Jane Sixpack may not have access to a fab but it is popular with the university crowd.
Also, you don't have to have a fab to toy around with the VHDL or implement parts of it in a FPGA.

Commodity is a relative term... (3, Insightful)

igotmybfg (525391) | more than 6 years ago | (#20148663)

...when you are talking about a market with massive investment related non-recoverable expenses & high barriers to entry, such as processor fabrication.

Although I submit it would be really cool to just manufacture these things in my garage.

Re:Commodity is a relative term... (1)

norton_I (64015) | more than 6 years ago | (#20149087)

Semiconductor fabrication is already a commodity business. Outside of Intel, there are essentially no vertically integrated semiconductor manufacturers left. Lots of people can design silicon, incorporate all or part of the UltraSparc core into it, and send it off to fab. For instance, NVidia could base their GPUs off of the Niagara arch.

It isn't something that every kid and his grandma do in their garage, but lots of companies (even relatively small ones) could actually use this. Whether they will, or it will turn out to be useful, is hard to say.

Re:Commodity is a relative term... (1)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 6 years ago | (#20150103)

Yet there are enough companies who already have invested in the infrastructure, and already have a supply chain, who are making chips right now. All these companies would have to do is start cranking out UltraSparc T2s, and selling them at whatever gets them a profit. Heck, Fujitsu already sells UltraSparc processors, usually cheaper than Sun does. Now if you get one or two more companies competing to sell these chips, the price starts to drop. Sun knows that their business isn't in microprocessors, it's in the systems that they build on top of them. By making the chip a commodity, they let other companies spend money increasing the size of Sun's market. It's the same reason they open-sources Solaris, because they aren't in the business of selling operating systems, they're in the business of selling complete systems, and the more people use Solaris, the more people will want a Sun system.

AMD and Intel just shit their pants (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20148681)

Go look at the CPU cycles per watt that the UltraSPARC T1 delivers.

Now, figure the UltraSPARC T2 is better than that.

Re:AMD and Intel just shit their pants (0, Troll)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 6 years ago | (#20148765)

Go look at the performance of Windows games on UltraSPARC T1. Now, figure that UltraSPARC T2 still doesn't run Windows.

Re:AMD and Intel just shit their pants (2, Funny)

JamesRose (1062530) | more than 6 years ago | (#20149195)

To be fair, its a bit harsh expecting the guys at Sun to meet the minimum system requirements of vista on only their second atttempt at this chip.=)

Re:AMD and Intel just shit their pants (1)

figleaf (672550) | more than 6 years ago | (#20149011)

Now look beyond the advertising figures and look at the actual real world application figures.
Intel/AMD beats the pants off UltraSPARC T1
http://www.anandtech.com/IT/showdoc.aspx?i=2772&p= 6 [anandtech.com]

Re:AMD and Intel just shit their pants (3, Interesting)

MBCook (132727) | more than 6 years ago | (#20149349)

I see a 1 GHz T1 doing quite well compared to a 2.4 GHz Opteron and a 3 GHz Xeon. Things have improved on the Intel front, but the T2 should do quite well for the workloads it is designed for. Not only does it have more threads (and I think a better memory controller), but now it has one FPU per core instead of 1 per chip. That means 8x as many FPUs. That was the real weak point and now it has been addressed.

I can't wait to see benchmarks of this chip. It is far more interesting than "the same chip for 3 years ago, now 0.3 GHz faster" or "now with one more micro-op fuser and a 2% better branch decoder."

Benchmark is *BOGUS* - Sun chip was *old* (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20149843)

That comparison is between a 1.0 GHz UltraSPARC T1 - a three-year-old chip. There are 1.4 GHz chips currently available. How many months has the Intel Q6600 been on the market?

How well will that Intel architecture scale to over 4 CPUs, anyway. At least AMD can do that.

Power consumption? (4, Interesting)

Toffins (1069136) | more than 6 years ago | (#20148691)

I can't wait for somebody to design a new generation of desktop PCs that have lower power consumption than that of previous generations but without sacrificing performance and graphics. Anybody know how much power typical UltraSPARC based desktop PCs consume compared to Intel or AMD based desktop PCs?

Re:Power consumption? (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 6 years ago | (#20149297)

I can't wait for somebody to design a new generation of desktop PCs that have lower power consumption than that of previous generations but without sacrificing performance and graphics.


I believe there's a product called "Core 2 duo" from this small electronics company called "Intel".

Re:Power consumption? (2, Interesting)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#20149311)

Get a Core2Duo or one of the new low power AMDs. The just find a modern video card that is roughly the speed of a last generation card.
If you want super high performance and super low power ... Not going to happen. They will always have the option to pump up the speed buy pumping up that watts.
Top of the like will have high power draw.
You have low power options that are pretty dang fast. The trade off is just up to you.

Re:Power consumption? (1)

Toffins (1069136) | more than 6 years ago | (#20149747)

I wonder if the UltraSPARC design team might have come up with a better low-power design than either Intel or AMD. I'm quite intrigued by the press release which says "UltraSPARC T2 processor, the fastest, most energy efficient microprocessor on the market" and "lowest Wattage per core of any processor in its class". I'm curious to see some simulated or measured Wattage figures for a complete UltraSPARC T2 desktop system. Does it beat a recent Core2Duo or AMD system having a power consumption measured in the hundreds of Watts? If not now, maybe the next one; I don't accept the premise that future CPU designs will always require hundreds of Watts of power. And what are typical retail prices for complete UltraSPARC T2 PC systems?

Re:Power consumption? (1, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#20150323)

"I don't accept the premise that future CPU designs will always require hundreds of Watts of power."
You don't have to. But you can not have the fastest CPU. No matter how efficient they make the chip you will save power running it slower. There will always be a market that will trade off everything for speed. So yes you will always have to trade off power efficiency for speed. But and this is the big one. CPUs are getting faster per watt. An AMD x2 isn't a slow cpu. You can get them that only use 65 Watts of power and they are cheap.
They will be fast enough for just about anyone.

Re:Power consumption? (1)

Felix Da Rat (93827) | more than 6 years ago | (#20149799)

According to the webcast Sun had about this chip today, the T2 has dramatic electrical savings for what it provides, I think I saw at one point something along the lines of 97 watts as opposed to 160 for the cloverleaf from intel. While priced at "Under $1000"*, that's for orders of over a 1,000 units. They did say they were planning on working on less powerful and more affordable solutions for the embedded market in the next year and that this was more of a flag ship for inclusion in the server market. I'm not sure if this is ever being designed for use in the Desktop market, but there was a lot of interest about ubuntu running on it soon (already runs on the T1). One developer was asking for laptops running these, and the EVP of Sun Systems also was interested, so who knows what they'll do with this.

Very exciting news in general, I think the built in crypto co-processors for each core will make this a deal breaker for most government agencies and a lot of financial institutions. If you're interested the full webcast is here: http://www.sun.com/featured-articles/2007-0807/fea ture/index.jsp?intcmp=hp2007aug07_ultrasparct2_web cast [sun.com] and requires RealPlayer and is roughly 1:17:17 or so.

Re:Power consumption? (1)

Toffins (1069136) | more than 6 years ago | (#20150021)

97 Watts is impressively low. Any idea how much power a complete UltraSPARC T2 system would consume? It's a shame Sun may not be targeting the desktop market. I would straightaway buy several such desktop systems if they were priced below $1000 as a way of cutting down on power consumption.

Re:Power consumption? (1)

Wesley Felter (138342) | more than 6 years ago | (#20150197)

Desktop processors from Intel and AMD are in the 40-65W range; do you still want a desktop Niagara machine?

Also, desktop apps run dog-slow on Niagara because they mostly only use one core.

Re:Power consumption? (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 6 years ago | (#20150649)

The UltraSPARC T2 has 8 cores, each of which runs 8 threads of execution in parallel, for a total of 64 threads of concurrent execution. If you want to make it comparable to the desktop chips from Intel or AMD, you'd need to generate a chip (from the now OSS tools) with fewer cores. I'd imagine that a quad core T2 would use a similar amount of power, but with vastly more parallel processing capability than your average Core Duo.

Re:Power consumption? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20150655)

Very exciting news in general, I think the built in crypto co-processors for each core will make this a deal breaker for most government agencies and a lot of financial institutions.

Sure. Now all you have to do is teach my IA overlord what crypto is. And what a processor is. And why Word won't run on this computer.

Re:Power consumption? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20150265)

Rumor has it that the cpu will run about $500 a piece.

Which GPL? (4, Interesting)

junglee_iitk (651040) | more than 6 years ago | (#20148695)

Nothing that it matter... just interested, but does anybody know if it is released under GNU GPL 2 or 3?

Re:Which GPL? (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 6 years ago | (#20148771)

It actually matters a lot because Sun probably owns a lot of patents.

Re:Which GPL? And Sun's future... (5, Interesting)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 6 years ago | (#20149107)

Nothing that it matter... [is it] GNU GPL 2 or 3?

It actually matters a lot because Sun probably owns a lot of patents.


Too true.

If I've got this right: Under GPL3 anybody with foundry access could make the chip or a derivative, with no more patent issues than Sun itself would have. But under GPL2 they might have to enter separate license agreements to actually implement it.

= = = =

Presuming this release does make the chip open to anybody absent further licensing, it will be interesting to see how it affects Sun's future.

On one hand it means any company that wants to could build the chip and sell it in competition with Sun (which has borne the development costs on the SPARC series - but recouped much of them already).

On the other hand, they have a number of advantages: Already up and fabbing, deep understanding of the chip, etc.

Further, one big source of resistance to adoption of their chips is the concern for what happens if Sun abandons the line, stops developing it, goes belly-up, or closes up again. With a perpetual license to others to build this chip and make improvements on it, that's no longer an issue. Even if Sun went belly-up and left them with no other sources, a big enough company with a product based on this chip could even commission the fabrication of its own chips, rather than twisting in the wind for lack of supplies. So such a company can design this chip into their product line and buy it from Sun without betting their own company on a possibly weak supplier.

Let's see Intel or AMD compete with that that. B-)

And with respect to patent reform ... (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | more than 6 years ago | (#20149167)

Oh, yes:

If Sun's open-sourcing of this chip leads to a big boost for them, just IMAGINE what an argument that will be against the utility of the government-enforced monopoly in the patent reform debate. B-)

Re:Which GPL? And Sun's future... (2, Interesting)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 6 years ago | (#20149419)

I am actually hoping that AMD or Intel decide that there is useful technology they can use in their own chips.

Especially AMD who needs whatever they can get at the moment. It is really far fetched, but possible we see AMD respond with a GPL chip that uses parts of Sun's tech they find useful. If they can get ahead of Intel for another generation or two it could be worth it to them.

Re:Which GPL? And Sun's future... (1)

griffjon (14945) | more than 6 years ago | (#20150253)

Another advantage is that no business in their right mind would enter into the chip market as a direct competitor, but embedded or other technologies will be encouraged by the GPL availability, spreading Sun technology.

Re:Which GPL? (2, Informative)

WebMink (258041) | more than 6 years ago | (#20149485)

The original T1 design was released under GPLv2 a while back, and the new T2 design will be released under GPLv2 for now as well. Using GPL v2 creates an implicit patent license so while using GPLv3 would make the situation cleared GPLv2 is probably sufficient.

And yes if you look at the map on the opensparc.net page (when they get some quota back after being slashdotted) you'll see they are getting a vast amount of interest from China, where I gather a company is already producing an OpenSPARC T1-derived chip for embedded use.

Finally... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20148731)

Something that will run Java apps at a decent speed *ducks*

On the Bandwagon (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20148773)

Yay, another outdated, legacy architecture chip, from the makers of everyone's favorite toy programming language.

Great for students doing simple little FPGA projects, pretty much useless to everybody else. This is just jumping on the tired old bandwagon.

This week? (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#20148971)

We're announcing the fastest microprocessor we've ever shipped this week

"We shipped a faster one last week!"

(Apologies to MST3K and the classic flick Diabolik.)

Language? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20149035)

Anyone heard what language this proc is in? Verilog or VHDL?

-x

Re:Language? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20150029)

Verilog. Reasonably readable, too.

Sparc co-processor? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20149045)

What workloads does sparc excel on? Is there any gains from running one as an add-in on PCIe and could an existing VM solution be hacked to take advantage of it?

Re:Sparc co-processor? (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 6 years ago | (#20149561)

The T1 excels at large scale parallel integer operations. It had up to 8 cores and 32 execution units per chip. The biggest drawback was that there was one shared anemic FPU per chip so if even a relatively small amount of your workload was floating point performance took a serious dive. There were crypto functional units on the chip to help with SSL to combat this. The T2 is basically a refined T1 with the addition of a FPU per core. I'm not sure I can imagine an application where you would be better served with a T2 coprocessor card than a T2000 equivilant with 2 chips.

Abandoware open source (1, Troll)

Animats (122034) | more than 6 years ago | (#20149059)

This is one of those moves where some abandonware is being open sourced. Usually this happens with software, but here it's happening for hardware. The SPARC line is in decline; Sun is moving to x86 machines. Sun's hardware business is on the same trajectory as SGI's, but about five years behind. (Remember SGI, the MIPS processors, the overpriced x86 workstations, the bankruptcy?)

As Wikipedia points out [wikipedia.org] , Sun already did this for the UltraSparc T1 in 2006. Nobody cared. Now they're doing it for the UltreSparc T2.

This might be useful if someone needed to emulate a SPARC CPU twenty or fifty years from now. So it's good to have the details of the CPU design on the record for historical purposes. But nobody is going to manufacture the things.

Re:Abandoware open source (2, Interesting)

fm6 (162816) | more than 6 years ago | (#20149453)

I work at Sun (documenting x86 systems, as it happens) and I think you're really oversimplifying our business strategy. Just because we're doing x86 doesn't mean we're abandoning SPARC. Indeed, I see a lot of work going on with SPARC-based products. You might consider this a bad idea. (For obvious reasons, I can't possibly comment.) But it's the current business plan, and as long as that's the case, SPARC is not abandonware.

Re:Abandoware open source (5, Informative)

WebMink (258041) | more than 6 years ago | (#20149607)

Nobody cared.

Well, apart from Simply RISC [srisc.com] , who used the design to build a single-core chip (S1) for embedded applications.

And Polaris Micro [polarismicro.com] in China, who are doing the same.

And David Miller & friends, who made Linux run on it.

And Canonical who support Ubuntu running on it [ubuntu.com] .

And the other Linux distros picking it up.

And... Oh, sorry, you were just trolling, right?

Re:Abandoware open source (3, Informative)

afidel (530433) | more than 6 years ago | (#20149661)

The T1 is NOT abandonware, in fact I would say it is one of Sun's greatest strengths. We are doing a design for a JD Edwards data warehouse and while our JDE system is on Oracle on Windows we are looking at Unix platforms as strong choices for the data warehouse. Thanks to only needing 6 total boxes for the middleware layers for 4 different environments vs 16 Windows boxes Sun is 10% cheaper and 10% lower in 3 year operating costs despite having power sucking, expensive DB servers.

Nobody? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | more than 6 years ago | (#20150491)

There are a couple of companies that are making a living off sparc clones now. sure not many, but id not call it 'nobody'.

And lots of people cared about the T1.

crap... (-1, Offtopic)

ItsLenny (1132387) | more than 6 years ago | (#20149205)

good as a toy if you're rich and wanna be like... "LOOK WHAT I GOT!!!"

however they say they wanna use it for marketing purposes such as wrapping it around street furniture [tech.co.uk] ...

HOWEVER it also says in this part [tech.co.uk] that it needs to be viewed from 180 (straight on)... which would make it invisible to passing vehicles almost always and i'd imagine since it's "not as bright as a standard LCD" that the sun light will just wash it out anways...

cool tech honestly.. but mostly useless I say

Re:crap... (1)

setagllib (753300) | more than 6 years ago | (#20149351)

Because wrapping an open source CPU around street furniture is great advertising. I think you have the wrong article.

What, exactly, does GPL cover? (1)

r_jensen11 (598210) | more than 6 years ago | (#20149471)

As far as I knew, GPL only covered copyright. If this is the case, then Sun would still be protected by patent law. Unless GPL covers patents too.... Anyone know?

No fab needed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20149563)

Now that the design is available, it may be possible to implement this chip without needing a fab.

http://hardware.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=02/05/ 11/016223 [slashdot.org]

For a while, everyone was excited about being able to implement various CPUs using FPGAs. As the link points out, it has even been done for a couple of SPARC chips. In theory, Sun has just given us the wherewithal to implement a more powerful CPU. It might not be quite as fast and it might take more than one FPGA and it might be prohibitively expensive but ...

I have no intention of trying to implement this chip. I also note that most of the links on implementing different CPUs on FPGAs peter out some time around 2002. On the other hand, you sometimes need a chip that is no longer available. A couple of years ago NASA was scouring the planet to find out-of-production chips. In that light, using an FPGA to implement random chips might not be so nuts.

Re:No fab needed? (1)

wik (10258) | more than 6 years ago | (#20150057)

There is a successful FPGA project for the T1. The OpenSPARC engineering people were at FCRC/ISCA this summer demoing the T1 running "adventure" on an FPGA board.

Is this just to bury the sun4m folk? (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 6 years ago | (#20149689)

Now if they'd get S-Bus/hardware specs opened up on a "hobbyist RAND" basis, then you could bury the sun4m specific bits for good. Otherwise, to not aim to this crowd in some form would be stretching the "commodity silicon" term, as well as insisting on sun4m be buried and gone.

Commodity silicon exists, and it's not done on SPARC.

Jonathan Schwartz... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20150003)

Hmmmm, doesn't sound Greek.

End of SPARC near? (1)

Ricin (236107) | more than 6 years ago | (#20150345)

Not hindered by any actual knowledge about the processor, but this was my first thought:

Considering it's Sun, this to me seems to have all the hallmarks of a farewell bid by "going open source" and hoping to hop onto the momentum it generates, if any.

Five years from now, sparc will be history. Not for being bad or outdated, but because nobody really cares. And I think they know it.

I might be wrong but I think that i386, and perhaps more specifically AMD/64 ultimately are just not possible to compete with, with specs going up (relatively) and costs going down (relatively).

It's quite possible that sparc is much better but like I said, no one will care (also relatively).

Re:End of SPARC near? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20150565)

Five years from now, sparc will be history. Not for being bad or outdated, but because nobody really cares. And I think they know it.


Sun will definitely lose the megahertz race, but when it comes to scalability it'll still be there. Like it or not, a Beowulf still isn't giving an E25k a run for its money on the enterprise front. I do like that Sun is embracing Opterons at low end though.

FAQ on performance of this puppy (4, Informative)

mritunjai (518932) | more than 6 years ago | (#20150499)

Just to quell the concerns of "abandonware" and cries of "performance benchmarks"

Linky on numbers [sun.com]

Summary:

* This puppy comes ahead of Power5 and top-dog (till now) Power6
* Highest single CPU integer and floating point performance

Oh, and it has 2 10G network interfaces on chip... and EIGHT crypto cores to keep them running full throttle too. All this with 8 core each with its own floating point unit and 8 threads.

Oh and BTW, Ubuntu guys just booted their distro on this puppy :-)

So yeah, it runs Linux (too)!

Re:FAQ on performance of this puppy (1)

Ricin (236107) | more than 6 years ago | (#20150573)

It certainly wouldn't be the first time that a great design dies anyway, would it? No interest, no momentum, no extra sales. That's a whole different thing than technical merits.

And yeah, even if I don't have one, my FreeBSD ports do support and should compile and run properly on sparc64 (It's considered tier-1), but I can only read what the build cluster's or some random user's results were. And that's the whole point, for the vast majority of developers and users, it's just not going to stick because almost noone has it. And I don't think that will change.

No lawsuit, like MIPS suing Longsoon? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20150637)

So ... if the chip is under GPL, they have no problem with China fabbing it and won't sue like MIPS did? ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godson [wikipedia.org] )

...hell, while I'm on the subject, can any Slashdot reader confirm or deny the assertion that the whole 'Godson' / 'Dragon Chip' processor is absolutely nothing but prototypes, and demo units, with no computer system whatsoever purchaseable on the Internet for personal use?

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