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Sun Outlines 64-bit Gemini Chip

Hoping to keep its edge in the server marketplace Sun Microsystems officially announced a new 64-bit processor, designed specifically for blade and thin rack-mount Web and Application servers.

The Santa Clara, Calif.-based network computer maker said its new Gemini chip is its first generation CMT (Chip Multi-Threading) UltraSPARC processor. First in Sun's h-Series UltraSPARC family, the company says the chip is capable of running dual threads, based on the SPARC V9 64-bit ISA (Instruction Set Architecture). Sun says Gemini is part of its Throughput computing initiative as is its next generation UltraSPARC chip code-named Niagara.

Running at less about 1.2 GHz in a normal mode, the chip combines two 4-issue superscalar UltraSPARC cores with a 1 MB integrated L2 cache, a DDR1 memory controller, and a JBus system bus interface.

Sun said Gemini will be pin-compatible with its UltraSPARC IIIi processor. The company estimates maximum power dissipation for the processor at 32 watts. The processor has extensive RAS features with error correction and detection. It will be binary compatible with previous generations of SPARC processors, and supported by the Solaris operating system. The chip is being produced by Sun's main chip manufacturer Texas Instruments and is expected to debut in products as early as 2004.

"Based on internal projections on throughput-oriented metrics, Gemini is expected to provide 3x the throughput compared to a UltraSPARC IIIi processor running at 1 GHz, and a 6x throughput boost relative to the UltraSPARC IIi 650 MHz processor, the currently shipping UltraSPARC processor for blades," the company said in a statement.

Sun has been tweaking its blade and ultra thin server lineup of late to battle similar offerings from rivals IBM , Dell and Hewlett-Packard . The company says its strategic advantage is that it offers both SPARC and x86 compatible servers.

Sun is highlighting some of the details of Gemini at the 15th annual Hot Chips semiconductor seminar in Palo Alto, Calif. this week.