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Sun lays out future of UltraSparc

Sun Microsystems is close to finishing development of its UltraSPARC V processor, David Yen, Sun's executive vice-president of...

Sun Microsystems is close to finishing development of its UltraSPARC V processor, David Yen, Sun's executive vice-president of processor and network products, said at the SunNetwork conference in San Francisco.

The processor will be manufactured by Texas Instruments using a 90-nanometer process, which will allow for greater density, higher speeds and lower costs than the 130-nanometer process used for the UltraSPARC IV. The measurements refer to the width of the gates of each transistor on the chip.

The UltraSPARC IV processor should be in volume production and on sale in systems before the end of 2003, said Yen who did not offer a shipping date for the UltraSPARC V.

According to Yen, Sun will move towards creating chips that place two processor cores on a single piece of silicon, possibly starting with the UltraSPARC IV. Dual core processors would allow Sun to effectively double the processor count in its high-end servers, making them well-suited for scientific computing applications and high-end business software.

"The importance of [multicore chips] is more on the software side than on the hardware side," Yen said in an interview. "We are going to have an edge there." Yen said Sun might even move toward putting four processor cores on each piece of silicon.

In addition, Sun is working on adding networking technology it gained from the acquisition of Afara WebSystems. Chips with technology for handling network requests, such as TCP/IP calls, could particularly benefit Sun's less powerful systems.

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