The processor will use a performance enhancing multi-threaded architecture, which experts say will optimise the chip's ability to run multiple tasks simultaneously.
IBM and Sun already offer dual cores where two processor cores are implemented on the same chip, effectively doubling the performance. Intel and AMD will produce dual-core 64-bit chips in 2005.
Sun said its multi-threading technology would boost performance 15-fold. It is also developing a high-end chip called Rock, which will offer a 30-fold speed increase. Forrester Research analyst Richard Fichera said, with multi-threading, each core can handle multiple tasks or "threads" at the same time.
Ian Brown, research director at analyst firm Gartner, said Niagra was targeted at users of low-end Sparc systems, where large numbers of servers were being deployed as web farms.
Multi-thread technology will enable users to consolidate a server farm, but would need to wait until 2006 before suitably equipped servers are available. Brown predicted users would migrate to Linux rather than wait for Niagra.
Sun bids to beat off Linux >>