Sun is releasing the design of its new UltraSparc T1 "Niagara" processor under an open-source licence, to encourage further development of the high-productivity chip design in the developer community.
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The design will be available under the widely-used General Public License (GPL) licence model.
The OpenSparc project is designed to increase the profile and relevance of Sun's Sparc family, which has recently lost market share to IBM's Power chip range, and to x86 chips from Intel and AMD.
Sun's UltraSparc T1 platform has eight processing engines, called cores. Each core is able to run four simultaneous instruction sequences, called threads.
The platform boosts processing power for users because when one thread slows, when it has to retrieve data from comparatively slow memory, a core switches to another thread to continue processing other data in parallel.
The design is being used in Sun’s T2000 servers and will be extended to the company’s forthcoming T1000 servers.