From: Therese Poletti, San Jose Mercury News
Published November 15, 2005 12:00 AM

Sun Unveils New CoolThreads Energy-Efficient Chip Aimed at Mid-Range Market

Sun Microsystems announced a much-anticipated chip for its servers called CoolThreads, a microprocessor Sun hopes will help it become more competitive in its core product line against rivals like IBM.

The chip, formerly known by its code name, Niagara, will power new Sun servers coming before the end of this year. The new computers will be aimed at the mid-range of the corporate server market, where they will also compete against Sun's lower-cost Galaxy servers based on Opteron chips from Advanced Micro Devices.

Servers are large computers that run Web sites, process transactions and power data centers.

CoolThreads, part of Sun's UltraSPARC family, is described by Sun as an energy-efficient processor. Sun said CoolThreads uses less than half the power that Intel's Xeon chips or IBM's Power processors do. CoolThreads uses about 70 watts of power, the wattage of an average household light bulb.

Sun is making a big push to highlight its energy-efficient products. Today, Sun Chief Technology Officer Greg Papodopoulos will be on a panel that Sun is hosting in San Francisco, moderated by KQED's Michael Krasny, to discuss eco-responsibility.

Like recent chips from Intel and AMD, CoolThreads is a multi-core chip, meaning it has several processors on one chip. CoolThreads also uses a technique called multi-threading.

CoolThreads has eight processor cores on one chip, which in turn each execute four instruction sequences, called threads. This means that 32 threads work at the same time for better system performance and efficiency.

"SPARC for some time has not been highly regarded for various reasons," said David Yen, Sun's executive vice president of the company's scalable systems group. Sun's SPARC chip family had lost its advantage against rivals. "We adopted a completely different design philosophy," Yen said, referring to multi-core chips which process data more efficiently than previous chip designs.

Sun said its CoolThreads chips run at clock speeds of 1 and 1.2 gigahertz.

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Source: Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News

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