Fujitsu Readies Eight-core Sparc64 Chip

Fujitsu is developing an eight-core version of its Sparc64 processor, which should give a performance boost to the Sparc Enterprise Servers that Fujitsu jointly develops with Sun Microsystems.

Fujitsu's Takumi Maruyama mentioned the chip briefly at the end of a presentation at the Hot Chips conference in Palo Alto, California, Tuesday but he provided few details, including when the processor will ship.

It will succeed the four-core Sparc64 VII processor released in servers from Fujitsu and Sun in July. The Sparc Enterprise Servers use Fujitsu's chips and Sun's Solaris 10 operating system. The companies develop the systems together but market and sell them separately.

The eight-core processor is code-named Venus and will be manufactured using a 45-nanometer process, Maruyama said, a step up from the 65-nanometer process used for the quad-core Sparc64 VII.

It will have an embedded memory controller and offer peak throughput of 128G flops (floating operations per second), he said. He said it is being designed for the age of "petascale computing."

"I hope I can tell you more about it at Hot Chips next year," Maruyama said.

The chip will be likely be welcomed by Sun, which confirmed in a separate presentation that its own Rock processor won't ship until the second half of 2009, about a year later than originally planned.

Rock is a 16-core processor that Sun has billed as a dramatic step forward in chip design. It will be able to address very large amounts of memory and uses innovative data "pre-fetching" techniques to achieve high levels of parallelism.

Sun says the chip will offer lightening-fast performance for databases and other enterprise applications. However, the newness of the design may have contributed to the chip's delay, which Sun disclosed earlier this year.

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