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Sun Unveils UltraSPARC T1

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Sun Microsystems Inc. on Sunday announced its latest microprocessor, UltraSparc T1, codenamed Niagra, touted to be more powerful than its predecessors and uses lesser energy.

The T1 chips use the company’s "CoolThreads" multi-threading technology to take advantage of capabilities in the Solaris 10 operating system, Sun said. T1 uses just 70 watts of power, less than half the energy needed to power rival microchips, the company said.

The T1, which has eight processing cores on a single piece of silicon to give it more computing power, will be the brains of a line of forthcoming Sun Fire servers due by year’s end that will run Sun’s Solaris version of the Unix operating system.

Fadi Azhari, a Sun marketing director, said the new chip is capable of performing more tasks, which is critical as the demand for more computing capacity grows on the Internet.

"Millions of people are going online," he said. "More and more businesses are getting connected to this environment. We believe that there is a need for a fundamental change that needs to happen at the microprocessor architecture level to address to those needs."

“Sun is pushing chip multithreading (CMT), which IBM’s Power chips have had for some time,” IBM spokesperson Sriya Kodial said in a written statement. “Why would customers go with Sun’s new processor platform when IBM has proven CMT technology and industry-standard benchmarks that continue to demonstrate the superior performance and speed of Power?”

Sun played up the efficiency advantages of the new T1 processors, declaring that if the entry-level servers sold in the last three years were replaced with T1-powered machines, it would represent the elimination of more than 11 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions, the equivalent of 1 million SUV automobiles.

The company also pointed to business reasons for the new chips, citing rising temperature control and power costs in the datacenter.