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Sun May Speed Up 'Niagara' Release

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Hardware

Sun's upcoming "Niagara" systems will be shipping no later than early 2006, and could even start rolling out earlier.

Andy Ingram, vice president of marketing for Sun Microsystems Inc.'s Scalable Systems Group-which handles the Santa Clara, Calif., company's Sparc-based systems-said development of the chip is going well enough that Sun may push back the release of another processor, the UltraSparc IIIi+, to make room for an earlier release.

The UltraSparc IIIi+ currently is scheduled for release later this year.

"This is an important product for us, so we're anxious to get it out as soon as possible," Ingram said. "We have an opportunity to accelerate Niagara slightly, but that might require us to push back IIIi+ a bit."

Sun has been using Niagara-based systems in-house for months, and already has sent some prototypes to customers, he said.

In an interview last month, David Yen, executive vice president of Sun's Scalable Systems Group, said the company will make Niagara-based systems available to software makers for testing of their applications on the chip.

Niagara is a key component of Sun's Throughput Computing strategy. The chip will have eight cores, each of which will be able to process four instruction threads simultaneously.

The ability to run multiple threads vastly increases the throughput of Niagara over current processors, Ingram said. Niagara will offer 15 times the throughput of UltraSparc IIIi. Niagara II will offer 30 times the throughput.

By contrast, the single-core UltraSparc IIIi+ will offer two times the throughput.

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