Ok, sun is definitely on the ropes and I don’t see myself buying any of their stuff.
Still, this new UltraSPARC / Niagara processor is a refreshing new architecture choice that is actually shipping.
It is cool to see this new processor come out. I really like a real-world example of an architecture or idea. The fact that this chip can handle so many threads should give it some serious performance benchmarks. After looking at their white-papers and initial benchmarks, this is confirmed. I think they have a very compelling product for the data center. They have low power, hardware for SSL acceleration, and the ability to provide much better cpu efficiency per memory cycle. I wonder if people realize that this will accelerate non-threaded applications like Apache. They mention ‘threads’ everywhere, but I doubt that the vast majority of their customer base will realize that an Apache process is just a thread to the kernel. Given that Apache pre-forks a bunch of processes, this processor should be capable of running 8 processes easily (and deliver the appearance of running 32 at the same time).
Also, it is interesting to note that a lot of the earlier processors in the 70’s used hardware for switching thread states. For example, the computers at Xerox PARC had the ability to switch to a mouse task very easily when displaying the UI.
Again, it is hard to compete against cheaper crap in that market. People will install a cheapo 1U linux box and see web pages pop-up and be happy. The question is really: who is their market? For $3000, you can get a box that can easily compete with an x86 running dual Xeons.