Sun gears up for fresh enterprise push

Sun gears up for fresh enterprise push

Sun Microsystems Inc., of Palo Alto, Calif., is embarking on a number of initiatives to help customers consolidate systems.

'Everyone in government is working on consolidation,' said Clark Masters, executive vice president of global industries, at this week's Sun User Performance Group in Washington. Clark oversees the company's U.S. federal operations in addition other industries.

SuperG, as the conference is called, was held in Washington. It allows Sun users to share technical information and get early glimpses of the company's future plans.

Marc Tremblay, chief architect of scalable systems for Sun, talked about the company's upcoming replacements to its UltraSparc microprocessor, which will include advances the company hopes will help organizations consolidate their data centers. In September 2006, the company plans to start using a new eight-core chip, called Niagara, in its servers.

Tremblay said the new processor could help reduce the electricity bills of data centers because it consumes only 60 watts, half to one-third the power consumption of high-performance commodity chips from Advanced Micro Devices Inc. and Intel Corp. Despite a lower clock speed and smaller power envelope, the eight-core chip will perform as well as the Intel and AMD products, thanks to the multiple cores and the multithreading capabilities, Tremblay said.

Sun will encourage organizations to factor electricity into the total cost of ownership for their systems, as power use is a growing concern for data centers. Tremblay said he has seen the electricity bills of some Internet-based operations account for 15 to 20 percent of their monthly spending. A data center that replaces 500 machines running UltraSparc servers with 17 Niagara servers can reduce a three-year electricity bill from $1.1 million to $34,000, he claimed.

Tremblay also talked about Niagara's successor, code-named Rock, due in the third quarter of 2008.

Although Sun is still keeping many of the details about Rock under wraps, Tremblay talked about one new feature, called Hardware Scout, which should speed the processor's throughput. Hardware Scout looks for threads that will likely be executed in the upcoming cycles and executes those in case they are needed. By completing threads ahead of time, the processor makes use of its idle cycles.

About the Author

Joab Jackson is the senior technology editor for Government Computer News.

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