The Sun Fire T1000

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© Grebyn Corp. 2006


Sun Microsystems Niagara processor formed the basis of (at the current time) two systems, the Sun Fire T1000 and the Sun Fire T2000 .

The appeal of the chip and the systems were manifold: increased overall central processing unit (CPU) throughput - the chip was designed with up to 8 cores and 4 threads per core, leading to 32 concurrent threads; and reduced power consumption - the "CoolThreads" technology lead to the creation of a new metric SWaP (Space Watts and Performance). This new metric takes into consideration the space occupied by the system the electricity required to operate the system (and effectively a second order cost - to supply the cooling necessary to maintain its operating environment), and the performance of the system.

Niagara Chip

The T1000 and T2000 systems are power by a Niagara chip, a 64 bit UltraSparc T1 chip designed with 32 threads of execution and only 73 watts of power consumption.

One of the characteristics (some would say limitations) of the first generation Niagara chip was the availability of a single floating point unit (FPU) on the chip. When used for such applications as servers (web servers, mail servers, etc.) and many database applications, a single FPU would not significantly hamper performance and throughput. Having only a single FPU also left more space on the chip for other capabilities, such as the 3MB cache per CPU. For applications (such as mine) that are almost entirely integer computations, having only one FPU was more than enough.

T1000 / T2000

The T1000 and T2000 systems are built as 1-U and 2-U platforms respectively around the Niagara chip. The systems vary in size from CPU selection (4 cores per chip) to large (8 cores per chip), CPU speed (1.0 GHz to 1.2 GHz), memory (8 to 32 GB) with single or dual power supplies and quad gigabit Ethernet connections.

The system tested here was an 8 1.0GHz core T1000 with 16GB of memory and two 73 GB drives (part number T10Z108A-16GA2F, US$ 14,445.00). The system was ordered this way primarily because of anticipated memory requirements, although the additional drive and ethernet connections were not fully utilized.

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