Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sun Sparc T4

Something about Oracle Sparc T4 doesn't roll off the tongue right so we shall stage a protest - long live Sun!

<steps off soap box, onto a smaller soap box>

The Sparc T4 was recently released, much to the delight of Sun, err, Oracle hardware users.  Interestingly, it has only half the number of cores as the T3 (8 instead of 16), but reaches almost twice the clock rate (3ghz instead of 1.67ghz) - all with the same number of threads per core (8).  With an upgrade from in-order to out-of-order execution (OOO, heh), and improved branch prediction the T4 is clearly targeted at single threaded performance.

In the age of scaling applications into the cloud it is still an open question whether the "sort of parallel" applications that would improve when moving from T3 to T4 are the future of the server market.  Certainly users that already are dependent upon sort-of-parallel applications, and are binary compatible, will want to upgrade.  But the NoSQL, MapReduce, and memcached movements are new versions of old programming tools with the non-scalable pieces removed.  They are used by newer tech companies that use their scale for competitive advantage (Google, Yahoo, Facebook) - which is another way of saying that they are the future.

On a side note, it is interesting that ArsTechnica no longer has the tried and true voice of Jon Stokes analyzing the latest processors (btw, if you want an insanely good book on computer architecture, get his).  Fingers crossed that he's just on vacation.  In either case, we at DailyCircuitry wish him the best of luck.

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