Can Sun make Niagara II shine in late 2007?

Considering the fact that the T1000 is an $8000 server compared to the $3000 AMD Opteron server, the T1000 should have smashed the competition but the T1000 loses instead. The T1000 also lost the power consumption test against the rack mounted Opteron server and we haven't even compared HP's ultra energy efficient c-Class blade platform. Furthermore, Intel is preparing to launch its quad core CPUs by the end of this year and AMD will be launching quad core CPUs by the middle of 2007 which raises the bar even higher.

David Kanter offers a sneak peak at Sun's Niagara II processor.

Kanter: "Although performance numbers were not forthcoming, the design objectives seem feasible and relatively competitive for a processor slated to arrive in the third quarter of 2007. The improvements in the cores and system architecture for Niagara II are substantial and should yield a factor of two improvement in performance. If Sun can hit their targets, these goals would translate into ~320K tpmC and ~150K BOPS in SPECjbb2005. This could put Niagara II at performance parity with the competition, and a lead in performance/watt."

Interesting, but third quarter of 2007 seems to be a distant future in the world of computer processors.  The existing Niagara processors already seems to be showing some signs of aging by benchmarking poorly against a lower-end 2-socket 4-core AMD Opteron server while consuming more power.  If the Niagara I based T1000 system (also reviewed by Justin James) were put up against a significantly more powerful Intel Core 2 based XEON 5100 3.0 GHz 2-socket server with relatively low power consumption, it would trail even further in the Apache web server test. 

I discussed these poor Niagara I results with Justin James and David Kanter and they both felt that the benchmarks were lacking.  I can certainly agree that more testing is needed but independent results for the Niagara processors are hard to come by.  It's a given that everyone agrees that the Niagara processors are poor single thread performers but Sun touts the multithreading performance as a huge plus.  But the Apache web server benchmarking results seem to indicate that the multi-threaded performance of the 8-core 1 GHz Niagara processor isn't anything to write home about and neither was the energy efficiency of the T1000 server compared to a lower-end 4-core 2 GHz AMD Opteron system.

Considering the fact that the T1000 is an $8000 server compared to the $3000 AMD Opteron server, the T1000 should have smashed the competition but the T1000 loses instead.  The T1000 also lost the power consumption test against the rack mounted Opteron server and we haven't even compared HP's ultra energy efficient c-Class blade platform.  Furthermore, Intel is preparing to launch its quad core CPUs by the end of this year and AMD will be launching quad core CPUs by the middle of 2007 which raises the bar even higher.