Sun Releases Open-Source Processor

The OpenSparc T1--formerly called Niagara--is a 64-bit, 32-thread processor design for which Sun will provide both hardware and software specs.

March 22, 2006

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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Making good on a promise made last year, Sun Microsystems announced the release of open-source hardware and software specifications for its multi-threaded UltraSparc T1 (Niagara) processor, now called OpenSparc T1, Tuesday (March 21) at the Multicore Expo here.

The OpenSparc T1 is a 64-bit, 32-thread processor design free of any royalty or licensing fees. Sun announced its intent to provide open-source hardware specifications for the processor last December.

Specifically, Sun released Verilog RTL code for the processor design, a verification suite and simulation models, an instruction set architecture specification, and the Solaris 10 operating system simulation images. These specifications are available at the OpenSparc web site.

"We know that just what we can do at Sun is not enough," said David Yen, executive vice president of Sun's scalable systems group. "We want to accelerate the whole industry to reach multi-threaded capabilities." Opening the specifications, he said, will help software people explore the architecture, and foster an "ecosystem" around the Sparc architecture.

Yen also named several members of Sun's OpenSparc partnership program, including Synopsys, Aldec, Mentor Graphics, and Cadence Design Systems. Synopsys announced separately that its Galaxy design and Discovery verification platform support the processor.Sun has also launched "Cool Tools" for performance tuning of applications on multi-threaded processors, and chip multi-threading (CMT) programming and profiling.

The three-day Multicore Expo is a first-time conference exploring issues around multicore IC design.

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