It would appear that Fujitsu has learned a lot from Sun's CMT processor designs and is testing out its new SPARC64 VIIIfx or Venus processor which is an 8 core SPARC64 chip that can perform 128 Giga-flops! Here are some interesting points about this processor:
- 8 core SPARCv9 with extended SIMD extensions for supercomputing, known as HPC-ACE.
- Dedicated L1 data and instruction cache for each core.
- Shared 6MB L2 cache
- 45nm CMOS process on 2 cm squared die
- 2x the number of transistors as the SPARC64 VII, yet only one third the power consumption.
- Integrated DDR3 Memory Controller
- Hardware optimization for non-parallelized traditional workloads
- 128 Giga-flops performance per chip, more than 2.5 times the fastest Intel processor.
- Liquid cooled!
Here is a picture of a Venus node:
As you can see, the front of the module is on the right-hand side where the latches are. You can also see what look like the liquid cooling connector on that side. This would suggest that the node plugs into a larger chassis and that the I/O components are on a separate module. I would not be surprised to see that the frame uses a custom switch-less fabric on the back-end, with mainframe level RAS, and SPARC Enterprise M-Series features.
It remains to be seen when this processor will make its way onto the M-series or a future SPARC product line for Fujitsu and Oracle/Sun. However, with the investment from Japan in deploying this in super-computers and Fujitsu's focus on making traditional workloads benefit from this new processor, it is very likely we'll see Venus based SPARC servers in the near future. The M-series was designed to handle several generational upgrades. It has already gone from Dual-Core to Quad-Core. As such, an 8-core upgrade is only logical. How this will play into Sun's ROCK processor is in question as well. It would appear that Fujitsu has indeed learned a lot from Sun around building multi-core and multi-threaded processors. ROCK and next-gen Niagara processors may be more focused on general purpose computing, while Venus is focused on large number crunching super-computer tasks.