While we await the release of the UltraSPARC-T3 servers from Sun Oracle, the big question is how does it stack up against IBM's Power 7 processor?
Ars Technica took an interesting look at the feature set of the processors themselves in this article. One of the best lines in the article describing the differences between these processors is, "If Niagara 3 is an army of guys with shovels, POWER7 is a giant bulldozer". The T3 processor definitely takes prize for the largest amount of cores, threads, and I/O options integrated(Crypto, PCI-E, and 10GbE). However, the Power 7 processor makes up for this with heavy cores, higher clock speeds, an on-chip 32MB L3 cache, and large I/O and memory pipes. In many ways you can see how IBM learned a lot from Sun on building multi-core designs. One could even argue that IBM took the idea of a 32MB cache right from the UltraSPARC-IV+ playbook for addressing latency issues for heavy cores. And to think a few years ago IBM was laughing at Sun for the T1 processor saying that CMT wasn't relevant. Well always nice to see someone eat their own words and invest millions!
Hopefully we'll see the UltraSPARC-T3 servers appear soon before long to compete with IBM and show that Sun Oracle can still pack a bunch. Having a 1-4 socket server with UltraSPARC-T3 processors could lead to a new wave of ultra-dense SPARC servers for web, database, and throughput processing. When combined with LDoms and many of the networking and storage virtualization advancements in OpenSolaris, one has a killer product for new projects and consolidations.