(UltraSPARC T3 Micrograph)
What do CoolThreads Cores & Crypto Engines Buy You?
"SPARC T1...That CPU had a cryptographic accelerator in it. Later, the SPARC T2 improved things by implementing a Crypto engine in each of the 8 cores."
The move from 1 to 8 was not with the Crypto units, but with the Floating Point Unit, when moving from the T1 to the T2 processor.
"The eight MAUs, one for each core, are driven by the Niagara Crypto Provider (NCP) device driver in the Solaris 10 OS for both UltraSPARC T1 and T2 processors.
On systems with UltraSPARC T1 processors, NCP supports hardware assisted acceleration of RSA and DSA cryptographic operations. On systems with UltraSPARC T2 processors, NCP supports RSA, DSA, DH, and ECC cryptographic operations"
Understanding the different members of the CoolThreads processing family could be
- UltraSPARC T1
8 Integer, 1 Floating, 8 Crypto engines.
- UltraSPARC T2
8 Integer, 8 Floating, 8 "enhanced" Crypto engines (with additional algorithms supported.)
- SPARC T3
16 Integer, 16 Floaring, 16 "steroid enhanced" Crypto engines (with even more Crypto algorithms supported.)
Contrast the Intel architecture to the T Series: the CoolThreads Crypto units are completely parallel... simply speaking, the CPU dump a pointer to the Crypto core to work on on a set of bytes to encrypt/decrypt, the Crypto core ends a message back to the CPU when it is done. The CPU can do real work during the time the parallel Crypto unit is operating.
This is pretty close to how it all works, considering that this layman did not design the CPU's.
In total, for workloads that are heavily encrypted (databases, file systems, web servers, middleware, etc.) - the T processors are the processor of choice. It makes NO SENSE to buy CPU's without Crypto engines (i.e. Intel) where the central processing power that you are paying licensing points for has to burn those license points doing Crypto work instead of off-loading the work to 8 or 16 different crypto engines (for free) and then only pay your licensing for the work that the CPU is really doing for your applications.