Oracle Introduces Sparc Supercluster

Demonstrating a commitment to Sun Microsystems hardware, Oracle has announced Solaris Servers with the new 16-core Sparc T3 processor.

Antone Gonsalves, Contributor

December 2, 2010

3 Min Read

Oracle is showing its commitment to the Sun Microsystems hardware it acquired in a $7.4 billion takeover this year by introducing Solaris servers powered by the new 16-core Sparc T3 processor.

The product line upgrade introduced Thursday includes a new Supercluster that can include dozens of rack-mount, T3 servers tied together through Oracle's high-speed InfiniBand switching fabric, Oracle's Real Application Clusters software and Sun's FlashFire solid-state storage acceleration technology. The refresh also includes an Exalogic Elastic Cloud T3-1B, a hardware/software product that makes heavy use of flash memory, up to five terabytes. The solid-state memory boosts performance significantly by serving as a giant cache storing business logic and the data that it's working with.

The entire Exalogic system can be connected to Oracle's Exadata database machine or storage arrays using the company's InfiniBand technology, which is capable of moving data at 40 GB per second. The combination of Exalogic and Exadata allows Java applications to run up to 10 times faster than on other hardware/software configurations, according to Oracle.

The latest announcements make good on Oracle's promise to use Sparc T3 chips in next generation Sun servers running the Solaris operating system. The latest processor delivers significantly higher performance, Oracle says.

Speed is certainly a focus with the new systems. Oracle claims its new Supercluster running the company's Database 11g is three times faster in online transaction processing than IBM's Power 780 server cluster with Power7 processors and IBM's DB2 9.7 database. Oracle based its claims on tests approved by the Transaction Processing Performance Council, which listed the results on its website. What isn't known is how Oracle achieved that speed mark and whether it represents a real-life situation. Fujitsu is also hoping to benefit from Oracle's speed accomplishments in introducing Thursday Sun Enterprise M-Series servers running the new Sparc64 VII+ processor. With a clock speed up to 3.0 GHz, the chip is faster than what was previously available and has double the L2 cache, or 12 MB. Oracle and Fujitsu are claiming 20% higher performance.

Oracle and Fujitsu are hoping their higher-performing systems will lure customers away from rivals IBM and Hewlett-Packard. Competition among the companies is increasing as the overall market shrinks. All of the Sparc Solaris systems, as well as similar products from IBM and HP, run on variants of the Unix OS. IDC reported this week that the worldwide market for Unix servers declined 9.7% year over year in the third quarter.

Oracle has not said when the new systems will be available or how much they will cost. The new products are expected to be released soon.

Oracle announced the $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun in April of last year. The takeover didn't get approval from European regulators until January of this year, five months after it received approval from U.S. regulators.

During the delay, Sun's hardware business, which was already weak, declined rapidly and analysts wondered whether Oracle chief executive Larry Ellison would commit the necessary resources to rebuild the product line. Ellison has since shown a commitment to building highly optimized and engineered systems that remove the chores of extensive integration, tuning and testing when buying and tying together the best individual products from multiple vendors. Critics say Ellison's approach makes it difficult for customers to leave Oracle if prices rise or the technology changes.


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