Oracle Announces New High-Performance Computing Sun Clusters

by Andy Patrizio

True to its promise, Oracle sticks to the high-end market with massive clustering x86 servers and a unified network fabric.

Oracle Monday expanded its line of x86 Sun servers with new rackmount, blade and network fabric clustering servers designed for massive server clusters with a smaller footprint than prior generations of Sun hardware.

True to CEO Larry Ellison's promise that Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) would focus only on the high end of the server market, these servers use Intel (NASDAQ: INTC) Xeon 5600 and 7500 processors, the latter aimed at the mission-critical space occupied by processors like Sun's UltraSparc chip.

These cluster servers consist of five rackmounted and two bladed servers that hold from two to eight processors and are tightly integrated with Oracle software, middleware and management applications. All Oracle software and middleware has been certified to run on this hardware.

The Sun Fire x86 Clustered Systems are designed for customers that run a mix of Oracle and non-Oracle enterprise workloads across a mix of systems, according to Oracle. They are optimized for Oracle Solaris, Oracle Enterprise Linux and Oracle VM, which supports Red Hat and Suse Linux along with the KVM hypervisor.

Oracle has integrated Sun's Ops Center with its own Enterprise Manager, providing a "lights-out" single point of management interface for all hardware components -- blades, servers, storage, networking, power and virtualization. Oracle also said the hardware comes with an Integration Assistant to help configure and boot the systems out of the box within minutes.

"We claim we can manage a full blade ecosystem without requiring any network skills, because network virtualization is done in the silicon and through Oracle middleware technology," Dimitris Dovas, director of product management for Sun hardware at Oracle, said on a videoconference announcing the new hardware.

Even with no OS installed, the hardware can reach out across the Internet to Oracle servers to check for firmware and BIOS updates, download and install them, and then begin the boot and configuration process, Dovas claimed.

Oracle claims up to a 45 percent improvement in energy efficiency over the previous generation systems and the ability to run 70 percent more workload than previous generation. This comes through "a lot of Oracle IP around hardware and software to deliver this result," said Dovas. He said that through consolidation, this hardware can deliver the same performance in one-tenth the space with one-tenth the devices and one-fifth the number of network cables.

The network cable reduction comes through Oracle's Sun Blade 6000 10 GbE switches, which are either embedded in the blade itself or inserted into the top of the rack to interconnect the clusters. This lets the servers talk straight to the network without having to connect via a networking cable to the switch.

Andy Patrizio is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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This article was originally published on Monday Jun 28th 2010
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