Big Blue Strikes Back Against Oracle SPARC Power Claims

by Sean Michael Kerner

Whose systems are faster: Oracle's SPARC or IBM's Power?

During the Oracle SPARC T5/M5 launch earlier this week, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison made a lot of competitive claims against IBM. According to IBM, though, the competitive claims aren't entirely accurate.

Steve Sibley, Director of Power Systems Offering Management at IBM, told ServerWatch that in his opinion,IBM Power it's interesting to see how Oracle "selectively", talks about performance.

"The SPARC T5 system, while certainly an improvement over the T4, has the same threading and cache challenges," Sibley said. "The fact that they put extra cores on the chip isn't the point and doesn't align with real-world workloads, looking for performance on real applications."

The new SPARC T5 includes 16 SPARC v9 cores, with 8MB of shared Level 3 cache and 128K of Level 2 cache per core. The previous generation SPARC T4 came with 8 cores per chip.

In terms of performance for SPARC vs IBM's Power, Sibley noted that publicly posted benchmarks from the Transaction Processing Performance Council (TPC) show IBM's Power to be faster. The TPC-C benchmark for IBM's 8 core Power7 gives IBM a 2x performance win over the new SPARC T5-8 server.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison also stressed the importance of software optimization in hardware for SPARC. He specifically noted that Oracle Database runs exceptionally well on SPARC. Sibley noted that IBM has a large contingent of staff that works with Oracle engineers to make sure that the Oracle database is optimized on Power.

Power 8

Under Oracle's leadership, the SPARC chip and server portfolio has benefited from an accelerated innovation cycle. IBM isn't slowing down its pace of innovation when it comes to Power either.

Sibley noted that the next generation of Power architecture, IBM Power 8, is targeted for availability "some time" in the next year.

*UPDATED* An Oracle spokesperson contacted ServerWatch to dispute the IBM counter claim on performance. The spokesperson stated that, IBM's highest TPC-C result with the 3-node cluster is 10.3M tpmC's compared to 8.5M from the SPARC T5-8.

"That’s not 2x faster," the Oracle spokesperson said citing a TPC-C stats page.  "In fact, with a single SPARC T5-8, you’re able to do 80 percent of the work, at 60 percent lower cost than IBM’s 3-node cluster Power 780."


Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Follow him on Twitter at @TechJournalist.

Follow ServerWatch on Twitter and on Facebook

This article was originally published on Thursday Mar 28th 2013
Mobile Site | Full Site