Oracle Announces SPARC M7 with Security, Performance Enhancements

by Sean Michael Kerner

Integration with Database and Java development teams leads to new server CPU innovations.

When Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems back in 2010 the company said it would continue to invest and push Sun's SPARC silicon forward. Four years later and Oracle continues to deliver on that promise with a continued march of SPARC silicon innovation.

The latest innovation is the SPARC M7, which was announced this week and is set to ship in 2015. In an audio press conference, John Fowler, Executive Vice-President of Systems at Oracle detailed some of the SPARC T5 innovation that the M7 will bring to the market.

Fowler noted that the M7 processor will be the fifth new processor Oracle has announced in the last four years. In March of 2013, Oracle announced the T5 and M5 SPARC processors and more recently in September 2013 the company announced the M6 SPARC.

The new Oracle SPARC M7 includes 32 fourth-generation S4 cores and can be dynamically threaded with up to 8 threads per core. Each processor is now able to support up to 2 TB of physical memory, and the plan is to be able to scale a server system all the way up to 32 processors.

Application Data Integrity for Additional Level of Security

Among the major new innovations the SPARC M7 introduces is an Application Data Integrity feature that will provide a new level of security.

"This feature is aimed directly at people doing C and C++ language programming," Fowler explained. "When you allocate memory using malloc, you have to have a matching key that eliminates out-of-bounds memory corruption issues."

Fowler said that developers will now be able to debug applications at full speed by showing all memory accesses and potential out-of-bounds issues.

"I know that sounds like a low-level thing, but it is tremendously exciting for development teams here at Oracle," Fowler said. "They haven't ever been able to run production systems that have protected memory; that has never been possible."

M7 Also Adds Database In-Memory Query Accelerator

For databases, the M7 holds particular promise thanks to the Database In-Memory Query Accelerator feature. Oracle's latest 12c database recently launched with In-Memory database capabilities being a key capability.

Additionally the M7 can perform live data decompression within the processor. Fowler said that means customers can run all their data in compressed format, saving a tremendous amount of storage while still running at high performance levels.

With the M7 there is also a feature for low-latency message passing between systems. Fowler noted that databases today benefit from clustering technology, which isn't always very efficient.

"What we expect when we ship the M7 processor is that the database applications will show spectacular performance improvements the likes of which people have never seen in a single-generation improvement," Fowler said.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at ServerWatch and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

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This article was originally published on Wednesday Aug 13th 2014
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