Oracle Supercluster Pushes SPARC Forward

by Sean Michael Kerner

Oracle CEO announced new SPARC T-4 based systems while leveling a competitive barrage against IBM.

Oracle is advancing the Sun SPARC server architecture with a new chip and new engineered systems.The SPARC T4 is the latest generation chip architecture from Oracle's SUN hardware division.

"The T4 microprocessor is up to five times faster, depending on what you're testing, than the T3 chip it replaces," Oracle CEO Larry Ellison said during a launch event for the T4. "This is much faster than the T3."

The first key platform for the T4 is the SPARC SuperCluster machine, which is a general purpose engineered system that runs Oracle's Solaris Unix operating system. The idea is to give those users that are running SPARC-based environments today an upgrade path with higher performance.

"We think lots of people are going to upgrade from their current SPARC Solaris systems to the new SPARC SuperCluster," Ellison said.

In terms of the what is in the T4 SPARC SuperCluster, Ellison noted that it's one box that delivers more power than IBM's top-end P-series. The T4-4 SPARC SuperCluster has four sockets of T4 SPARC chips and includes nearly a terabit of Infiniband bandwidth for interconnectivity and 42 Gigabits per second of storage bandwidth on the system.

"Each T4 has eight cores and each core has eight threads, so it's a lot of power," Ellison said.

In total, a T4-4 SPARC SuperCluster delivers 1,200 CPU threads in one rack, with 4 TB of DRAM.

"This one box does more I/Os per second than the $18 million IBM P Series," Ellison said. "This is a really faster computer ladies and gentlemen."

Ellison explained that the T4-4 SuperCluster also has the Exadata storage servers for database storage. Exadata is Oracle's engineered database machine.

John Fowler, executive vice president of systems at Oracle, explained that the while the SPARC SuperCluster is a general-purpose computing platform, the anchor tenant is Oracle's 11g database.

That said, Fowler added that Java and middleware also benefits from the SPARC SuperCluster. He stressed that enterprise software in general runs faster on the SuperCluster.

"PeopleSoft runs eight times faster than a conventional server platform," Fowler said. "Why is it faster? It's running side-by-side with database 1, which is massively accelerated."

Fowler noted that enterprises looking at a multi-tier deployment of packaged applications or custom applications that leverage Oracle Database 11 can use the SPARC SuperCluster to get a performance gain. Fowler explained that the performance gain isn't just because of the new T4 SPARC processor; it's also because Oracle has improved the overall underlying architecture.

Sean Michael Kerner 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 Wednesday Sep 28th 2011
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