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Oracle Sets High Performance Server Hardware Agenda

By David Needle (Send Email)
Posted Aug 11, 2010


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EAST PALO ALTO, Calif. – Oracle kicked off a road show on its next generation data center strategy by committing to continue to develop and push the performance of Sun's Sparc processors and x86 systems. Promises to double application performance on Sparc systems every two years.

The company also detailed a new version 11 of the Solaris operating system due out next year.

There had been some question whether Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL), which had not given a clear roadmap of its plans for Sparc, would continue to actively develop the processor, or throw most of its resources to x86 systems.

Sun veteran John Fowler, now Oracle's executive vice president of systems, made it clear the company is committed to Sparc and expects to at least double the application performance on Sparc systems every two years.

He also said Sparc will be developed as one architecture with two flavors, the T series for very energy-efficient, high-volume systems and the M series for higher-end systems.

On the high-end side, he said Oracle is working to scale Sparc to support thousands of threads and multiple terabytes of memory.

"Most enterprise customers don't buy processors, they buy systems," Fowler said as he detailed the features and integrated systems approach Oracle is taking with its servers.

That said, Fowler laid out a pretty aggressive roadmap for Sparc performance. By 2015, he expects Oracle to be able to offer a 128-core Sparc processor, four times the 32-cores the company offers today. Likewise, the plan is to bump memory support from 4 terabytes this year to 64TB in five years.

"These are tremendous numbers showing a 40 times performance improvement over the next five years," Fowler said in front of a slide that showed database transactions per minute improving from 3 million to 120 million by 2015.

Fowler had to walk a bit of a fine line in touting the advantages of Oracle systems being fine-tuned for "extraordinary" performance running the company's own software since enterprise customers typically want to be able to run many different vendor's offerings effectively.

"There are going to be situations where customers want a la carte solutions," said Fowler.

"We're committed to open servers running SAP, SAAS and IBM," he added.

Storage Is Where It's At

Another area that didn't get a lot of attention in the Sun acquisition was storage. Some analysts had criticized Sun for overspending when it bought StorageTek for $4.1 billion back in 2005. Now all those assets along with other storage products Sun developed are part of Oracle.

But Fowler was bullish on Oracle's plans, positioning the company as a leader in disk storage technology for its implementation of the ZFS file system, analytics and Flash storage.

"You're going to see Sparc customers looking for exabyte scale in archiving and we expect to set a leadership bar," said Fowler.

"We're not far away from exabyte storage. You'd be surprised how many customers are interested in that for operations and compliance," he added. Slides accompanying the presentation showed Oracle hitting exabyte capacities by 2015.

"Storage is the most exciting area of development today," Fowler said.

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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