Oracle Debuts SPARC Supercluster

By Sean Michael Kerner (Send Email)
Posted Dec 3, 2010


For those that thought the Sun SPARC microprocessor was a dead end, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison is out to prove you wrong. Oracle updates Sun hardware lineup with new SPARC based servers for the cloud, delivering record setting performance.

At an event this week, Oracle announced an array of new SPARC powered servers and a roadmap for future SPARC development. The new servers include a SPARC based Exalogic Elastic Cloud as well as the new SPARC Supercluster. The new SPARC servers are being optimized for the upcoming Solaris 11 Unix operating system as Oracle updates Sun’s hardware and software portfolios.

"For all of our competitors that have been enjoying their Sun down and Sun set programs, this is the end of that," Ellison said. "This is the Sunrise. The Sunrise program is all about SPARC and Solaris, those two foundation technologies are going to lead the industry into the next generation of engineered systems."

Among the new SPARC systems announced by Oracle is a SPARC powered Exalogic Elastic Cloud server. Oracle debuted an x86 based Exalogic server at its OpenWorld event in September. The Exalogic server is a middleware enhanced 'cloud-in-a-box' solution tailored for Java applications. The SPARC version of the Exalogic is powered by a 16 core T3-1B SPARC processor.

While Exalogic is focused on Java middleware performance, Oracle is also rolling out a general purpose computing platform as well with the new SPARC Supercluster.

"The Supercluster is a general purpose server that will run your middleware, your customer apps and your database extremely well," Ellison said. "It runs your database faster than anyone has run any database before."

In addition to the new SPARC T3 processors in the Exalogic and Supercluster platforms, Ellison touted the benefits of InfiniBand, which is used in both systems to help improve overall performance. InfiniBand is often used in high-performance computing systems and offers lower latency than traditional Ethernet configurations.

"We think InfiniBand is dramatically better for linking servers to other servers and servers to storage, than Ethernet," Ellison said. "We certainly have Ethernet connectivity to these boxes, but when these servers are talking amongst themselves and talking to storage they're going through a high-performance, reliable and guaranteed delivery network called InfiniBand."

Moving forward, Oracle is continuing to push forward on SPARC performance beyond the current generation of T3 processors.

"The T4 is alive in the lab delivering a lot better single threaded performance than the T3," Ellison said. "In T3, we focused on adding more cores and in the T4 we're trying to make our single thread performance better and it looks very good right now."

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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