Oracle Introduces SPARC SuperCluster Servers With 'Extreme Parallelism'


Oracle on Monday unveiled its newest general-purpose server, the SPARC SuperCluster, based on the company's new SPARC T4 processors.

The SPARC SuperCluster was designed with the same "extreme parallelism" that Oracle put into its Exadata database appliance and Exalogic middleware appliance, said Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, at the company's Redwood Shores, Calif., headquarters.

By "extreme parallelism," Ellison, speaking at a Monday press conference, referred to the company's move to develop the hardware, software, and storage at the same time to get the maximum performance from a system.

"For a long time we thought it was a good idea to take all of the pieces of a computer system ... and design them to work together," Ellison said.

That extreme parallelism, which also figures in the design of the Exadata and Exalogic appliances, stems from Oracle's control of server and storage hardware thanks to its acquisition early last year of Sun Microsystems.

The SPARC SuperCluster is based on the SPARC T4 processor, which features eight cores per socket and eight threads per core, giving it a total of 64 threads per socket.

The new server includes much of the same technology included in the Exadata and Exalogic appliances, said John Fowler, executive vice president of systems at Oracle.

This includes the Exadata Storage Cell architecture which couples the processor and the storage for high-performance database operations, as well as Exalogic technology for boosting Oracle middleware applications, Fowler said.

These are all tied together with Oracle's ZFS storage technology for high-performance file storage capabilities, as well as InfiniBand for the internal interconnects, providing the ability to run Oracle database and middleware applications as well as applications such as online transaction processing (OLTP) designed for the Solaris 10 and Solaris 11 operating systems, he said.

Ellison, who used last year's introduction of its original SuperCluster server to trash-talk server rival Hewlett-Packard with such zingers as calling HP's Superdome line the "TurtleDome," this week did not mention HP at all.

Instead, Ellison's competitive target was IBM and its p795 server, which he called the world's fastest server.

For instance, Ellison said, for running databases, an Oracle Exadata with a $3.3 million configuration offers the same performance as a p795 server worth about $18.86 million. "The memory update for the p795 costs more than the Exadata," he said.

Fowler said Oracle is continuing to invest in its server and processor business, and promised to double the SPARC processor performance in Oracle environment every two years by adding elements of enterprise software applications to the silicon.

The SPARC SuperCluster servers are currently available, Fowler said. "We're happy, between the direct sales and the channel partners, to begin talking about them," he said.