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On the more traditional server side, Oracle in September introduced the SPARC SuperCluster. Based on the SPARC T4 processor, which features eight cores per socket and eight threads per core for a total of 64 threads per socket, the SPARC SuperCluster includes much of the same technology included in the Exadata and Exalogic appliances.
However, Oracle's server business is in a decline. The company in December reported its second fiscal quarter hardware systems sales fell 14 percent compared to last year, a fall the company blamed on customer indecision as the company transitioned to its new SPARC T4 microprocessors.
That corresponds with Gartner estimates that Oracle in the third calendar quarter sold 4.2 percent fewer servers, and suffered an 11.6 percent decline in server revenue, compared to the third quarter of 2010.
Oracle declined to comment on this article.
HP is also seeing its server business decline, in part because of a big dispute with Oracle.
Oracle and HP are locked in legal battles over Oracle's decision earlier this year to end development of its software for HP's Intel Itanium RISC processor-based Integrity Unix server line. That move, has sowed confusion among HP customers, who form the biggest installed base of Oracle software.
The results of the dispute are already starting to show. Gartner reported that HP shipped 12.8 percent fewer Unix servers in the third quarter of 2011 compared to the previous year, with Unix server revenue falling 18.5 percent during that period.
HP is continuing to develop its Unix server technology. The company is working with Intel on that company's upcoming Poulson Itanium processor, expected to be released sometime in 2013. HP, according to Forrester's Fichera, is also investing in porting its HP-UX Unix operating system to x86-based server platform, a possibility for which HP declines to comment.
HP in November unveiled "Odyssey," a mission-critical server strategy calling for the integration of x86 server blades into its Integrity Superdome 2 Itanium-based servers, the introduction of new scalable c-Class blade enclosures, and the porting of HP-UX Unix features to Windows and Linux.
The company expects Odyssey to provide Integrity Superdome 2 customers a way to gradually move their mission-critical workloads to Windows or Linux without disrupting existing investments in their Integrity architecture while laying the groundwork for the gradual unification of Unix and x86 architectures over the next couple of years.
Kate O'Neill, product marketing manager for HP's Business Critical Systems division, said Odyssey was not a reaction to the dispute with Oracle or to the drop in HP Unix server sales.
O'Neill also said there is no short-term pressure for customers to move from HP-UX. Oracle has promised to support its Oracle 11g software in Integrity platforms through 2018, and few are in a hurry to adopt Oracle 12, she said.
"Lots of customers are still running Oracle 8," she said. "Customers are not adopting new software as fast as its available. Customers are not pressured to move to Oracle 12."
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