Oracle Unveils Sparc Servers, Touts T5 Processor As 'World's Fastest'


Oracle on Tuesday unveiled its Sparc T5 and M5 servers, the latest refresh to its mid-range and high-end Unix server portfolio, along with a new processor that CEO Larry Ellison is billing as the world's fastest.

The new servers, which run Oracle Solaris, are geared toward running database, Java and enterprise apps with a much higher level of speed and performance than their predecessors, Ellison said Tuesday in a press conference at Oracle's headquarters in Redwood Shores, Calif.

Ellison reserved his most glowing praise for the new Sparc T5-8 server, which he said runs apps five times faster than Oracle's highest-end T4 server. It also runs Oracle's Database and Middleware products faster than any other server in the vendor's lineup, and it is significantly less expensive than IBM's Power 780 server from a price-performance standpoint, he said.

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Under the hood is Oracle's new Sparc 5 processor, which has set 17 world records in industry-standard benchmarking, Ellison said at the event. Oracle achieved this advantage, he said, through consistent performance improvements that were "faster than anything from Intel, faster than anything from IBM."

"When Oracle bought Sun people though Sparc was slow, they thought we would never catch up. We've done much better than catch up -- we've passed the competition," Ellison said.

Oracle isn't stopping there. Ellison said the vendor will continue to design processors that take into account the software running on them. Oracle will look to continue doubling performance every year and plans to start moving its software features, such as database and Java accelerators, onto the silicon, he said.

Oracle, in the course of "intensive collaboration" with engineering teams, has managed to "execute a drumbeat of silicon" that's geared toward optimizing performance of the apps running on its servers, John Fowler, Oracle's executive vice president of systems, said at the event.

"To my knowledge, no [company] has ever introduced, on the same day, two microprocessors and the whole [server] family around them," Fowler said.

John Ezzell, executive vice president at BIAS Corporation, an Atlanta-based Oracle partner, expects the faster server speeds to help his customers continue reducing their hardware expenditures.

"The T4 is screaming fast, doing the work of servers three times its size," Ezzell said in an interview with CRN following the Oracle event. "We have one customer that went from 53 servers down to five T4 servers."

Ellison referred to the hulking onstage presence of the Sparc M5 server as an example of the "new mainframes" Oracle will be rolling out, calling them the "fastest computers in the world," with up to 32 terabytes of main memory.

"It is a very large-scale computer ... with enormous memory bandwidth," Ellison said.

The M5 is aimed at the highest scale workloads with mission critical reliability, and Oracle is expecting enterprises to take a phased approach in moving to the newer, more powerful Sparc M5 hardware.

"Everything is a common architecture -- we expect customers to mix and match [the T5 and M5] across their enterprises," Fowler said at the event. "What we want to do is change the economics and tackle a different class of apps, but at a cost-performance point that makes the high end a very attractive enterprise platform."

PUBLISHED, MARCH 26