Oracle pushes Sparc Supercluster and Sparc Exalogic server hardware

Oracle rolled out a refresh of its Sparc-based servers, including a new Sparc-based Exalogic Elastic Cloud middleware server.

Oracle updated its Sun Sparc-based Solaris server hardware on Thursday, including a new Sparc-based Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud T3-1B server in its product line.

The new Sparc-based Oracle Exalogic system piggybacks on the Intel Xeon-based Exalogic server that Oracle announced at OpenWorld this year. Just as Exadata is meant for database workloads, Exalogic is what Oracle CEO Larry Ellison called “a dedicated middleware machine.” Both machines are expected to be available in the first calendar quarter of next year.

The Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud T3-1B server includes:

  • 30 compute servers
  • 480 1.6 GHz high-efficiency Sparc processor cores
  • 3.8 terabytes of DRAM
  • 960 GB mirrored solid-state disk
  • 40 terabytes of SAS disk
  • InfiniBand network fabric

The Supercluster models, meanwhile, range from

  • 4-16 CPUs
  • 512 GB to 1.5 TB of flash memory
  • 96-144 terabytes of disk space

Ellison on Thursday also announced a record-breaking transaction processing performance with a souped-up Supercluster. It had 30 million transactions per minute compared to its nearest competitior, an IBM Power7 cluster with 10 million transactions per minute. The Oracle Supercluster included 108 Sparc processors and 13.5TB of memory, while the IBM machine included 24 processors and 2TB of memory.

Oracle did not provide pricing, but a rough estimate can be teased out from its Supercluster benchmark results. According to those results, Oracle built a cluster made of 27 Sun Sparc servers, each with four 16-core T3 processors and 512GB of memory. Oracle listed the price of the cluster at $30.5 million. Given that, end users can expect the cost of a single Supercluster with four 16-core T3 Sparc processors and 512GB of memory to cost about $1.1 million.

Eric Guyer, a consultant with Chicago-based Forsythe Technology Inc., gave some rough estimates regarding potential licensing costs for the Supercluster: “432 Processors of Enterprise Database, RAC and Partitioning, totaling over $35M in list licensing.” It should be noted that customers usually get a steep discount -- as much as 90% -- off list price.

Guyer said he was most interested by Ellison’s announcement that there will be so-called Gold Support services for specific configurations that include IBM, HP, Dell and other server hardware. According to Guyer, that continues a tradition that Oracle needs to continue if it plans to stay on top in the enterprise software market.

“I’ve always known Oracle to be open. They write software and port it to every platform,” said Guyer, who once worked for Oracle and HP. “I think it’s vital that they continue to do that.”

Guyer pointed out that the Exadata software has still not been ported to other database machines. Features within that software such as hybrid columnar compression could be beneficial on other server hardware vendors’ systems, he said.

Oracle also announced new Sparc-based M-Series servers that include a new Fujitsu-designed Sparc chip, the Sparc64 VII+. Guyer said the Sparc64 VII+ is “just a clocked-up version” and didn’t impress him, and said he would have liked to see more details about UltraSparc T4, Oracle’s internally designed chip. John Fowler, Oracle’s vice president of systems, said T4 would have the same number of cores per chip and threads per core, but would have higher single-thread performance. If that is the case, it is a similarly “clocked-up” revision. It is due out next year.

Mark Fontecchio can be reached at [email protected].

Next Steps

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