Friday, December 03, 2010

SPARC Punches Back!

Larry Ellison at Oracle made some really exciting announcements yesterday on SPARC and Solaris! It's definitely worth registering and watching the event to find all the details. But here are the high lights:

Honestly, I don't think I've seen Larry soo excited! So basically Oracle now has several pre-configured SPARC based appliances that can run Solaris 10 or Solaris 11. The SPARC SuperCluster can be used for databases or general computing, while the SPARC ExaLogic can be used for the Oracle Fusion middleware products. There will be three SuperCluster configurations, one based on the SPARC T3-2 servers, the second based on the SPARC T3-4 servers, and the last one based on the M5000 servers. The SPARC ExaLogic product is based on the SPARC T3-1B blades. All of the configurations leverage the same management tools, Infiniband fabric, flash storage, flash cache, and the ZFS based 7000 series arrays as the x64 ExaData and ExaLogic configurations in place today. As a result, the SPARC SuperCluster and the SPARC ExaLogic systems can scale big time!

I think the important thing to keep in mind here is that the SPARC T3 processor obviously can pack a bigger punch than HP or IBM and with a much smaller foot-print and cost. Considering that it now has the TPC-C and the SPECweb top spots, it'll be harder for the FUD spreaders to say that SPARC is slow or out-dated. Clearly betting on the whole CMT concept has paid off and forced the industry to follow.

The SPARC T4 processor was announced in this event as well. As many have speculated these processors will have 8 cores and focus on improving single-threaded performance by a factor of 3. These should use the new VT (Yellowstone) core that Sun talked about in the past that will start out with 8 cores and 8 threads. These should go beyond the 2Ghz clock rate. It's great to hear that these processors are already in the labs and will come out next year. It would appear that Oracle is ensuring that Sun engineers and TSMC get things tapped out in a reasonable amount of time. If that means that the T4 servers will come out next year, then I would expect that we'll see the T5 servers in 2012/2013 time-frame. All together, this is great news and I can't wait to get my hands on a T4 box!

The SPARC64-VII+ or SPARC M3 processor as Larry likes to call it, was also announced. This is nothing new if you attended the Oracle OpenWorld 2010 event like I did. This brings a 20% boost in performance with a higher clock rate (up to 3Ghz finally!) and 12MB cache! Of course this upgrade is available on the M4000-M9000 servers, with full backward compatibility. As pointed out by Fujitsu and Oracle, this is the 4th generation processor upgrade for the M-series servers, which is definitely a lot of investment protection.

Now for some goodies!

You can also read what the Register had to say on this here and here.


gtirloni said...

I've been reading some IBM blogs about this and my impression is that they're all focusing on per core performance because their Power7 systems can't beat the T/M-series on anything else (price, overall performance, reliability, scalability, etc).

It feels as IBM is being left behind. AIX is sure an outdated piece of software when compared to Solaris. And now Oracle beats IBM in this benchmark.. it doesn't look like a good picture for IBM sales team.

What I find most intriguing is that IBM is all about selling whole solutions that include software, hardware and business consulting... and when confronted with a benchmark that measures the final results (overall tpmC throughput).. they resort to "per core performance". Who buys that nowadays? I wonder what's like to tell a CEO that "well, their are cheaper and faster (even for individual transaction latency).. but look at our single thread performance, 3x theirs!!"... pathetic.

Octave Orgeron said...

IBM has always been more expensive than SPARC. AIX 6 has been a huge struggle to catchup with Solaris 10, which came out 5 years ago! They couldn't even invent their own Containers feature and had to buy out a company to get WPARs. They still don't have anything like ZFS. The Power platform still doesn't have an equivalent to Dynamic Domains, like on the M-Series. Sure they've had LPARs, but require things like HMCs and external components to do what LDoms does built-in to the T-Series servers.

Performance wise, they just keep upping the clock speed and increasing the CPU caches to obscene sizes. They made fun of Sun when they went down the CMT path, but look at Power 7.. it's a multi-core and multi-threaded design that's not all that different concept wise now is it? They had to eat their own words and go down the same path, because cranking up the clock speed has its limits.

For CEOs, it appears that only those who spent their early years on Mainframes care for IBM products anyways. For some reason they think that the high price tag and the IBM logo on the box equates to a "good value". Meanwhile, I've seen situations where a few M5000s can equate to a large p570 configuration on performance, but cost only a third of the p570. And some how IBM thinks that's competitive? Sure they can always sell you a big boat anchor that will do the job, but it'll cost a ton more than going with SPARC! What's the point? I don't see it!

Customers are best of using Solaris on SPARC and if they want x86, Solaris works great there too! Can't do that with AIX or HP-UX!