Friday, December 3, 2010

Oracle lights Sparcs, breaks database record

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Oracle announced a system using its Sparc processors and Solaris operating system that executed more than 30 million transactions/minute, leapfrogging competitors IBM and Hewlett-Packard by a wide margin. The company also announced an upgraded Sparc processor and progress on a next-generation chip.

Oracle's chief executive Larry Ellison reiterated his commitment to delivering integrated hardware and software systems based on technologies acquired with Sun Microsystems in April 2009. The company's so-called Sunrise program "is all about Sparc and Solaris, those two foundational technologies that will lead the industry into the next generation systems," said Ellison.

All business systems makers are riding the trend to integrated systems. While Oracle focuses on linking chips and systems to its databases and applications, HP and Cisco have taken an approach of integrating a wider range of computer and communications gear.

"Someone wrote a book called The Sun Also Rises," he quipped. "For all our competitors running their Sundown programs, this marks the end of that," he said, referring to IBM and HP efforts to grab Sun's customers after the Oracle acquisition.

As a proof point, Oracle announced a high-end configuration of a new Sun Sparc cluster delivered 30,249,699 transactions/minute on the TPC-C benchmark, beating a four-month-old record on an IBM cluster of 10 million. HP held the previous record with an Intel Itanium based Superdome system at four million.

The Sun team integrated flash memory into servers in a way that Oracle's database software can use it as a new part of the memory hierarchy, optimizing performance, Ellison said.

Oracle also announced the Sparc VII+ processor and new member of its M-series servers using it, both co-developed with longtime Sun partner Fujitsu. The VII+ doubles to 12 Mbytes the amount of level-two cache and raises the data rate to 3 GHz to deliver about 20 percent more performance than the existing four-core, dual-threaded chip.

In addition, Oracle gave an update on the T4, its next-generation Sparc processor. Like the T3, it will sport up to eight cores running up to eight threads each. However each core will have significantly higher single-thread performance, said John Fowler, head of Oracle's systems group.

Several iterations of the T4 chip are performing "extremely well" in tests of working silicon at the company's Santa Clara, Calif., lab, Fowler said.

As for software, Ellison said the next version of the Solaris operating system will be available soon. Oracle's middleware and applications are already being based on Sun's Java language, he added.

In a study of its customers before the Sun acquisition, Oracle found Solaris was their most widely used operating systems, Ellison said. Solaris and Linux represented nearly 80 percent of its installed systems, he said.

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