Oracle shows super-fast, IBM-killing SPARC T4

By Richi Jennings (@richi ) - September 27, 2011.

Larry Ellison (Oracle PR)
Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL) has unveiled its T4 processor, as well as its 9,600-thread SuperCluster behemoth. In the run-up to next week's Oracle OpenWorld, Larry Ellison and Mark Hurd are proudly showing off their new stuff. In IT Blogwatch, bloggers ponder the feeds 'n' speeds.

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention: Guess the FUNCTION of the THING...

    James Niccolai reports:

CEO Larry Ellison...made several bold performance claims and said he's "looking forward" to competing for IBM's customers. The T4...has eight processor cores...each core runs at up to 3GHz, compared to the T3's 1.65Ghz. ... [It's] available now in standard rack and blade servers, priced from US$16,000 to $160,000.


[T]he Sparc SuperCluster [is] a high-end system that will pack 1,200 CPU threads in...a server rack...out by the end of the year...designed for general purpose computing, including [ERP]. ... It can be purchased in a half rack configuration, or as a full rack with 4TB of DRAM. ... Up to eight racks can be linked together with a single system image.   

   Timothy Prickett Morgan adds:

The SPARC T4 processors, with an S3 core, were developed under the code-name "Yosemite Falls." ... Oracle's chipheads added dynamic threading...and also added something called the critical thread API...[which] boost[s] the performance of a single-threaded application. ... On the SPECint2006 benchmark, the SPARC T4 processor...has about five times the performance of the SPARC T3.


[A T4 die] has two DDR3 memory controllers, two PCI-Express 2.0 x8...controllers, and two 10 Gigabit Ethernet controllers...along with eight S3 cores. Each [of which]...also supports 18 cryptographic and hashing functions [and] has its own 16KB L1 instruction and 16KB L1 data cache, plus...128KB of L2 cache; the eight cores share a 4MB on-chip L3 cache, which is broken into two banks.   

Arik Hesseldahl talks to Mark Hurd:

With Oracle set to hold its annual...conference in San Francisco next month, Hurd taking on generally more public roles at Oracle. ... Hurd declined to offer any good-natured advice to Meg Whitman...and also declined to answer any questions whatsoever about...his departure from [HP] 13 months ago.


"Larry has a keynote Sunday, and...another Wednesday, and I’ll be doing one Monday...centered on our innovations and systems and that will be the primary agenda. ... I spend most of my time working on customers and making sure we have the best team in the industry. ... It’s a huge opportunity for us, but it’s also a challenge, because frankly there’s a lot to be done."   

And Jeffrey Burt notes that Oracle is taking aim at IBM:

Ellison...argu[ed] that the SuperCluster offers significantly better performance at a lower cost than IBM’s...P795 servers...[and] greater reliability and security.   

But Stephen Shankland sees in T4 something of a U-turn:

Sun's T-series processors began with the T1 "Niagara," evolved to the T2 "Victoria Falls" and T3 "Rainbow Falls." All three of those designs emphasized the ability to perform lots of parallel tasks. ... Not only did the T-series processors push hard with multiple...cores...they also pushed hard by letting each core [execute] multiple...threads.

  With the T4, though, Oracle is headed in a more traditional direction: fewer...cores running at a faster clock speed.   

   And Finally...
Guess the FUNCTION of the THING
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Richi Jennings, your humble blogwatcher

Richi Jennings is an independent analyst/consultant, specializing in blogging, email, and security. He's the creator and main author of Computerworld's IT Blogwatch -- for which he has won American Society of Business Publication Editors and Jesse H. Neal awards on behalf of Computerworld. He also writes The Long View for IDG Enterprise. A cross-functional IT geek since 1985, you can follow him as @richi on Twitter, pretend to be richij's friend on Facebook, or just use good old email: You can also read Richi's full profile and disclosure of his industry affiliations.

Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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