Oracle Refreshes Sparc Server Lineup

Michael Vizard

After several years of being on the defensive in terms of the performance capabilities of Sparc processors, Oracle today came out swinging.

With the launch of a range of servers based on a new generation of T5 and M5 Sparc processors, Oracle says it can now lay claim to the best price/performance capabilities in the general-purpose server category.

According to Ravi Pendekanti, vice president of the Oracle platform business group, T5 processors consist of 16 cores. Each core can process up to eight threads simultaneously, resulting in T5 servers that are twice as fast as the company’s previous line of T4 servers. From a price/performance point of view, the new T5 servers provide a 700 percent improvement for Oracle database and 1,200 percent improvement for Oracle middleware, says Pendekanti.

The T5 line of servers is available in two-, four- and eight-socket servers, while the M5 is available in 16- and 32-socket implementations that give IT organizations the choice of either scaling up or out application performance. According to Oracle, the 32-socket M5 server is now the fastest general-purpose computing platform in the world and offers a 2.5 times cost advantage over a comparable IBM system.

After fending off attacks from IBM in particular concerning the relative performance of Power Series versus Sparc servers running Oracle software, the new T5 line of servers should give Oracle the raw processing power needed to be competitive in a RISC server category that has seen unit shipments steadily decline over the past several years.

That decline in server shipments is attributable to both inroads that Intel has made in the server category and the simple fact that each server is now running more workloads than ever thanks to the advent of virtualization.

Pandekanti declined to say when Oracle would be using T5 systems in more highly integrated servers that would compete with rival platforms such as the IBM PureFlex or Cisco Unified Computing System (UCS) platforms.

Since acquiring Sun Microsystems in 2010, Oracle has fallen under steady criticism for not refreshing Sparc servers rapidly enough. The T5 and the M5 series systems are designed to address that core issue, which may be the reason why, despite all criticism leveled at the company, Oracle has stuck by its server hardware strategy.



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