Monday Aug 29, 2011

Nyt om næste generation SPARC T-series

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Nedenstående artikel er fra IDC og inderholder rigtigt spændende statistik og et super positivt indtryk af T4 serien samt forventningerne dertil..

Oracle Drives SPARC T-Series Processors to the Next Generation Jean S. Bozman,

 Lloyd Cohen August 23,

Oracle is ready to take its SPARC processors to the next generation, preparing the T4 series of processors for introduction this fall. The formal introduction is likely to take place at the Oracle OpenWorld conference in early October, IDC believes, with volume shipments in 2012.

The move to T4 was clearly defined on the company's SPARC roadmap, which was shown at Oracle OpenWorld in September, 2010 – and it is the first of several steps planned to expand the role of the SPARC processors used in the company's T-Series servers. The same timeline showed that Fujitsu Ltd. is continuing to extend its implementations for SPARC64 VII+ processor designs through 2015.

Oracle acquired the SPARC CMT (chip multithreading) technology when it acquired Sun Microsystems Inc., in January, 2010. Since then, Oracle has taken some time to refine the next implementation for the T-Series processors, moving from T3 to T4 designs – and then taping out the new processor – and readying it to be manufactured by TSMC in Taiwan.

Key Features of the T-Series Roadmap

 Oracle has been open about the basics of the SPARC roadmap for T-series processors, as announced and discussed at Oracle OpenWorld in September, 2010. Although the exact details about the launches and the technical timeline are not known, the overall plan has been described at Oracle OpenWorld as follows:

 • T3-3 was introduced in fall, 2010, with 16 cores and 128 threads. • The T3 series replaced the SPARC T2, which was introduced in 2007 with 8 cores and 64 threads

• T3-3 servers were introduced in the T3-1B blade; T3-1 rack optimized server (2 RU) and the T3-2 rack optimized server (3RU) products in 2010

 • T4-based servers are expected to be announced in fall, 2011, with server form-factors from 1 to 4 sockets; volume shipments are expected in 2012. A major release of the Oracle Solaris operating system, Solaris 11, is expected to ship at the same time, although beta versions and Solaris Express versions have been available to developers and Oracle partners since late 2010

. • Another T-Series server product refresh is expected to take place in 2013 – two years following the initial T4 announcement this fall, and it will be coincident with another update of Solaris 11.

 • Oracle expects to work with Fujitsu to have updates to the Fujitsu-designed SPARC64 VII+ processors for the M-Series servers with announcements in 2012 and 2014, as indicated in the roadmaps shown at Oracle OpenWorld 2010, which have been published to the Internet. Both the Oracle T processors and Fujitsu SPARC64 processors are designed to the same "V9 architecture" so that they run the same applications.

A New Design

The T4 marks an inflection point in the T-Series designs, because it improves single-thread performance beyond what it was in the T3 processors. It is an important step toward making the T-series into general-purpose processors that are more broadly used within the enterprise. IDC notes that the initial T-Series designs were optimized around high parallel thread counts and improving aggregate data rates for Web-enabled workloads.

The new T4 processor, running at 3GHz or more, has features that will also allow T4-based systems to take on some workloads that today are going to Intel Xeon processors, which today perform faster on single-thread workloads than do the T3- series of SPARC processors.

IDC believes the reason for the design changes is clear: Oracle wants T4 to improve performance for line-of-business applications and databases, compared to earlier SPARC CMT T-Series processors, which were originally designed to support network-centric workloads, like Web-serving, proxy, cache and support of Web-enabled edge and app-serving workloads.

 Importantly, the design requirements have been changed from generation to generation to address a broader swath of the enterprise market. To do that, the decision has been made to reduce the number of cores in T4 processors from 16 to 8, thus reducing the total number of threads. However, the overall speed for integer-based workloads and overall throughput have increased, especially for business applications.

Competition in the Marketplace

At the Hot Chips 2011 conference, an IEEE technical conference held at Stanford University from August 17-19, 2011, Oracle systems engineers described the top features of the new T4 processors, including a 16-stage integer instruction pipeline and enhanced cryptographic performance. Among the business benefits associated with the new design will be: double the amount of per-thread throughput performance, compared to T3 – and a range of 2 to 7 times more single-thread performance for business workloads than T3 processors. Given the binary-compatibility of T3 and T4, this means that the same Oracle Solaris applications that have been running on T3 will see considerable speedup on T4, without recompilation.

The T4 includes a new S3 core, which supports dynamic threading, out-of-order execution and enhancements to branch prediction. The T4 processors were designed by Oracle, and will be manufactured by TSMC in Taiwan. With T4, Oracle will be building a series of systems around the new capabilities, which will be directly applicable to the enterprise applications and databases offered by Oracle Corp. IDC believes this will align the SPARC T-series hardware more closely with advanced features in Solaris 11 and with Oracle's full portfolio of software products.

IDC believes Oracle will prize the T4's improved performance for single-threaded workloads, because they will make SPARC-based systems more competitive against general-purpose systems from other vendors, including those based on x86 processors or IBM POWER processors. In a cloud-computing environment, it will allow service providers to consider Oracle T4 systems to host a wider range of business applications for SaaS delivery than was previously the case.

The Next Wave of T-Series Processors Will Build on T4's Design

 IDC expects that the total number of cores will again begin to rise with the introduction of the next wave of T-series processors (T5), now expected to take place by 2013. Both of these T-Series processors (T4 and T5) will be important for Oracle, which would like to expand sales of Oracle software to its large installed base of Sun servers, which Oracle estimates at more than 50,000 customers worldwide—representing hundreds of thousands of Sun (now Oracle) servers still running worldwide.

Having new SPARC designs is critical to this goal, because many of the older SPARC-based servers are aging out – or being replaced – with some of the workloads going to x86 servers and others to competitors' Unix server products. The worldwide installed base of Sun customer sites is an important part of Oracle's large installed base for all Oracle products – which Oracle has said exceeds 370,000 customers worldwide (including the former Sun sites).

Competition in the Unix Server Market

Oracle also plans to extend the SPARC server base, as it competes more heavily with IBM, which sells the IBM Power systems (based on POWER7 processors) and HP, which sells the HP Integrity servers based on Intel Itanium processors (e.g., HP Integrity Superdome). IBM, HP, Oracle and Fujitsu are the top 4 Unix systems vendors worldwide, selling into a Unix server market that is estimated to be from $11 billion to $12 billion in factory-revenue sales in 2012 (server hardware revenue only). Including storage, software and services, the Unix ecosystem is likely to generate several times that amount of revenue worldwide in 2012. IDC notes that Fujitsu Ltd. has a working relationship with Oracle, because Fujitsu Ltd., as manufacturer of the M-Series – a relationship that was reaffirmed in a February, 2011 press release.

A Building Block

Although Oracle will continue to build and to sell low-end, entry servers in both the SPARC and x86 server market spaces, it has said that it will do so with fewer SKUs in each category than did Sun Microsystems, to simplify manufacturing, distribution and sales. This will help to keep overhead costs low, while focusing on systems that carry higher margins – and can host other layers of Oracle technology (e.g. database, applications and middleware).

While Sun targeted volume shipments to expand its installed base, Oracle is more likely to select a few "builds" for T4-based servers as building-blocks for clusters, arrays and what it terms "engineered systems" that combine servers, storage and software. Early examples of engineered systems are Oracle Exadata Database Machine (based on x86 processors) and Oracle ExaLogic Elastic Cloud (based on either x86 Intel Xeon processors or SPARC T3 processors on its launch in December, 2010).

Oracle will likely use new T4-based series models as building blocks for a range of engineered systems, leveraging its clustering software technology (Oracle RAC); Oracle Coherence software for grid arrays, and InfiniBand links for connectors and flash storage to create a product line based on new T4 Series processor designs. The T4 processors, based on the new S3 cores, will be further developed, with new versions of the processors expected to appear on a yearly cadence in coming years.

The Big Picture for Oracle's Server Business

In the 18 months since Oracle acquired Sun Microsystems, some themes have emerged in the strategy that Oracle is describing in its announcements, updates and press releases. Oracle is a software company that acquired a systems company. All told, Oracle's year-end revenue was $35.6 Billion (GAAP), with 71% of its quarterly revenue in 4QFY11 (ended May 31, 2011) coming from software licenses, software updates and support; 17% from hardware (including 11% from hardware products and 6% from hardware support) and 12% from services.

Given the time that has elapsed since the January, 2010 Sun Microsystems acquisition, it is easier to see why Oracle was so confident that Sun's systems sales would not disrupt its overall revenue results. Although the Oracle hardware business declined 6% in 4Q11, as the company reported in its earnings report in May, Oracle is planning to improve the systems revenue and profitability of its systems business by selling a range of Oracle software products and services, along with the servers it sells. The "attach" story could be further developed by Oracle, IDC believes. For example, sales of storage and tape will also occur, as additive to the server sales—and that will become more important because Oracle is ending Oracle direct sales of third-party storage devices.

Future Outlook

Much of the discussion at last year's Oracle OpenWorld was about Exadata engineered systems and the T3 systems (blades and 2-socket systems) that were announced last fall. But this year, the SPARC progress has been substantial – and IDC believes that the pace of introductions following the T4 announcements this fall will be much faster than it was in 2010. Engineered systems based on SPARC T4 servers can be expected to cover a wider range of workload scenarios than before – given T4 features – including larger database and enterprise application workloads.


 In summary, the last 18 months have been important ones for Oracle, in terms of accelerating its plans for T4 products, and follow-ons. Given the multiple deployment scenarios that T4 could fulfill (e.g. standalone and clustered server systems; engineered systems; and platforms for cloud computing), IDC expects to see Oracle drive multiple sales and marketing initiatives to expand the market for T4-based server systems, as standalone systems and in engineered systems, in 2012.



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