Oracle SPARC Software on Silicon

This past week (1-July-2013) Oracle ISV Engineering participated in the Oracle Technology Day, one of the largest IT event in Israel with over 1,000 participants.
During the event Oracle showed the latest technology including the Oracle Database 12c and the new SPARC T5 CPU



Angelo Rajadurai presented the new SPARC T5 CPU and covered the latest features of this technology.




The topics that Angelo presented were:

The SPARC T5 CPU architecture is unique in terms of how it can handle multi-thread workload in addition to very good single thread performance.
When Oracle switched from 40 nanometer technology to a 28 nanometer, the T5 performance doubled; for example :
16 cores versus 8 cores on the T4 – doubled the throughput of this CPU.

Doubled the number of memory links, from 2 in the T4 into 4 on the T5, Each memory link is 12 lanes southbound and 12 lanes northbound and operates at 12.8 Gb/sec.

The I/O subsystem use PCI Express Rev 3 vs Rev 2 on the previous model, which means that we doubled the I/O bandwidth also!

New coherency protocol (e.g. directory-based) which allows near linear fashion from one to eight sockets as well there are seven coherence links, each with 12 lanes in each direction running at 153.6 Gb/sec.

Sixteen cryptography units per SPARC T5 processor.

In addition we increased the CPU clock from 3GHz to 3.6 GHz which improves single thread performance by ~20% without any code modification.

Another CPU capability of the SPARC T5 CPU is the ability to change the core behavior based on the workload.
For example: if the Solaris operating system recognizes that the workload is single threaded, it can change automatically the core characteristic for a single thread performance.
If needed the user can change the core behavior manually.

SPARC T5 brings all of these great features with the same pricing model so the new SPARC T5 servers double your price/performance metric.
No wonder that this server won so many world records

Oracle is the only vendor that published Public CPU roadmap for their future CPUs, and delivered it before time !



Oracle used the SPARC T5 servers as a building block for the Oracle SuperCluster T5-8 which is Oracle’s fastest engineered system.
Combining powerful virtualization and unique Exadata and Exalogic optimizations

You can use the Oracle SuperCluster T5-8 in order to run the most demanding Enterprise applications.



Although the SPARC T5 doubled the performance, we're approaching the limit of physics and we need to think about new approaches for CPU performance acceleration.

The technology that will allow us to keep doubling the performance every two years is the “Software on Silicon” CPU technology.
This technology will run CPU intensive instruction inside the CPU versus in software so it can accelerate the workload performance by order of magnitude.

The first implementation of the “Software on Silicon” is the the Encryption Accelerator.
This intrinsic CPU capability allows us to accelerate the most common bulk encryption ciphers like AES and DES. 
SPARC T5 also supports asymmetric key exchange with RSA and ECC and authentication or hash functions like SHA and MD5.

This built in encryption capability provides end-to-end data center encryption without the performance penalty usually associated with a multi layer data protection.

During our performance encryption benchmarks,we saw negligibly performance overhead when running the same workload using the CPU encryption accelerator (<5%). 

Potentially, we can use the “Software on Silicon” concept and implement it for other CPU intensive tasks such as :

Java acceleration
Database Query
Compression
Cluster Interconnect
Application Data Protection



See Angelo's presentation here


Conclusion - In this post, we described Oracle has improved the SPARC T5 performance in the CPU subsystem ,I/O and coherency capabilities.
In addition, we took a look at what are the possible future plans for the “Silicon on software” CPU technology.


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