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Oracle Won't Abandon SPARC, Says Ellison 280

Posted by timothy
from the this-intermediation dept.
fm6 writes "When the Oracle acquisition of Sun Microsystems was announced, it was widely assumed that Oracle was interested only in Sun's software technology, and would sell or discontinue all its hardware businesses. Larry Ellison, in an interview just posted on the Oracle web site, says that's not what's going to happen. In particular, SPARC isn't going anywhere (PDF): 'Once we own Sun we're going to increase the investment in SPARC. We think designing our own chips is very, very important. Even Apple is designing its own chips these days.'"
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Oracle Won't Abandon SPARC, Says Ellison

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  • Re:Of course (Score:4, Informative)

    by rackserverdeals (1503561) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @10:28PM (#27871885) Homepage Journal

    Servers were Sun's highest margin stuff? No wonder they plummeted and got bought.

    I said highest margin products, meaning not software or services. The SPARC line of servers is higher margin than their x86 line.

    Sun's services revenue [rackserverdeals.com] has grown to be almost what their products revenue is over the years. While they're not as big as IBM Global Services, the combination of Sun's services and Oracle's will give them a leg up.

  • Re:Of course (Score:5, Informative)

    by larry bagina (561269) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @10:45PM (#27872035) Journal
    The last year or so, Apple has been putting some serious effort into custom chip design, purchasing P.A. Semi [wikipedia.org] and hiring key design guys from IBM and AMD/ATI.
  • Re:More than routers (Score:3, Informative)

    by rackserverdeals (1503561) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @10:50PM (#27872095) Homepage Journal

    Now, I don't think that they should actually make the chips -- just design them

    I don't think Sun has ever manufactured chips. They just design them and outsource the manufacturing. Ellison says they will continue to do that in the PDF linked in the summary.

  • by phantomfive (622387) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @10:58PM (#27872165) Journal
    Sure. ARM is not a single processor, it is a family of processor pieces. Companies license the various pieces from ARM, and put them together in any way they want. Thus you can get a cheap, low power ARM that only costs a few dollars, or you can get more powerful chips. You can also tweak the design in weird ways like reversing the byte order. You can get some that carry their RAM with them on the same chip. Thus the ARM in the iphone is different than the ARM in the Kindle which is different than the ARM which is in the doorknob at the hotel.

    So the fact that the ARM in your computer is slow is no reflection on every other ARM (also, if it is really that slow on the command line, the problem might be you don't have enough RAM. Realistically the command line was supported by chips running 1 at megahertz. You might want to check to see if stuff keeps getting swapped out). ARM can be fast or it can be slow, it can be anything you want it to be. It is a much more flexible design than the x86.
  • by mako1138 (837520) on Thursday May 07, 2009 @11:08PM (#27872257)

    Moore's law [wikipedia.org] involves transistor count, not clock speed. Note the graph in the WP article.

    But I agree that the infernal P4 got the industry to rethink clock speed as the be-all and end-all of microprocessing. Leakage at 90nm and below was a big problem, too.

  • by bhtooefr (649901) <bhtooefr.bhtooefr@org> on Thursday May 07, 2009 @11:23PM (#27872393) Homepage Journal

    Moore's Law (more like Moore's Observation) refers to transistor count, not clock frequency... and multicore does nothing to slow that down.

  • Re:Designing chips (Score:3, Informative)

    by ThrowAwaySociety (1351793) on Friday May 08, 2009 @01:32AM (#27872581)

    No, but compared to PCs of the era I could probably get away with calling the SE/20 or SE/30 fashion accessories.

    They were certainly great little machines too, but style was key (and that's where you start hearing the anecdotes about Steve micromanaging the UI design of everything.)

    Odd, since Jobs had left the company (ie. been fired) by then.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 08, 2009 @02:19AM (#27872887)

    "Some video codec?"
              ffmpeg decodes nearly everything, I don't think I've used a binary codec in quite a long time... MPEG-2, MPEG-4, H.264, .flv, wmv9, even realvideo files, ffmpeg does it natively.

            Apps? Maybe skype, and googleeath (but googleearth would not run on one of these anyway due to lack of 3d accelerator.) I've heard there's a flash for arm so that's not missing. If you pop Ubuntu onto a powerpc or whatever, it's a revelation -- you realize quick, there's not that much on a linux desktop that relies on x86.

  • Re:Of course (Score:5, Informative)

    by joib (70841) on Friday May 08, 2009 @04:04AM (#27873485)


    I said highest margin products, meaning not software or services. The SPARC line of servers is higher margin than their x86 line.

    It better have damn good margins. Intel, and to a lesser extent AMD, can amortize their R&D and fab costs over a zillion units. Meanwhile, last quarter [theregister.co.uk] Sun sold 60000 servers, 28000 of which were x64, leaving only 32000 SPARC systems. Again, of the SPARC systems $500m revenue was for the Sun-Fujitsu SPARC enterprise products using Fujitsu SPARC64 chips, and $300m revenue for their own Niagara systems. So yeah, with those revenues they better have damn good margins if they are going to spend more than a pittance on R&D.

    It wouldn't surprise me if they sell the rest of the SPARC chip business to Fujitsu pretty soon, provided Fujitsu wants it. That doesn't of course mean they would be killing SPARC, just that they'd be expanding the current Sun-Fujitsu deal to cover all SPARC chips.

    As for Ellison's comments, his job at the moment is obviously to convince Sun shareholders to approve the deal, some of which might well have some sentimental attachment to the SPARC business. I wouldn't trust what he says wrt Sun for one second, at least until the deal is through.

    As for services, with hardware increasingly commoditized, that's the obvious way to go. It's no surprise that the remaining survivors of the unix wars, IBM & HP, are both heavily into services.

  • Re:Designing chips (Score:3, Informative)

    by thetoadwarrior (1268702) on Friday May 08, 2009 @06:37AM (#27874321) Homepage
    People only think Macs look nice because PCs have always been so butt fucking ugly.
  • by asaul (98023) on Friday May 08, 2009 @10:29AM (#27876353)

    We had a large java application that was running out of capacity on a fully stocked E6900 (24 dual core 1.35Ghz US-IV cpus). We had a demo T5240 handy to try it on. The component we moved off used about 35% of the CPU on the E6900. On the T5240 it used about 15%. The drop in CPU load on the E6900 was about 50% (scheduling etc - it was Solaris 8 so not the best for 48 cores).

    The T2+ CPUs absolutely tear it up for Java - we figured moving the entire app from the constrained E6900 would only use about 40-50% of the T5240. Not bad for a 2RU box vs a full cabinet machine that is a fraction of the price.

    I did some database testing with the machine while we had it for a demo - Oracle 11G on ZFS on the T5240 basically performed 1:1 with a POWER5 LPAR, when you take into consideration the difference in clock speeds (1.4Ghz on T2, 1.9Ghz on P5). The issue was the query in question was CPU bound - so the machine was only showing like 2% utilisation. If you have highly concurrent small queries, a T2 would be ideal - but if you have CPU bound larger stuff it just wont keep up with its single threaded performance.

  • by CarpetShark (865376) on Friday May 08, 2009 @10:32AM (#27876379)

    They are also good at knowing what businesses want

    That must be why they kept going into companies to sell Oracle RDBMS, only to find the companies preferred MySQL.

  • Re:Designing chips (Score:3, Informative)

    by mzs (595629) on Friday May 08, 2009 @11:16AM (#27876811)

    You picked sort of a bad yet sort of a good example in the IBM PCjr. Yes I had one. That really was the best of the design for home use from IBM at the time. The design emphasized different characteristics though. The Mac had small where luggable was important, the PCjr had small where expandable was important. But the real problem in your comparison is that the Mac was made as a competitor to the IBM 5150, while the IBM PCjr was made as a competitor to the Apple II line (in particular the IIc). There was innovation in the Mac that was not in the PCjr simply since it was not targeting the same audience (like the mouse+gui) so I am going to ignore that.

    So some things where the PCjr was innovative:

    That thing on the side, that was an expansion module, you could just keep plugging in in more on the side. That one in the picture was probably a parallel port sidecar.

    The two holes on the bottom, those were for ROM carts, I had a BASIC ROM and a few games.

    That little circle on the bottom, that was an infrared receiver for the wireless keyboard.

    That monitor on top was an RGBI style CGA+ monitor. RGBI was digital. The PCjr could do 320x200 16 color and 640x200 4 color and that monitor was really crisp at 80x25 at the time.

    The PCJr also had good sound for the time, I think better than Apple II.

    They also had a light pen connector and two joystick ports. Yes I had software that used the light pen, again targeted to home use where at the time mouse seemed not as simple for kids and certainly not as good for drawing (hee hee).

    But in fact that wireless keyboard truly sucked. It was not fun to type on, the Apple II and IIc keyboards were much nicer. So there is a case of innovation gone wrong at IBM.

    If you wanted to pick a worse example from the PC camp you could have picked the Tandy 1000. That was a typical large box with drive bays and a few 8-bit expansion ports. It was ugly by Apple standards. The innovation there was that some later models (was it the XL) had a higher speed NEC 8088 compatible. The PCjr was small in comparison.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 08, 2009 @11:54AM (#27877261)

    IBM is only 35% bigger than Oracle+Sun, not quite a "giant compared to OraSun. Oracle now has a R&D group that can go toe-to-toe with IBM (ie, patent royalties).

    Btw, Exxon is 2.5 bigger than IBM... Now *that* is a giant.

"Irrationality is the square root of all evil" -- Douglas Hofstadter

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