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Oracle Sun Microsystems Hardware

Oracle Releases SPARC T5 Servers; Too Late? 175

First time accepted submitter bobthesungeek76036 writes "On March 26th, Larry Ellison and always with fashionable haircut John Fowler announced the new line of SPARC servers from Oracle. Touted as the fastest microprocessor in the world, they put up some impressive SPEC numbers against much more expensive (and older) IBM hardware. Is the industry still interested in SPARC or is it too late for Larry to regain the server market that Sun Microsystems had many moons ago?" El Reg has a pretty good overview of the new hardware; the T5 certainly looks interesting for highly threaded work loads (there's some massive SMT going on with 16 threads per core), but with Intel dominating for single-threaded performance and ARM-based servers becoming available squeezing them for massive multi-threading, is there really any hope in Oracle's efforts to stay in the hardware game?
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Oracle Releases SPARC T5 Servers; Too Late?

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  • In short, yes. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @11:48AM (#43292823)

    While the T5 may be insignificant to a huge swath of the server market, there are many sectors (financial, energy, Federal, geo, etc.) that make significant use of SPARC platforms. The T5 is a huge advance to these markets. Oracle's not really struggling to stay in the hardware game is the Reg indicates. They produce much of their x86 gear because they use it in the Exa stuff. Their SPARCs are their bread and butter hardware in terms of raw server power. They will sell them as fast as they can produce them. Their recently announced move of manufacturing facilities from Mexico to Oregon is indicative of demand. They build their Exa's in Oregon. They worked a deal with the Oregon state Gov (tax incentives) to move their server manufacturing there in order to compress the logistics lag in getting the servers for the Exa to the kitting facility. Anyway, just my two cents.

  • by marcello_dl ( 667940 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @11:50AM (#43292861) Homepage Journal

    The performance is just a factor, they can sell if Oracle prices it right, accounting for performance-per-watt of their stack vs. the competing ones.

    Sparc being an exotic arch cuts both way, you sure have more trouble with ports, OTOH hackers have to adapt their tools to penetrate those servers, in many cases it's overall a plus.

      The main obstacle IMHO is that those servers come from "we are indeed evil" Oracle ;)

  • by Billly Gates ( 198444 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @11:56AM (#43292941) Journal

    I have not seen Sparcs in years. They are so 2003. Kind of sad as we move to generic x86 but Sun really screwed up marketing these and Oracle is not helping by requiring an Oracle RDBMS license whether they are an oracle shop or not does not help. Oracle has also been happy to tell people with perfectly good Sparc Ultra I's to go fuck themselves we wont patch your systems anymore unless you pay us $$$ for your 12 year old systems you already paid for!

    You can tell I do not like Oracle so consider my opinion biased. True they can multithread really well but the performance is slow and the industry has moved to clustered low cost blades to spread things out instead in such programs. The issue with threading on a single big ass server is not as big as it once was but still used in limited circumstances.

    I thought the UltraSparc was legacy at this point so I am surprised.

  • Re:Probably not. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by drinkypoo ( 153816 ) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @11:57AM (#43292957) Homepage Journal

    I have not heard one single source say they were leaving SPARC because of performance concerns. The shops that buy SPARC equipment do not have price of servers as a primary concern. Everyone who's left has left because of Oracle.

    It is virtually unthinkable that Oracle could or would make the decisions that would reverse this trend.

    Sun is on its way out, and SPARC with it. I wonder what Fujitsu will do next?

  • Ship has sailed (Score:2, Interesting)

    by satsuke ( 263225 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @12:04PM (#43293043)

    Unfortunately, even in (sizable) niches like telecom, the days of exclusively SPARC shops are long over.

    There will be some markets that continue to use Oracle hardware for business continuity sake (Sun/Oracle has ridiculously long hardware lifecycles by industry standards). But as a mass (server) market influence, I think Oracle is done.

  • Re:Probably not. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by NFN_NLN ( 633283 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @12:26PM (#43293309)

    Oracle is going to need to come up with a new game to make waves with the new processor. Simply improving a processor isn't going to change the fact that what people want are low cost processors without vendor lock in.

    They are relying on Oracle Db dominance to bring in the T5. They are working on adding "software on silicon" to future processors so certain DB calls happen at HW speeds.

    As long as Oracle DB has market dominance, then anyone who needs to squeeze absolute performance from their DB; then they logical choice will be SPARC.
    With that user base they can move in to other segments.

    I have nothing against "software on silicon". However, it does smell of anti-competition... I doubt Oracle works with other CHIP designers on this HW API... but I could be wrong.

  • Re:Probably not. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by sl4shd0rk ( 755837 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @12:36PM (#43293435)

    I have not heard one single source say they were leaving SPARC

    Ok , here's one. Albeit a few years ago.. We were having a lot of sad times with the Sun V880. We wanted faster Disk I/O along with a more usable OS. Solaris 9 (& 10), at the time, would boot and run Oracle but it was impossible to get patches for it. We used to download them from Sun's website but then all of a sudden you needed a Vendor ID. After submitting the Vendor ID, downloads still didn't work. iSCSI in particular was important to us but it just didn't work well. Buggy and horribly slow. We finally ended up ditching the V880 and going with two multi-core x86_64 Linux boxes running Centos and SSD raid. The DBA said some of his nightly processes finished in 1/6 of the time it took on the v880. All for a fraction of the cost of the Sun hardware. Yes, the sun stuff is sexy and built like a tank. Yes, it will run for decades without any trouble. If I never see a Sun product again it will be too soon.

  • Re:Probably not. (Score:4, Interesting)

    by tnk1 ( 899206 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @12:52PM (#43293591)

    And I was very clear that there will be organizations that will continue to run both Oracle and Solaris and SPARC. I have direct experience working at those financial and governmental organization and I do fully understand that they have both a great deal of inertia, as well as a decision making process that is filled with bureaucrats and PHBs.

    Still, don't be so sure that the field won't change even there. I don't think I have ever worked in a shop that wasn't 24/7/365 and I have worked in the huge enterprises you are talking about. Sure, they may be running SPARC and Oracle for the next 20-30 years, if they can, just like they ran mainframes almost that long for certain tasks. New growth and new money, however, does not have to take that path, even in big shops.

    And this will sell, but will it "save" the line? I don't think so. If they are talking about continued existence of the line as legacy into the distant future, the lock-in has already achieved that more than the T5 or any upgraded processor ever will. Now, if you are talking about "saving" the line in the sense of it returning to a vibrant growth platform beyond its big business/government niche, I'd say that it is too little, too late, on it's own.

  • Re:Probably not. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TheRealMindChild ( 743925 ) on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @12:53PM (#43293607) Homepage Journal
    Sun was beyond amazing for support. We had a server that wouldn't boot. It threw a kernel panic, went down and it wouldn't come back up without a kernel panic. We had not touched the thing in months. Called support, they asked a few questions about the panic details. Within 15 minutes the support guy KNEW it was cache module and we had one shipped to us overnight so we had our hands on it the next morning. We replaced the module and everything worked.
  • Re:Probably not. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 27, 2013 @06:49PM (#43297693)
    I know all about the eBay fiasco. Sun was not entirely to blame. The eBay folks went against Sun's recommendations when laying out the disk drives among other bad decisions.

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