Oracle has introduced new products and services based on the firm's high-performance Sparc processor chips, comprising Oracle cloud services using Sparc servers for the first time, along with new servers and mid-range engineered systems to bring the benefits of the Sparc M7 architecture to a broader range of workloads.
The 4.27GHz Sparc S7 has just eight cores, but includes the same 'software in silicon' hardware accelerator functions that make the architecture better suited to key enterprise workloads such as analytics and in-memory databases, according to Oracle.
However, the key point about the Sparc S7 is that Oracle has engineered it to bring the cost down to a more commodity level than the hugely powerful M7, enabling it to be used in a new MiniCluster S7-2 Engineered System targeted at the mid-market, new Sparc S7 servers, and to drive the new Sparc Cloud service at the scale required by customers.
"Effectively, we are announcing a complete suite of enterprise cloud services and on-premise compute solutions, and the key thing here is we are extending the existing M7 platform, whereby we are delivering world-leading performance for business applications, and we are extending that to scale-out applications and the cloud," said Marshall Choy, vice president of systems product management at Oracle.
The Oracle Sparc Cloud service makes the firm the only public cloud provider to offer x86 and Sparc virtual machine instances, Choy said. These are available at the same price as the x86 instances, and initially offered as a dedicated compute instance known as Sparc Model 300.
"We see a lot of interest for customers doing very large-scale consolidation movements to Oracle Public Cloud services using Sparc," Choy said.
Oracle is not actually the first cloud service provider to offer Sparc-based virtual machines, as a firm called CloudSigma announced such support a couple of years ago. However, large enterprise customers with Sparc-based workloads are likely to have greater enthusiasm in migrating some of these to Oracle's own cloud.
Meanwhile, the Oracle MiniCluster S7-2 uses the new Sparc S7 chip to deliver an engineered system that provides the appliance-like simplicity of its enterprise systems to a broader customer base.
"The big deal here is straightforward simplicity. This system has been engineered to provide a massive reduction in administration tasks and effort, whether that is in Unix operating system administration or Oracle Database administration, security and compliance, or high availability," Choy said.
This includes push-button lifecycle management, the integration of 225 separate security controls into a single point-and-click interface, and enabling regular compliance checking to be set up and executed in seconds, according to Oracle.
Also new is a pair of two-socket rack-mount server systems based on the Sparc S7 chip. The S7-2 and S7-2L are directly targeted at commodity x86 systems, offering higher performance for analytics and other enterprise workloads thanks to the on-chip accelerator features.
Compared with the M7 chips, the S7 integrates board-level functions such as the DDR4 memory controller and PCI Express bus on-chip, helping to reduce the overall system cost.
"As a result, we now have a system which is very capable and suitable from a functionality and cost perspective for horizontal scale-out applications as well as cloud-native applications," said Choy.
"We see these systems penetrating much further into analytic workloads for things like Apache Spark as well as addressing a variety of other workloads."
The per-core efficiency is 50 to 100 per cent better than comparable x86 systems, he claimed, while analytics performance is up to 10 times better.
"Our vision with all these offerings is that we are enabling customers to build the high-performance, fully-encrypted secure cloud using things like Silicon Secured Memory for malware protection and very high performance encryption. There's now no reason for customers not to build their clouds or their application infrastructure fully encrypted," Choy said.
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