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Oracle Sun Microsystems Hardware

Oracle Demos New SPARC T4 Processor 127

Posted by timothy
from the store-away-from-volatile-gases dept.
MojoKid writes "Oracle is publicly demonstrating its new T4 processor today and is shipping beta test systems to selected partners. The new T4 chip is a major departure from previous designs. The T4 offers a maximum of eight cores per physical chip and keeps the T3's eight-threads-per-core limitation. The T4 compensates for its lower maximum theoretical throughput in several ways. First, the T4 is an out-of-order processor with an enhanced branch predictor. Its maximum speed is said to be at least 3GHz, nearly double that of the 1.67GHz T3. Oracle claims the chip's single-threaded performance has been significantly boosted, and expects T4 to deliver a 2x-7x speed increase in single-threaded workloads compared to T3."
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Oracle Demos New SPARC T4 Processor

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  • "Oracle claims the chip's single-threaded performance has been significantly boosted"
    Be that as it may, the TX chips were designed to handle a vast multitude of threads with lower performance per thread. So now they are trying to turn that design around? Seems to me they are designing the processor equivalent of the half-track.

    • by lanc (762334)
      Well, it is still 64 threads per socket, or 256 threads per box that that run parallelly. Is that not vast enough? With the 5x signlethread performance compared to the T3?
      • Well, it is still 64 threads per socket, or 256 threads per box that that run parallelly. Is that not vast enough? With the 5x signlethread performance compared to the T3?

        It may be "vast" enough, but given that 4-8 cores is the most that will typically get used, it may not be *fast* enough, and may be a big waste.

        • If you are only using 4-8 cores at a time, you are clearly not the target audience for these chips.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            Actually, they may be - by definition, when a single thread (one out of 8) gets boosted to the high performance mode, it's one per core - so up to 8 *single threaded* applications could be boosted to high performance. Doing this with a single socket is very cool, being able to do this on a per-core basis is even cooler.

            given some software company's inability to write efficient multi-threaded code, it gives as close as you can get to the best of both worlds. Some cores doing high perf single thread, othe

          • Am I missing something?

            Has Sun produced any non-Tn CPU after UltraSPARC IV+ in 2005?

            I haven't heard anything about UltraSPARC V - only the T line.

            P.S. But probably I shouldn't care anymore. My company recently has just changed the "strategic platform" from Solaris 10 to RHL6.

            • by swordgeek (112599)

              Short answer, no. Not really. There is no UltraSPARC V. The 'traditional' SPARC architecture lives on in the M-series, which has SPARC64 CPUs by Fujitsu.

              We are jumping from Solaris to RHEL as well. It's possible that we work for the same Canadian ISP, but it's more likely that our companies have made the same decision as dozens of others.

        • but given that 4-8 cores is the most that will typically get used

          You clearly don't understand the target market of these chips. In fact, your statement is hilariously ignorant.

          • by segedunum (883035)
            The point that the OP was making was that the target market for these chips is terribly small. The big market is for ever bigger single tasks and threads to be completed in less and less time. The fact that they've had to come up with this halfway-house tells you that this is unlikely to save SPARC as a platform.
            • Unless you happen to have a massively parallel application that needs to serve a huge number of concurrent users. Like, say, a database. Or a web app.
              • Unless you happen to have a massively parallel application that needs to serve a huge number of concurrent users. Like, say, a database. Or a web app.

                In almost any relational database your bottleneck is going to be storage -- you might be able to process things 32 times as fast, but you're still going to have to wait for that save op to complete before doing anything else. As for web apps, well.. it depends.

                • by Bengie (1121981)

                  A heavy read database, like a news site, will have nearly everything cached in memory.

                  I've done ad-hoc aggregate functions against non-indexed tables with over 100mil rows, and they return in sub 10ms times. Cached table data can be fast.

            • by Anonymous Coward

              Terribly small? Most any business who currently uses SPARC would be a target market for these systems. If you consider that small, then I guess we have different opinions on the definition.

              The T4 merges the strengths of the T-Series and M-Series together. Looks good to me.

      • by afidel (530433)
        The more interesting question is will 256 threads per box be enough to compete with 160 threads per box from Intel (8x 10 core Xeon's with hyperthreading) or the monster boxes from IBM, or heck even the 512 thread M9000 they get from Fujitsu.
    • by V!NCENT (1105021)

      A lot of CPUs in one CPU with low power consumption sounds nice, but that sounds a lot like a GPU setup to me.

      Given that GPGPUs are taking over, I smell that they are in need for another problem. My guess is that this powerhouse is seriously going to kick Intel in the balls with Intels failing demonstrations of realtime raytracing.

      So where can I get my hands on a Sparc workstation? >:-)

      • by owlstead (636356)

        This is very much a generic CPU, nothing to do with vector processing. It's main tarket is enterprise & communication application servers. Hence the crypto-units and networking capabilities build in. A GPU might well outrun it regarding vector processing though.

      • i heard you like threads, so i put a CPU in your CPU so you could give all your money to Larry Ellsion while you give all your money to Larry Ellison!

        • by V!NCENT (1105021)

          I saw a T4 blade version with 300GB costing around 600 euro's and a terminal costing around 100 euro's, so I figured that a rack/workstation could add up to just around a 1000 dollars. But according to the replies, this is probably impossible to get (1) and worthless for anything that doesn't float (2).

          Sadly...

      • by Bengie (1121981)

        The T3 has a shared FPU among all those cores. The FP performance is horrible, but it can crank out the int performance required for an efficient web/db server.

        Don't expect Ray Tracing with an INT heavy CPU.

        • by mcclungsr (74737)

          The T1 had a single FPU shared among 8 cores.. The T3 (and T2) has an FPU per core.

          Still, your point about ray-tracing is probably valid, compared to other processors available. If I had a heavily threaded application, I would definitely want to look at T-series SPARCs.

  • Well that's nice. Good for Oracle.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 27, 2011 @09:12AM (#37525470)

    Is it me, or did Oracle completely miss the point of SPARC? We used to use SPARCs where I work for huge, multi-thread or child-spawning applications. If you want a number cruncher, go somewhere else. Go buy a POWER CPU. SPARC's shining glory is the massively threaded model where you spawn tons of little instances of the same thing that serve a quick, non-intensive purpose and die. Once again, Oracle is taking something they bought and trying to ram the square object into the round hole they call their business model.

    Interestingly enough, the captcha for this was "idiots"

    • by eclectus (209883) on Tuesday September 27, 2011 @10:03AM (#37525960) Homepage

      Is it me, or did Oracle completely miss the point of SPARC? We used to use SPARCs where I work for huge, multi-thread or child-spawning applications. If you want a number cruncher, go somewhere else. Go buy a POWER CPU. SPARC's shining glory is the massively threaded model where you spawn tons of little instances of the same thing that serve a quick, non-intensive purpose and die. Once again, Oracle is taking something they bought and trying to ram the square object into the round hole they call their business model.

      Interestingly enough, the captcha for this was "idiots"

      Do you really think Oracle could turn the ENTIRE chip engineering boat around in a year and a half? This best-of-both-worlds fast single threaded and massively multithreaded design was probably in the works for YEARS before Sun was bought.

    • The direction of the T4 has been set for some time. It's overdue - the single thread performance on the T series is basically miserable and has barely improved since the original T chips. My job involves doing a lot of single thread activities on T series hardware, and that makes me a sad panda.
    • by hattig (47930)

      This chip was probably designed before Oracle finished the takeover of Sun, so saying that Oracle is making this change is quite a leap.

      Also the linked article suggests why the design decisions were made in this chip - namely extreme threading compared to the mass market CPUs is getting more and more niche as the mass market CPUs get to 16 threads per socket themselves. Hence this chip going down a higher performance per thread model, with a mode for running a single thread very fast on a core should it nee

  • Oracle? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by aglider (2435074)

    Oracle is as deep in CPU technology as Berlusconi is deep in reliability.
    Maybe it'd read "SUN, an Oracle acquisition, will demo a new T4 Sparc CPU".

  • by aglider (2435074) on Tuesday September 27, 2011 @09:23AM (#37525564) Homepage

    I mean, to (re)introduce a new CPU in the market?
    Either the T4 can run Oracle SQL in silicon or it won't fit in between the Intel/AMD mature technology on one side and the rising (and power saving) ARM on the other one.
    Yes, you can build an "Oracle appliance" with whatever CPU you want, even your very own design. But then will the market share justify the efforts in CPU design?

    No, I don't think they won't ever succeed.

    • by EthanV2 (1211444)

      No, I don't think they won't ever succeed.

      Sooo... You think that they will succeed?

    • by Kjella (173770)

      Either the T4 can run Oracle SQL in silicon or it won't fit in between the Intel/AMD mature technology on one side and the rising (and power saving) ARM on the other one.

      If you think the T4 is even remotely in the same market as ARM you're only showing your own ignorance. They're more in league with IBM's POWER7 and Intel's high end Xeons, running massive servers.

      • by aglider (2435074)

        I do am ignorant. But I think I know the difference, technical and comemrcial, between Intel, AMD, ARM, POWER7, Alpha and so on.
        I simply say, there's no room in the market for another CPU, as almost all of the "atlernative" ones already failed.

        • by Darinbob (1142669)

          This is not a new CPU trying to squeeze in, this is an upgrade to a CPU that is already in the market!

          And if society kept saying "we already have one of those, thank you very much" we'd never make any progress at all.

    • by angel'o'sphere (80593) on Tuesday September 27, 2011 @10:01AM (#37525940) Homepage Journal

      # prstat
      Total: 341 processes, 9909 lwps, load averages: 20.86, 19.36, 20.41

      # prtdiag -v
      System Configuration: Sun Microsystems sun4u SPARC Enterprise M9000 Server
      System clock frequency: 960 MHz
      Memory size: 262144 Megabytes

      Only roughly 3 processes per core ... and yes that is 262 GIGA BYTES of Ram. How much again can an ARM address?

      Well, keep in mind: when we talk about SPARC or the Power PC architecture we also talk about memory bandwidth, failover safety, attached I/O devices etc.

      I don't see anyone trying to build "big iron" with ARMs right now.

      • by aglider (2435074)

        Correct.
        Do you why none (else) is building "big iron" like that?
        Probabily because too few people is asking for them.
        The market buzzwords are "cluster" and "clud". Not "big iron".
        I don't mean that real 64bit hardware is not good. I meat it hardly will succeed.
        You know the glorious story of the wonderful Motorola 68K and 88K. Beautiful CPUs, stinky business.

      • by joshuac (53492)

        Memory size: 262144 Megabytes
        Only roughly 3 processes per core ... and yes that is 262 GIGA BYTES of Ram. How much again can an ARM address?

        Just a minor detail, that looks more like 256 "GIGA BYTES".

      • by blue_teeth (83171)

        Amen to this.

        For the basement types x86 desktop guys. While the whimpering noise you make, please visit a Enterprise Class Datacenter of a large organization (if you are allowed inside). An hour downtime of their Operations System would result in couple of million dollar (USD) costs. This is where Sparc and Power PCs run.

        Please do not compare your Suzukis with a McLaren F1's. (Its a theoretical argument).

        Yes, I have migrated large enterprise Operations Systems from Sparc to x86_64 (Opteron).

        • by djdanlib (732853)

          Huh, I am required to have multiple-factor ID access to one of my large global enterprise's datacenters in case the primary admins get hit by a bus or something, and those systems are all running on modern x86 hardware. Most of what you refer to is running on Microsoft OSes, virtualized under Microsoft or VMware servers on Intel hardware. Sure, some of it is Linux, but it's still on x86. The only remaining Sparc servers are being phased out and no longer perform critical functions. They've been replaced wit

      • by cthulhu11 (842924)
        ... not to mention the freedom from BIOS and anachronistic video consoles
    • by davecb (6526)

      You don't run the sql in silicon to speed things up, you worry about the speed of joins in main memory.

      --dave

      • by aglider (2435074)

        Yeah! That's the RDBMS duty! Which is software.
        So what'd the be the plus of yet another RISC CPU?
        With super-pipelined Intels and AMDs behaving almost like RISC, with multimegabyte L3 caches and so on, the gap between RISC and CISC is almost zero.
        Apart of the power hunger.
        Mine was humor, anyway. A CPU running SQL in silicon is an absurdity.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      It's a server chip. The massive threading they've got right, and it's great for that, but servers aren't just about running oodles of servlets - although that's a huge part of it. The T4 will doubtless outperform any Intel competitor at the same number of simultaneous threads because Sun has that part of the internals down just right and Intel does not.

      The absolutely fastest arrangement Intel has is 4-way SMP, 6-way internal cores, 12 threads per core. (4x6x12) And I do not believe Intel has done any seriou

      • by maraist (68387) *
        I am suspicious of such numbers. You need to pick an application and run it on two machines for comparison. Number of active threads is independent of the number of CPUs - and while this means overhead in context switching into and out-of CPUs, if the reason they're stalled is memory throughput or disk IO, then CPU context switching is irrelevant.. And guess what, the memory throughput has little to do with the CPU.. Namely you can construct a NUMA motherboard where each CPU has localized RAM (and thus un
  • Will it be able to compete with HP and Dell servers in price this time? 8 core intels cost less than 10K these days, I hope SUN^wOracle will start understanding competitive pricing for a change.
    • According to the article, apparently they make up for that by charging extra if you want to run Oracle database on an x86 CPU.

    • by eclectus (209883)

      remember, 8 cores, 8 threads per core, multiple chips per system. I'm sure it's able to be LDOM'ed out as well, so you could in theory have up to 256 single-threaded seperate servers running in this one box. Not in the same league as a little dell/HP box. Like someone else said, This is going after IBM P7. Or people who really want to consolidate.

      • by TheSunborn (68004)
        A shame that the benchmarks show that any decent x86 dual-processor box Hp or Dell will beat this box in both price and performance. (But not in power usage)

        The thing I don't understand is: If you have code which are multit-hreaded enough to max out a T3, then the T4 will not give you any performance benefit. This is odd, considering how old the T3 is.

    • by Bengie (1121981)

      Great for servers, bad for clusters. Very power efficient, but very picky on the type of work they do. Very expensive, but worth it if you need high densities.
      Semi-niche market.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Will it run Linux?

  • by Brandon Hume (73471) on Tuesday September 27, 2011 @09:48AM (#37525780) Homepage

    It's all very nice that they've decided to try and up the single-thread performance. However, it's worth noting that the only thing worthwhile to run on a SPARC nowadays (thanks to Oracle's PMITA licensing structure) is Oracle DB. You buy an Oracle box to run Oracle. Any other workload is nonsensical, as you'll get better single-thread performance from x86, and you'll get way more cycles per dollar from... well, just about any other hardware/OS combination out there.

    So as you consider purchasing this higher-clocked box, I've been told that the Oracle licensing for this machine will be 0.5 per core, while the T3 is 0.25 per core. Basically Oracle will cost approximately twice as much per core on this machine. I'm not a DBA... does that make any sense, when databases are traditionally I/O-bound?

    Incidentally, my first paragraph caused me pain to type... I'm my organization's SPARC and Solaris expert, and I was a big pusher of the platform. Oracle's takeover and subsequent psychotic support costs and absolute blindness to any workload not DB-oriented was a fair kick in the pants to me. I'll fully admit that I'm not impartial.

    • Basically Oracle will cost approximately twice as much per core on this machine. I'm not a DBA... does that make any sense, when databases are traditionally I/O-bound?

      The matter with traditions is that they are outdated at some point. DBs are no longer I/O-bound since typical querries return gigabytes of results that need to be joined and ordered. At least in our days universities have research projects running to utilize the CPU better in modern DBs.

    • by Bigbutt (65939)

      I'm with you and am a big supporter of Solaris and Sun but the Oracle licensing costs were killing the company and killing me since I couldn't get new Sun boxes to replace the old gear. Hence the move to Dell and HP and the transition to mysql for the database side (although when Oracle bought Sun, it threw a bit of a wrench into the works).

      [John]

    • by hattig (47930)

      So you would prefer that they had 16 of the T3 cores at 0.25x per core? Running at maybe 2GHz each because of the design?

      Nah, 8 T4 cores at 0.5x per core, and far greater per-core performance, seems to be a better deal to me. You might lose half of your threads per CPU, but as the article says, that level of threading is getting more and more niche.

      But not as good a deal as not using Oracle in the first place.

  • by Bigbutt (65939)

    Considering the licenses are for the number of cores, changing the number of cores from 16, or 32, or 256 to 8 cores would certainly bring the Oracle DB license costs down again. And since that's the reason we haven't been upgrading our Sun systems and have been moving to Dell R710's or HP, there might be some strategy involved from Sun (since this couldn't have been something that took a bit over a years to produce).

    [John]

  • Really, I'm feeling quite a bit better.

    It would be nice to see sun rise again; although masters of their own demise, they have suffered the way Brittany did.

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