Wednesday, September 28, 2011

SPARC T4: Launched 2011-09-26

[Oracle SPARC T4 Processor]

SPARC T4: Launched 2011-09-26

Product Launch

The Register covered the T4 product launch in an article as well as the Oracle's SPARC SuperCluster in an additional article. The writer was kind enough to include images of the new systems being released based upon the new SPARC T4 silicon.

A simple PDF data sheet on the new Oracle SPARC T4 processor is available on Oracle's web site. On Monday, September 26, 2010 - a presentation and product launch was conducted. The Event Replay is available on-line, but some of the highlights are as follows.

SPARC T4 Announcement

Some features outlined included:
  • high throughput: 8 cores, 8 threads per core
  • high thread performance: clock rate: 2.85GHz and 3.00 GHz.
  • high-thread performance: single thread can use whole core
  • high thread performance: Out of Order execution
  • 4x on-chip DDR3 Memory Controller Channels
  • 2x on-chip 10GigE networking
  • 2x on-chip x8 PCIe 2nd generation I/O interfaces
  • 18 on-chip crypto engines

Price/Performance Comparison

Some price/performance comparisons were made between a T4-4 cluster and IBM POWER 7 system.

2010 Roadmap Reminder

The market was reminded of the 2010 SPARC processor road map and how other vendors refused to release a public road map.

IBM recently released a historical road map with no dates for POWER, but it seem they might be behind.

2011 Roadmap Prediction

Oracle illustrated how SPARC is beating their road map:
  • New T4 processor in advanced customer installations today
  • New T4 processor shipping today for normal customers
  • New T5? processor for 2012, delivery projected 6-12 months early
  • New T6? processor for 2013

2012 SPARC T5?

Details for the next processor, SPARC T5? scheduled to arrive next year in 2012, revealed.

On-Chip Enhancements
  • More crypto enhancements
  • Oracle RDBMS "numbers" acceleration
  • Hardware Decompression (I requested this a few years back!)
  • Memory Versioning (is this Transactional Memory?)
  • Low Latency Clustering
Performance Enhancements
  • Higher core clock rate
  • Multiple pipelines per core
  • More Cores per Socket
  • Larger chip caches
  • More memory bandwidth

Friday, September 23, 2011

Revisited: Oracle Database Licensing

Oracle licenses it's RDBMS by several factors, typically the Standard License (by socket) and an Enterprise License (by core scaling factor.) Occasionally, hardware and operating system vendors will enhance their offerings, requiring a revisit by database vendors to expand their legal categorizations for licensing. Oracle's guiding documents are readily available on-line.

Reason for Revisit:
A fairly extensive set of documents were posted over the past few years, but the URL's to these documents have changed, roughly since the acquisition of Sun by Oracle. Those core documents are listed below with why one might need to reference them.

Software Investment Guide
The Oracle Software Investment Guide is perhaps the most thorough document on performing Oracle installations within an organization. Perhaps these few sentences from the guide best describes what it contains.
We provide a detailed overview on how to license all Oracle products, from the Oracle database platform and application server to all Oracle enterprise applications, which includes Oracle E-Business Suite, Siebel, PeoplSoft, and JD Edwards.

Nine easy-to-read sections enable you to find the topics that interest you most. Within every section, each specific topic has hyperlinks and toll free numbers that enable you to get more information on the subject matter.

Additionally, we've included illustrations to enhance your understanding of our pricing practices related to data environments, batch processing, and more.

Pricing information on Oracle services, such as Support, Outsourcing, Consulting, and Education is also here.

This guide is clearly not isolated to merely Oracle Databases, but it is an authoritative source.

Database Licensing:
Oracle regularly updates their Database Licensing guideline document. Terminology such as Test, Production, Sockets, and Processors are defined within this document. Finer details which are often commonly asked questions include: development databases are normally no charge, but test and production databases must be purchased; Oracle Standard Editions may be charged by socket, but more advanced features means per-processor or per-user licensing must occur with Oracle Enterprise Edition; when dealing with IBM & Intel CPU's, "each chip in the multi-chip module is counted as one occupied socket."

Oracle regularly updates their Server/Hardware Partitioning document, as system vendors create new technologies. Rigorous vendors create technologies categorized under "Hard Partitioning" (i.e. Capped Solaris Containers) while less rigorous vendors often create "Soft Partitioning" technologies (i.e. VMWare.) Some virtualization technology can be implemented as both Hard or Soft Partitioning, so implementation details must be attended to (i.e. Oracle VM implementation notes.) Costs can be controlled through careful architecture decisions, if one understands how a "Processor" is counted in such virtual environments.

Processor Core Factors:
Oracle regularly updates their Processor Core Factor Table, as new CPU designers release new central processor units. Certain multi-core CPU sockets with close throughput but vastly different core counts often have very different pricing (i.e. 16 core SPARC T3 "0.25" vs 8 core SPARC T4's "0.50" factor.)

Commercial Price List:
Oracle's standard Commercial Technology Price List which includes the database packages, is also published in PDF. While this price list changes regularly, Oracle specifies the retail pricing for databases such as: Standard Edition One, Standard Edition, Enterprise Edition, additional add-on components, etc.

In Conclusion:
It would be wise to track these changes to these documents, as new purchases are required, and new architectures are being developed.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Solaris 10: Update 10 - Released!

Solaris 10: Update 10 - Released

Solaris 10 Update 10 has been released, note the "What's New" document.

Performance Enhancements Include:
  • Faster ZFS performance
  • Faster boot, with option to skip POST
  • Faster upgrades: Live Upgrade on ZFS root partition, instead of mirrors
  • Faster installation: use Flash Archive on ZFS root using text mode
  • Faster reboot: option to skip some POST tests
  • Enhanced throughput leveraging smt_pause for busy-wait or idle loops
  • Enhanced throughput: 64 bit libmtmalloc, atomic operations replace locks
  • Faster memory: 64 bit libmtmalloc, matrix lookups replace linked list
  • Use libmtmalloc for applications with threads>=16
  • Use libumem for applications with threads <16
  • Disk I/O improvement for SSD's with poor read-modify-write firmware
  • Improved I/O performance under Nahalem-EX platforms
  • Improved floating point, audio, video processing with Intel AVX Support
  • Faster Oracle startup/shutdown with ISM and DISM improvements
  • Faster high-speed networking for x86 bnx driver Jumbo Frame support
  • Increased network performance through bge driver MSI support
  • Faster RAC 11g via Remote Direct Memory Access interfaces via RDSv3
ZFS Improvements Include:
  • Set file system properties in a sent/received snapshot stream
  • ZFS Diff: Determine differences between snapshots
  • ZFS Recovery: Import a pool missing an intent log file
  • ZFS Recovery: Import a damaged pool read-only
  • ZFS Synchronous Behavior: standard, always, disabled
  • Interval and Count for zpool: list and status
New Capabilities Include:
  • Greater than 2 terabyte memory support
  • Solaris Volume Manager clustered dataset import for recovery
  • User extensibility for up to 1024 group membership
  • SaMBa upgrade to 3.5.8
  • x86 BASH upgrade to 3.2
  • Apache C++ standard library upgrade to 4
Observability Enhancement Include:
  • ZFS Difference capability
  • Processor Group (pginfo) OS performance hardware view
  • Processor Group (pgstat) hardware and software utilization
  • Logical disk name to JBOD or blade chassis bays (diskinfo) view
Security Enhancements Include:
  • LDAP name service tol functionality without LDAP being configured
  • IVv6 NAT on IPFilter
  • Solaris Cryptographic and Key Management Framework support for OKM
  • Additional AES cyphers in kernel SSL (Secure Sockets Layer)
  • New Passwords no longer unlock accounts
  • Password construction policy applies to root by default
  • SSH supports chroot capability
Device Support Enhancements Include:
  • Intel ixgbe driver support for: 82599, x540/x540T
  • Intel igb driver support for: 82576, 82580, i350
  • Intel e1000g 82579LM/LF LOM controllers: 1502,1506, 1519
  • Broadcom bge driver support: BCM5717, BCM5724
  • QLogic P3+ FCoE CNA Ethernet qlcnic and device support
  • Mellanox ConnectX-2 10GigE mcxnex/mcxe drivers for GLDv3
  • Intel Patsburg SCU support: ld60, ld61, ld64, ld65, ld68, ld69
  • LSI MegaRAID Falcon SAS 2.0 HBA device via imraid_sas
  • LSI SAS 2308 HBA storage device via mpt_sas
  • LSI SAS 2208 HBA device via mr_sas
  • Public Generic LAN Driver interface for bge

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Oracle License Change: Add SPARC T4

(Oracle SPARC T4 micrograph)

Oracle License Change: Add SPARC T4


Oracle licenses it's RDBMS by several factors, typically the Standard License (by socket) and an Enterprise License (by core scaling factor.) Occasionally, Oracle will change the core scaling factor, resulting in discounting or liability for the consumer.

The Platform

The SPARC CPU from Oracle is an implementation of the SPARC V9 open specification. There have been several series of chips based upon this implementation: T1, T2, T2+, and T3. The T1 & T2 are both single socket implementations, while the T2+ and T3 are a multi-socket implementation. Oracle has released on their roadmap that the SPARC T4 processor will be coming out shortly.

The Addition

The SPARC T4 has been added to the Oracle RDBMS "Processor-Core Factor Table".

Factor Vendor/Processor
0.25 SUN UltraSPARC T1 <1.4GHz
0.25 Oracle SPARC T3
0.50 SUN UltraSPARC T1 1.4GHz
0.50 SUN UltraSPARC T2+ Multicore
0.50 Fujitsu SPARC VII+
0.50 Oracle SPARC T4
0.75 SUN UltraSPARC IV, IV+, or earlier
0.75 Fujitsu SPARC64 VI, VII
0.75 SUN UltraSPARC T2

Note, Green is new. Oracle has added the T4 processor with a core factor of 0.50.

Impacts to Network Management Infrastructure

It appears that Oracle will be releasing SPARC T4 into production. Purchasing should be watched very closely during this transition period.

If there is the need for increased thread performance, the 8 core T4 may be leveraged instead of the 16 core T3, with no impact to Oracle licensing when databases require an RDBMS.

The UltraSPARC IV+ 21.GHz processors had some of the best single-threaded performance characteristics of any SPARC processor ever produced (albeit, the throughput pales in comparison to any of the newer generation of multicore SPARC systems.)

The Oracle SPARC T4 finally looks like a good candidate to replace those old SUN UltraSPARC IV+ systems, which are so highly cherished for their single thread performance. There is probably no better Network Managment platform to consider at this point in time.