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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hardware: Engineered System for General-Purpose Computing

SPARC SuperCluster T4-4 delivers extreme performance and value.

The engineered system model that made Oracle Exadata Database Machine and Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud the fastest dedicated-purpose systems has come to general-purpose computing with the release of Oracle’s SPARC SuperCluster T4-4.

Introduced by Oracle CEO Larry Ellison and Oracle Executive Vice President John Fowler on September 26, 2011, at a live launch event, SPARC SuperCluster T4-4 is based on the new SPARC T4 processor that has already achieved nine world-record benchmarks across a wide range of workloads.

SPARC SuperCluster T4-4 runs on both Oracle Solaris 11 and Oracle Solaris 10 and offers complete forward and backward application compatibility for the thousands of customers running applications on Oracle Solaris today. “We wanted to give [customers] a very smooth upgrade path, and that’s what the SPARC SuperCluster T4-4 is,” Ellison said at the event.

The brain of the new SPARC SuperCluster T4-4 is the new SPARC T4 processor, which is up to five times faster for single-threaded workloads than the SPARC T3 processor that it replaces, Ellison said. Fowler concurred, noting that the SPARC T4 family is “the biggest single-generation performance boost in SPARC history.”

The SPARC T4 processor integrates outof-order execution and dynamic threading to provide optimal performance regardless of an application’s execution profile.

The SPARC T4’s integrated cryptographic stream processing unit supports 16 industrystandard security ciphers without introducing processing overhead. The SPARC T4 processor also exploits the virtualization capabilities of Oracle Solaris Zones and Oracle VM Server for SPARC, enabling customers to improve system utilization while reducing space and power requirements.


SPARC SuperCluster T4-4 can come equipped with either two or four SPARC T4-4 servers to provide up to 16 eight-core processors and 4 terabytes of memory in a single rack.

It includes redundant InfiniBand-attached ZFS storage clusters for high-performance network-attached storage, and Oracle Exadata Storage Servers for unmatched Oracle Database 11g performance. Because SPARC SuperCluster T4-4 integrates both hardware and software from Oracle, its strengths are magnified, Fowler said. “Many different companies could, potentially, put different racks of hardware together,” he said. “But what binds this together is the software.”

SPARC SuperCluster T4-4 has been optimized for running Oracle Solaris 11, Oracle VM Server for SPARC, Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud software, and Oracle Database 11g.

The entire system is managed using Oracle Enterprise Manager and Oracle Enterprise Manager Ops Center, which is now bundled with Oracle Premier Support.

The net result of Oracle’s applicationsto-disk engineering is a system built and tuned for performance. “You cannot make a strong package out of a collection of weaker components,” Fowler said. “Here at Oracle we’ve been investing in SPARC and investing in Oracle Solaris to create these leadership technologies.”


Because of the extreme performance and powerful virtualization built into SPARC SuperCluster T4-4, organizations can consolidate many existing applications onto one system while enjoying improved performance. Organizations can attach additional Exadata Storage Expansion Racks or their existing storage area network using an optional Fibre Channel adapter. And if even greater computing power is needed, up to eight SPARC SuperCluster T4-4 systems or Exadata Storage Expansion Racks can be interconnected.

“Oracle is changing the dynamics of the data center by combining the industry’s best technology—the SPARC T4 processor, Oracle Solaris 11, Oracle Exadata storage, and Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud—into a versatile, secure, general-purpose engineered system,” Fowler said. “Oracle’s SPARC SuperCluster T4-4 is an ideal platform for application and server consolidation that demonstrates how engineered systems can deliver huge performance at a fraction of the cost of competing solutions.”