Oracle unveils the SuperCluster T4-4 system, the first to run its new T4 chips. Executives argue that it offers greater performance and costs less than comparable IBM systems.
Oracle executives are looking to
aggressively expand their data center offerings
, both horizontally and
vertically, as the company ramps up its competition against IBM and
CEO Larry Ellison and other executives
on Sept. 26 unveiled the SPARC SuperCluster T4-4, a general-purpose high-end
system powered by the next-generation T4 processor that Oracle hopes will
compete with IBM's most powerful Power-based servers.
At the same time, Oracle co-President
Mark Hurd reportedly said the company may buy more industry-specific software
makers as it looks to grow its portfolio for vertical markets.
Ellison and John Fowler, executive vice
president of systems for Oracle, introduced the SuperCluster during a press
conference at the software giant's Redwood Shores, Calif., headquarters. The
massive system is the third offering from Oracle since it bought Sun
Microsystems early last year for $7.4 billion. The first two-the Exadata database system
and Exalogic cloud server
-were built for specific
jobs. The SuperCluster is aimed at workloads of all sorts, but like the other
two is particularly optimized for Oracle's Solaris operating system and
enterprise applications, Ellison said.
The system is the first to run on the
T4 chip and to run the Solaris 10 or 11 OS, and it incorporates elements of
both the Exadata and Exalogic systems, including Exadata Storage Servers and
Exalogic Elastic Cloud Software. Ellison and Fowler said Oracle is seeing
better performance than expected from the eight-core T4, which offers up to 64
threads. In an interview with eWEEK
following the press conference, Fowler said Oracle officials initially expected
a threefold performance improvement over the current T3 chip. That turned out
to be a five-times performance increase.
Ellison targeted IBM throughout the
event, arguing that the SuperCluster offers significantly better performance at
a lower cost than IBM's high-end P795 servers. He also noted that the
SuperCluster boasts a parallel computing model that provides greater
reliability and security than IBM's system. If one part of the Oracle system
fails, it won't bring down the entire system.
"There is no single point of
failure [in the SuperCluster]," he said. "The P795 is a big single point of
Oracle will sell systems that range
from a low-end offering with a single T4 chip to higher-end systems with four
T4 processors, up to 1 terabyte of memory and 600GB hard disks. The larger
systems will run over five racks.
Oracle's new system comes at a time of
flux for the Unix market. IBM continues to lead the market
, growing its
share by 6 percent in the second quarter, while both Oracle and HP lost share.
HP and Oracle have been locked in a legal dispute since Oracle officials
announced in March that the company would no longer develop software for Intel's Itanium platform
which powers HP's high-end Integrity systems. HP also is being hobbled by
issues in the executive offices, including just appointing its second CEO is
less than a year. Oracle has been trying to retain customers since taking over
Sun's hardware business.
Both Ellison and Fowler said the new
SuperCluster, as well as the Exadata and Exalogic systems, will help Oracle
keep their Unix customers. The new system is backward-compatible with older Sun
SPARC servers, and the performance increase and relative low cost will attract
"We wanted to give them a smooth
upgrade path," Ellison said, adding that he expects existing SPARC customers to
embrace the offering. "It's a big, fast computer."
Fowler said Oracle has more than 50
users beta testing the T4-4 system and showing significant interest in the
While Oracle may be aiming the system
at current SPARC customers, Fowler said the company also is expecting to gain
new customers. "The comparisons with IBM were very obvious," he said
in the interview.
IBM just announced a big win over both
Oracle and HP, with officials saying they will sell Power 750 Express and Power
740 Express systems to the Escorts Group, an India-based manufacturer of heavy
equipment. IBM beat out both Oracle and HP for the contract.
Also on Sept. 26, Oracle's Hurd
reportedly gave several interviews outlining the company's plans for continued
integration of its software and hardware systems. He also told Bloomberg News
that the company will continue eyeing industry-specific software makers in such
areas as financial services.
"There's a lot of value in these
industry verticals we've invested in over the years," Hurd told the news
service, referring to software for the banking, telecommunications and
retailing industries. "It's hard to beat the returns the company