Oracle Puts SPARC T3 Chip into Netra Servers

At the Mobile World Congress, Oracle is demonstrating new carrier-grade Netra servers powered by the SPARC T3 chip, which offer up to 16 cores and 128 instruction threads.

Oracle officials are bringing their 16-core SPARC T3 processors to their line of Netra carrier-grade servers.

At the Mobile World Congress 2011 show in Barcelona Feb. 15, Oracle unveiled the Netra SPARC T3-1 2U (3.5-inch) rack server and SPARC T3-1BA ACTA blade system, both powered by the latest chip, which Oracle rolled out in September 2010.

The company at the show is demonstrating Oracle software running on the systems, Mark Butler, director of product management for Netra systems at Oracle, said in an interview with eWEEK.

"We've put a lot of work into the [Oracle software] portfolio and we're applying it to the Netra product family," Butler said.

Even before Oracle closed its $7.4 billion acquisition of Sun Microsystems in early 2010, there were many questions around the company's plans for Sun's hardware business. Oracle officials promised to invest in the hardware, and through such devices as the Exadata Database Machine and Exalogic cloud systems, has pushed the strengths of tightly integrating Oracle software onto Sun hardware.

Such benefits will be seen by Oracle's telecommunications customers through such systems as the new T3-based Netra systems, Butler said. The carrier-grade, scalable systems also are part of a larger push by Oracle to create a full portfolio of products for the communications space, including storage devices, software-like the Solaris operating system-and service delivery platforms, according to the company.

According to Oracle, the new Netra T3 systems support twice the I/O bandwidth and memory of previous generations of the servers, with speeds up to 35 percent faster.

The 1.65GHz SPARC T3 offers up to 16 cores-twice the number of the previous generation chip-and 128 threads, and includes on-chip 10 Gigabit Ethernet, PCIe Gen 2 and cryptographic acceleration. Built into the new servers also are Oracle virtualization technologies, including Oracle VM Serer for SPARC and Oracle Solaris Containers. The virtualization technology offers up to 128 virtual machines in a single server, the company said.

The Netra SPARC T3-1BA ACTA blade can put up to 36 SPARC T3 chips-or 3,456 processing threads-into a single rack, a 50 percent jump over previous systems. The blade server will run the 12-core T3 processors, according to Oracle's Butler, a jump up from the 8-core chips running in previous versions.

Such scalability will be important as carriers look to manage the demanding growth of broadband networks and the rapidly growing use of smartphones and other Internet-connected mobile devices, Oracle officials said.

Butler said bringing together the Sun hardware and Oracle software was a natural fit, given the overlap in customers between the two companies. The two sides, merging after the Sun sale, found they shared a lot in common.

"People on the hardware side and the software side would talk about it as -our customer,' and they would find out it was [the others'] customer as well," he said.