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Oracle revs up Sparc, speeds up roadmap

Years to go before Larry dumps x86 and Sparc64

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None of this, however, may be as important as the idea of accelerating specific Oracle software operations in future Sparc T Series chips. This is where the "engineered systems" value of Oracle's acquisition of Sun will start coming into play.

This hardware-software stack approach is something that IBM has been able to do for decades with its Power and mainframe processors, and that HP has largely lost the ability to do because Intel, not HP, controls the Itanium processors that run HP's HP-UX, NonStop, and OpenVMS platforms; HP doesn’t have its own operating systems for Xeon processors and is basically a Red Hat and Microsoft reseller.

Perhaps HP should have kept the PA-RISC chips and therefore control of its destiny?

"In future silicon designs," explained Fowler, "what we are now doing is looking at acceleration in native Oracle data types that underlie the database, in dramatically improving coherency for building clusters, for protecting memory for large in-memory applications, and so on.

"We are actively working across all parts of the engineering team and instead of only doing threads and cores and clocks and I/O – which we will do – we are now starting to embed core elements for the acceleration of enterprise software directly into the processor. This will give us tremendous amounts of capability as measured by performance, scalability, memory capacity, and so on."

Ultimately, Oracle is pitting its engineered systems and its control over software against the commodity x86 architecture and the ubiquity of Windows and Linux.

Guess which is stickier: enterprise applications and databases, or servers and their processors? Given that we all know companies will change servers way before they will change database and application software, what happens when the software vendor actually delivers tuned hardware for those applications and other hardware vendors can't without the cooperation of that software vendor?

I don't know for sure, but I think we are eventually going to find out. It may even involve more lawsuits than the HP-Oracle Itanium suit. ®

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