Oracle's new T5 Sparcs boost scalability in chip and chassis

Also aims brawny M4 – scratch that – M5 CPU at big-iron workloads

Meet the T5 servers

Even though the new Sparc T5 series of servers are very similar to the Sparc T4 boxes these now replace in the Oracle lineup, you can't take a Sparc T5 chip and put it into a Sparc T4 machine because they do not use the same processor sockets or interconnect.

To recap, the T5 chip has 16KB of L1 data cache, 16KB of L1 instruction cache, and 128KB of L2 cache for each of its sixteen cores, plus an 8MB L3 cache that all of the cores share. Each core has eight processing threads, for a total of 128 threads per socket.

The chip has two PCI-Express 3.0 controllers on the die plus four memory controllers that can drive up to sixteen DDR3 memory sticks running at 1.07GHz. There are two out-of-order integer execution pipelines and one floating point unit on the T5's S3 core. There are also cryptographic and encryption accelerators on the T5.

Generally speaking, Choy says that a T5 has about 2.3 times the throughput of a T4, which is the result of the doubling up of the number of cores on the T5 and goosing the clock speed by 20 per cent. Single-threaded app performance will be goosed by around 20 per cent because of those extra clock cycles.

With the T5 machines, as El Reg explained in detail last summer, the T5 has an on-chip NUMA interconnect that can be used to gluelessly create machines with two, four, or eight sockets, and the 8x9 crossbar switch that implements this NUMA has a bi-section bandwidth of 1TB/sec, twice that of the T4 interconnect. (It scales across twice as many sockets, so that stands to reason.)

The Sparc T5-1B blade server for the 6000 series chassis

The Sparc T5-1B blade server for the 6000 series chassis

The first T5 machine is the Sparc T5-1B blade server, and it is the only single-socket box that Oracle is putting out (at least today) using its new chip for entry and midrange systems. The T5-1B server slides into the same Sun Blade 6000 chassis that Sun Microsystems got many years ago when Sun cofounder Andy Bechtolsheim sold his company, Kealia, to Sun to try to give it a better server story. That chassis holds up to ten blades and virtualizes the I/O to the network and storage from the blade itself.

The Sparc T4-1B blade had an eight-core chip running at 2.85GHz, so the jump up to sixteen cores running at 3.6GHz is going to provide a big jump in performance. The T5-1B blade server has an integrated 10 Gigabit Ethernet interface and sixteen memory slots for a maximum capacity of 256 GB using 16GB memory sticks – the T5-1B also supports 8GB sticks if you want to go cheaper and less dense on the memory. There are also two 2.5-inch disk bays in the blade for local disk or SSD storage.

You can't have just one in a racker: The two-socket Sparc T5-2

You can't have just one in a racker: the two-socket Sparc T5-2

Oracle does not have a single-socket Sparc T5 rack machine, but it does have the Sparc T5-2 two-socketeer with a chassis that is essentially the same as the T4-2. It has two compute-memory units, or CMUs in the Oracle lingo and what Sun used to call a uniboard back in the day. Each card holds one T5 processor and sixteen memory slots, and plugs into the system board to link them to each other using the NUMA interconnect and to the peripherals and ports in the chassis.

Memory in the T5-2 tops out at 512GB using 16GB sticks, and the server comes with four 10GE ports standard. There's room for six 2.5-inch disk drives on the right side of the chassis, and Oracle has 300GB or 600GB 2.5-inch SAS drives or 100GB or 300GB SSDs as options. The box has eight PCI-Express 3.0 x8 slots and room for two 2,060 watt power supplies.

The Sparc T5-4 has four of the new T5 chips under the skin

The Sparc T5-4 has four of the new T5 chips under the skin

The Sparc T5-4 is a 5U rack server that has four of the CMUs crammed into its chassis. Each CMU slides in from the front like a blade server, albeit horizontally instead of vertically, and a disk shelf below the CMUs has room for eight hot-plug disk drives.

The box tops out at 64 cores, 512 threads, and 2TB of main memory, with four 10GE network ports and sixteen PCI-Express 3.0 slots, and has redundant 3,000 watt power supplies. This T5-4 box has enough oomph, says Choy, to be a hefty application server or a database server for midrange customers.

The Sparc T5-8 has twice the sockets and four times the cores as the top-end Sparc T4-4 system

The Sparc T5-8 has twice the sockets and four times the cores as the top-end Sparc T4-4 system

The T5-8 server basically adds 3U of space at the top of the T5-4 so another four CMUs can slide into that NUMA interconnect and create an eight-socket box with doubled-up capacities. The T5-8 maxxes out at 128 cores, 1,024 threads, and 4TB of memory, which would have been a refrigerator-sized big-iron box only a few years ago. The machine has the same disk slot, network port, and PCI-Express slot count as the T5-4 because the base of the box hasn't changed.

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