Oracle, Intel team on server with a dimmer switch
Big Red looks to be in custom Xeons for the long haul
Oracle looks like it's committed to custom Xeons for the long haul.
Big Red last year teamed with Chipzilla on the E7-8895 v2, a CPU that improved on the top-of-the-line E7-8890 by adding features that let the silicon switch cores on and off as required by Oracle's operating systems and software. The chips can also vary their clock speed, a trick Intel uses widely.
Oracle's now revealed that the pair have done it again. This time the Xeon is the E7-8895 v3, which hums along at up to 2.6GHz – 100MHz faster than the E7-8890 v3 the rest of us can buy - and offers 18 cores and 36 threads. The server is the X5-4, a four-socket, 3U affair with six 2.5” disk bays . There's also 96 DIMM slots for potential RAM size of 3TB and NVMe to get it fast and flashy, making it a handy option for in-memory workloads.
Once again, Oracle's talking up in-silicon elasticity, pointing out that the new servers can “vary the core count and operating frequency … without the need for a system level reboot.”
Intel doesn't do this stuff on a whim, or for chump change. So clearly this kind of system and this kind of feature are significant enough for Oracle to hand over a fair bit of the folding stuff. Which shouldn't surprise: Oracle's Sun-derived hardware heritage was all about mutual optimisation between silicon and the operating system. Intel's custom Xeon program means Snoracle can keep pursuing its preferred arrangements, and can also claim to have the fastest known 18-core Xeons.
We say known because who knows what other cuts are out there in the hands of users that don't, like Oracle, want the world to know what they're using?
Full details of the server can be found here. ®