As the SPARC processor marks 25 years of existence, Ron Goh, Oracle's vice president, ASEAN System Sales,
describes its impact on the industry and the roadmap ahead.
SPARC processor completed 25 years of existence this year. What do you think is the impact of the SPARC technology on the IT industry?
More than two decades ago, SPARC and Oracle Solaris combined to give birth to an enterprise computing system that offered better performance, availability, and scalability than anything the competition had to offer. SPARC successfully challenged the dominance of mainframes by delivering performance that was orders of magnitude ahead of the competing platforms. Throughout its history, SPARC processor-based systems have played a role in delivering IT-led growth of many industries like telecommunications, government, healthcare and financial services. For a number of years, the SPARC platform has been the industry standard for running mission-critical applications. The impact of SPARC on the industry was captured succinctly in a tag line of ours - if it has to run, it has to be on SPARC.
The combination of SPARC with Oracle Solaris was also a bold step in complete integration of software and hardware that is the distinguishing feature of Oracle's strategy. Today, full-stack integration is an essential part of any SPARC system, and these are the industry's most reliable, scalable, and secure systems for mission-critical enterprise applications and cloud.
The platform has continued to evolve ever since and successive generations have continued to provide superior performance for enterprise customers along with reliability, availability, and scalability-the "holy trinity" of RAS. Oracle is now driving the innovation with a $5 billion a year spending on research and development. With a long history of recorded-breaking performance, SPARC-based systems have achieved over 400 record benchmarks, with 20 of them currently standing.
How has the SPARC technology grown under Oracle's leadership?
Oracle acquired Sun in 2010, and since that time, Oracle's hardware and software engineers have worked side-by-side to build fully integrated systems and optimised solutions, which are designed to achieve performance levels that are unmatched in the industry. After the acquisition, Oracle has been committed to deliver new SPARC processors and server hardware every 12 to 18 months. I am happy to say that to date, Oracle has delivered more than what we had promised on the SPARC and Oracle Solaris roadmap. The time to major SPARC delivery milestones has gotten shorter, and with the release of the SPARC T4 processor, Oracle is delivering better-than-promised performance.
We are consistently delivering innovations, for example we have put software and compression technology directly onto the silicon chip. Back in 2002, we recognised scalability as a key target and decided to focus on threading to achieve that. Now, SPARC chips are available with 1,000 threads, and Oracle Solaris has been engineered to maximise performance on systems with huge amounts of CPU, memory, and bandwidth resources. It can effortlessly handle the provisioning, management, and security challenges of cloud environments.
Can you outline why customers are continuing to invest in the SPARC platform for all these years?
Oracle SPARC servers running Oracle Solaris continue to deliver world-record performance for a wide range of enterprise applications. Customers have complete faith in SPARC servers and they consider these servers ideal for mission-critical applications that require high performance, best-in-class availability, unmatched scalability and unparallelled reliability. Above all, SPARC systems have always delivered this performance at a fraction of mainframe costs.
SPARC also is the only platform available today that includes on-chip encryption and the Oracle Solaris security framework. Further, it offers a complete integration with Oracle database, business application, and middleware software, and Oracle Optimized Solutions. For the customers, it means tremendous business value through improved system utilisation and built-in comprehensive, zero-cost virtualisation capabilities.
What is the future roadmap for SPARC in terms of technology and features?
Oracle announced a new SPARC roadmap in 2010 and over a five-year period, this roadmap calls for improvement of four times the cores, 32 times the threads, 16 times the memory capacity, 40 times the database transactions, and 10 times the Java operations per second.
Future Oracle Solaris updates in 2013, 2014, and 2015 will track with SPARC innovation and will provide higher availability, increased memory, improved virtualisation, enhanced system management, greater I/O capacity, and improved scalability. We believe this is great news for companies that are counting on the future of SPARC and Oracle Solaris to run highly available business applications in virtual environments.
The roadmap also projects significant improvements every two years, and also illustrates Oracle's assurance to maintain SPARC/Oracle Solaris binary compatibility with the hundreds of thousands of deployments over more than two decades.
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