Mythics Blog

Software in Silicon for the Masses

Posted on July 1, 2016 by Erik Benner

Tags: Mythics Consulting, SPARC, Solaris, Oracle Hardware, S7-2, S7-2L, S& MiniCluster

Software in Silicon for the Masses

Two years ago, Oracle went public with the M7 CPU, a new paradigm in CPU architecture that took core application code into the silicon. When the M7 servers were introduced at Oracle OpenWorld 2015, we were able to see the fruits of their labor, with non-accelerated workloads running 1.7 times faster than the current generation of Intel CPU on a per core basis. Not only was this a welcomed performance boost for the SPARC user base, but application specific workloads, like end to end encryption, database experienced huge performance gains when compared to both Intel and IBM processors.



The business advantages are even more pronounced when you add in the silicon based security feature called Silicon Secured memory, which protects against coding errors that allow unauthorized memory access and the enhanced memory management. This improves security inside the CPU, protecting against Malware and software defects which would otherwise allow unauthorized access to memory segments.


The biggest challenge many organizations faced with adopting the new CPU was the high entry point per server. Not all organizations needed the 32core entry point. This has been solved with the Sonoma CPU, which is a smaller version of the M7 processor with several advantages. Oracle took all of the advantages of the M7 and shrunk it by 1/4 before adding in a few new features.  (Sonoma POC here) The first advantage seen by many is the lower power consumption of the new processor, this reduces the environmental impact of the new systems. We also see much of the motherboard logic being integrated into the CPU, not only does this improve performance, but it also reduces the manufacturing price of the processor, reducing the expense of the servers to clients. InfiniBand also was added to the chip, allowing super computer networking speeds directly on the CPU. This InfiniBand performance advantages huge for database clustering technologies like RAC and the upcoming database sharding technology.


Three new systems were announced the S7-2, S7-2L and the S7 MiniCluster


The S7-2 is the low cost leader, with a price performance exceeding Intel workloads for bandwidth intensive workloads like Database, Business Intelligence and dense virtualized environments. The server gives user the choice of one or two S7 processors. Included is three PCIe 3.0 x8 slots, four 10GBase-T Ethernet ports and Oracle’s integrated lights out management (ILOM)  ports. As with Oracle’s x86 servers, there is no additional license expense for the advanced features of the technology, saving clients hundreds of dollars per server when compared to similar management technologies. This combination allows for a sever with 8 of the silicon accelerated cores and 64G of  RAM to sell for under $11,000. With per core speeds vs. Intel servers over 4x on many workloads.



The second server is the S7-2L. Like the S7-2, it’s price/performance numbers exceeding Intel workloads for bandwidth intensive workloads like Database, Business Intelligence and dense virtualized environments. The server comes standard with two of the S7 processors. It also doubles the I/O capabilities of the S7-2 with six  PCIe 3.0 x8 slots, and of course includes four 10GBase-T Ethernet ports and Oracle’s integrated lights out management (ILOM)  port. The major difference is the L model allows for significantly more disk drives, with up to twenty-seven drives in the server. The price is the really impressive number, with a S7-2L with 128G of ram, and 24 600G high speed drives coming in under $20,000!


The third system, is Oracle’s latest Engineered System, the MiniCluster S7-2. This enables all the advantages of Engineered Systems with Enterprise grade security. Simplified management, out-of-the-box performance, integrated reliability, and a small form factor make it an excellent choice for remote offices,  isolated workloads and small offices. When running Oracle workloads, you can reduce the software expenses using sub capacity software licensing, with hardware accelerated virtualization.  As your workload grows, the MiniCluster includes a simple configuration tool,  making it possible to add more processors to your system in minutes. Database workloads run faster, not only due to the silicon accelerated features in the CPU,  but also faster I/O speeds due to the all-flash storage. You can also easily comply with PCI-DSS or CIS security standards with the push of a button.


All of these new systems run Solaris. With Solaris you gain several advantages over Linux, including both a hardware acceleration virtualization technology call LDOMs, and a software container that has been around for over a decade call zones. Security also improves, with more options based on the role based access control, integrated compliance reporting, enterprise level automation integrated into the core operating system and more. Best of all, Linux admins can quickly come up to speed on Solaris, as many commands are identical or similar.

If you want to learn more about how your origination can reduce operation expenses while at the same time improving security, please reach out to your Mythics sales rep to schedule a deep dive into the technology.

Erik Benner, Enterprise Architect, Mythics Inc.


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