"If you're going to run just the Oracle 11 database, Exadata is definitely the product for you. ... But if you want to run PeopleSoft or SAP or homegrown applications in the same cluster, you could do that with the SuperCluster but not with [the Exadata Database machine]," he said. "That's the simplest way to define the difference."
Ellison claimed a full Sparc SuperCluster rack can outperform IBM's high-end Power 795 server "by a long shot." IBM declined to comment on any of his claims Monday. The SuperCluster has storage bandwidth of 42 GB/sec and can perform 1.2 million input/output operations per second, Ellison said.
"Oracle is throwing a lot of performance-oriented red meat to their installed base of loyal Sparc and Solaris customers," said industry analyst Dan Olds of Gabriel Consulting. "They touted a lot of benchmarks and comparisons to both IBM and x86 commodity servers. But it remains to be seen if this is enough to convince new customers to start buying Sparc hardware again."
The SuperCluster aims to give an easy upgrade path from existing Sparc systems. It will be offered with Oracle's new Solaris 11 OS, but customers can run Solaris 10 if they prefer, Fowler said. Solaris 11 includes enhancements that will better be able to handle higher thread-counts and faster I/O bandwidth, however.
When Oracle first acquired Sun, many questioned its commitment to the Sparc platform. But Ellison has made it a cornerstone of Oracle's strategy, building pricey but powerful machines that combine Sun and Oracle technologies.
The company has a Sparc 5 processor on its road map. Fowler wouldn't say much about that chip Monday, except that Oracle is ahead of schedule with its development.
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