ORACLE HAS ANNOUNCED its eighth-generation Sparc platform which it claims will improve both performance and security for high-end, business-critical workloads.
The platform is powered by the firm's Sparc M8 microprocessor and Oracle claims that the platform will deliver encryption and hashing two times faster than Intel's x86 platform, as well as twice as fast as its previous Sparc M7 CPUs.
Oracle claims that Sparc M8's design also provides always-on security by default and built-in protection of in-memory data structures from hacks and programming errors.
It is also engineered to run the Oracle database faster than any other microprocessor, according to Oracle, and the company claims that it will run online transaction processing (OLTP) twice as fast as x86 and 1.4 times faster than the Sparc M7.
It offers similar upgrades in performance running Java, according to Oracle, but the biggest performance leap is in in-memory analytics, with Oracle claiming a seven-times improvement in queries-per-minute over x86 for database analytics.
"Oracle has long been a pioneer in engineering software and hardware together to secure high-performance infrastructure for any workload of any size," said Edward Screven, chief corporate architect at Oracle.
"Sparc was already the fastest, most secure processor in the world for running Oracle Database and Java. Sparc M8 extends that lead even further."
However, the launch comes in the same month that the company laid off more than 1,000 staff, predominantly among the workforce working on Sparc and the Solaris Unix operating system. That move has capped a generally consistent downward trend for Sparc and the Solaris under Oracle's administration.
Analysts attribute the decline of Oracle's hardware division to a number of factors, including Oracle's decision to pare down the range and focusing on engineered systems, tuned for specific workloads, as well as the continued dominance of Linux as the operating system of choice for enterprise applications and the data centre, and Intel's x86 architecture.
Sun had been on the decline for the best part of a decade - its hardware were the servers of choice during the first dot-com boom, which came to an abrupt end in 2000 - before it was acquired by Oracle.
Oracle acquired Sparc and Solaris in 2009 for $5.6bn, a sum that compared poorly to its market capitalisation of around $150bn in 2000.
The fall in Sparc/Solaris sales has coincided with a levelling off of Oracle's revenue growth, with the company's $37.7bn revenues in fiscal 2017 only 0.61 per cent higher than it was five years ago in fiscal 2012.
Hardware has become much less important as the server market consolidates around the Intel x86 architecture and either Windows or Linux operating systems, while cloud computing also looms large. µ
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