No Sign of HPC on Sun-Oracle Roadmap

By Michael Feldman

January 28, 2010

After nine months of thrashing, Oracle finally completed the acquisition of Sun Microsystems. As expected, the EU approval of the deal last week cleared the way for the formal merger of the two computer industry behemoths in what is being described as the biggest IT deal of the 21st century.

Unfortunately for high performance computing lovers everywhere, there was nary a mention of HPC in Oracle’s merger party on Wednesday. The five-hour event, which was intended to provide an outline of the new company’s roadmap, mostly focused on Oracle’s infatuation with using Sun hardware to provide “complete business systems” and thus being able to compete with other vertically-integrated systems from the likes of IBM and HP. And while nothing was explicitly said to indicate Sun’s HPC customers would be ditched, Oracle’s focus right now is obviously on business computing, not scientific computing.

Specifically, Ellison and company plan to leverage well-known Sun technology like Java, Solaris, Sun servers, SPARC chips, ZFS storage, StorageTek tape systems, and Sun flash memory to build high-value enterprise systems and appliances. The Sun Oracle Database Machine, which combines Sun hardware (flash memory, servers, disk storage, and InfiniBand) and Oracle software, is the model they want to use to build a whole product portfolio of Oracle-branded business machines. In fact, the plan right now is to increase investments in these core Sun technologies to accelerate this strategy.

So what’s to be left behind? Not much, it seems. At the business level, Oracle wants to change the sales model so that it is selling directly to its top customers, rather than using the Sun partner model. Hardware-wise, it intends to back out of the low-end x86 server market. (According to Oracle president Charles Phillips, they’re going to leave that business to companies like Dell). And while Oracle will probably cut 1,000 employees or so, the initial plan is to hire another 2,000 new engineers and sales people to support the new roadmap.

A hint of what may be in store for the HPC business came from John Fowler, who was formerly the executive vice president of Sun’s systems group and is now the executive vice president of hardware engineering for Oracle. Like the other speakers at the event, Fowler reiterated the push to integrate Sun’s server, storage and network technology with Oracle’s enterprise software. At one point though, without mentioning names, he remarked they would “focus the product set,” rather than compete in every possible application area. You can read into that what you will.

Fowler also presented a roadmap, of sorts, for the SPARC chips. Both the UltraSPARC T series and SPARC64 series chips are in line for upgrades. According to Fowler, an UltraSPARC T3 is scheduled to be released later this year, with double the cores, bigger cache, and faster memory compared to its T2 predecessor. In addition, a new SPARC64 is slated to appear in the next 12-15 months. However, both chip’s lines are being groomed for enterprise duty: CRM, database, OLTP, and so on. Although HPC’ers have dabbled with SPARC servers from time to time, it’s difficult to imagine Oracle putting much effort into SPARC-based machines aimed at the high performance computing market.

It looks like Oracle will keep the Lustre file system software, at least for the time being. But there wasn’t much talk about it at the event. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Lustre effort spun off to someone else if the company can’t find a way to leverage it in its business products.

In fact, it’s difficult to imagine an Oracle regime making a strong commitment to HPC in the near term. Certainly, if big customers want to upgrade their supers with Sun gear, Oracle will be glad to close those deals, as long as it can turn a profit. But in general, selling HPC servers is not the kind of high-margin business Oracle is used to and wants to continue. And right now, there’s no example of a public company that appears to be generating consistent profits from just selling HPC systems. (IBM, HP and Dell may be profitable as a whole, but don’t split out HPC revenue and profit numbers.)

If Oracle decides to make a push into HPC, I think that’s going to be down the road, after it’s matured its business portfolio a bit. If they prove me wrong tomorrow, so be it. But for now, color me skeptical.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Silicon Startup Raises ‘Prodigy’ for Hyperscale/AI Workloads

May 23, 2018

There's another silicon startup coming onto the HPC/hyperscale scene with some intriguing and bold claims. Silicon Valley-based Tachyum Inc., which has been emerging from stealth over the last year and a half, is unveili Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Scientists Conduct First Quantum Simulation of Atomic Nucleus

May 23, 2018

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., May 23, 2018—Scientists at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory are the first to successfully simulate an atomic nucleus using a quantum computer. The results, published in Ph Read more…

By Rachel Harken, ORNL

Pattern Computer – Startup Claims Breakthrough in ‘Pattern Discovery’ Technology

May 23, 2018

If it weren’t for the heavy-hitter technology team behind start-up Pattern Computer, which emerged from stealth today in a live-streamed event from San Francisco, one would be tempted to dismiss its claims of inventing Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

HPC and AI Convergence is Accelerating New Levels of Intelligence

Data analytics is the most valuable tool in the digital marketplace – so much so that organizations are employing high performance computing (HPC) capabilities to rapidly collect, share, and analyze endless streams of data. Read more…

IBM Accelerated Insights

Mastering the Big Data Challenge in Cognitive Healthcare

Patrick Chain, genomics researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory, posed a question in a recent blog: What if a nurse could swipe a patient’s saliva and run a quick genetic test to determine if the patient’s sore throat was caused by a cold virus or a bacterial infection? Read more…

First Xeon-FPGA Integration Launched by Intel

May 22, 2018

Ever since Intel’s acquisition of FPGA specialist Altera in 2015 for $16.7 billion, it’s been widely acknowledged that some day, Intel would release a processor that integrates its mainstream Xeon CPU server chip wit Read more…

By Doug Black

Silicon Startup Raises ‘Prodigy’ for Hyperscale/AI Workloads

May 23, 2018

There's another silicon startup coming onto the HPC/hyperscale scene with some intriguing and bold claims. Silicon Valley-based Tachyum Inc., which has been eme Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Pattern Computer – Startup Claims Breakthrough in ‘Pattern Discovery’ Technology

May 23, 2018

If it weren’t for the heavy-hitter technology team behind start-up Pattern Computer, which emerged from stealth today in a live-streamed event from San Franci Read more…

By John Russell

Japan Meteorological Agency Takes Delivery of Pair of Crays

May 21, 2018

Cray has supplied two identical Cray XC50 supercomputers to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) in northwestern Tokyo. Boasting more than 18 petaflops combine Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

ASC18: Final Results Revealed & Wrapped Up

May 17, 2018

It was an exciting week at ASC18 in Nanyang, China. The student teams braved extreme heat, extremely difficult applications, and extreme competition in order to cross the cluster competition finish line. The gala awards ceremony took place on Wednesday. The auditorium was packed with student teams, various dignitaries, the media, and other interested parties. So what happened? Read more…

By Dan Olds

Spring Meetings Underscore Quantum Computing’s Rise

May 17, 2018

The month of April 2018 saw four very important and interesting meetings to discuss the state of quantum computing technologies, their potential impacts, and th Read more…

By Alex R. Larzelere

Quantum Network Hub Opens in Japan

May 17, 2018

Following on the launch of its Q Commercial quantum network last December with 12 industrial and academic partners, the official Japanese hub at Keio University is now open to facilitate the exploration of quantum applications important to science and business. The news comes a week after IBM announced that North Carolina State University was the first U.S. university to join its Q Network. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Democratizing HPC: OSC Releases Version 1.3 of OnDemand

May 16, 2018

Making HPC resources readily available and easier to use for scientists who may have less HPC expertise is an ongoing challenge. Open OnDemand is a project by t Read more…

By John Russell

PRACE 2017 Annual Report: Exascale Aspirations; Industry Collaboration; HPC Training

May 15, 2018

The Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe (PRACE) today released its annual report showcasing 2017 activities and providing a glimpse into thinking about Read more…

By John Russell

MLPerf – Will New Machine Learning Benchmark Help Propel AI Forward?

May 2, 2018

Let the AI benchmarking wars begin. Today, a diverse group from academia and industry – Google, Baidu, Intel, AMD, Harvard, and Stanford among them – releas Read more…

By John Russell

How the Cloud Is Falling Short for HPC

March 15, 2018

The last couple of years have seen cloud computing gradually build some legitimacy within the HPC world, but still the HPC industry lies far behind enterprise I Read more…

By Chris Downing

Russian Nuclear Engineers Caught Cryptomining on Lab Supercomputer

February 12, 2018

Nuclear scientists working at the All-Russian Research Institute of Experimental Physics (RFNC-VNIIEF) have been arrested for using lab supercomputing resources to mine crypto-currency, according to a report in Russia’s Interfax News Agency. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Deep Learning at 15 PFlops Enables Training for Extreme Weather Identification at Scale

March 19, 2018

Petaflop per second deep learning training performance on the NERSC (National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center) Cori supercomputer has given climate Read more…

By Rob Farber

AI Cloud Competition Heats Up: Google’s TPUs, Amazon Building AI Chip

February 12, 2018

Competition in the white hot AI (and public cloud) market pits Google against Amazon this week, with Google offering AI hardware on its cloud platform intended Read more…

By Doug Black

US Plans $1.8 Billion Spend on DOE Exascale Supercomputing

April 11, 2018

On Monday, the United States Department of Energy announced its intention to procure up to three exascale supercomputers at a cost of up to $1.8 billion with th Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

HPC and AI – Two Communities Same Future

January 25, 2018

According to Al Gara (Intel Fellow, Data Center Group), high performance computing and artificial intelligence will increasingly intertwine as we transition to Read more…

By Rob Farber

Leading Solution Providers

Lenovo Unveils Warm Water Cooled ThinkSystem SD650 in Rampup to LRZ Install

February 22, 2018

This week Lenovo took the wraps off the ThinkSystem SD650 high-density server with third-generation direct water cooling technology developed in tandem with par Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Google Chases Quantum Supremacy with 72-Qubit Processor

March 7, 2018

Google pulled ahead of the pack this week in the race toward "quantum supremacy," with the introduction of a new 72-qubit quantum processor called Bristlecone. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

CFO Steps down in Executive Shuffle at Supermicro

January 31, 2018

Supermicro yesterday announced senior management shuffling including prominent departures, the completion of an audit linked to its delayed Nasdaq filings, and Read more…

By John Russell

HPE Wins $57 Million DoD Supercomputing Contract

February 20, 2018

Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) today revealed details of its massive $57 million HPC contract with the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD). The deal calls for HP Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Deep Learning Portends ‘Sea Change’ for Oil and Gas Sector

February 1, 2018

The billowing compute and data demands that spurred the oil and gas industry to be the largest commercial users of high-performance computing are now propelling Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia Ups Hardware Game with 16-GPU DGX-2 Server and 18-Port NVSwitch

March 27, 2018

Nvidia unveiled a raft of new products from its annual technology conference in San Jose today, and despite not offering up a new chip architecture, there were still a few surprises in store for HPC hardware aficionados. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Hennessy & Patterson: A New Golden Age for Computer Architecture

April 17, 2018

On Monday June 4, 2018, 2017 A.M. Turing Award Winners John L. Hennessy and David A. Patterson will deliver the Turing Lecture at the 45th International Sympo Read more…

By Staff

Part One: Deep Dive into 2018 Trends in Life Sciences HPC

March 1, 2018

Life sciences is an interesting lens through which to see HPC. It is perhaps not an obvious choice, given life sciences’ relative newness as a heavy user of H Read more…

By John Russell

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This