Oracle Sun Sparc T5, M5 servers hit shelves

Oracle execs say the new Sparc T5 and M5 servers are focused on competing with IBM Power, but an analyst says they're mostly for the existing install base.

Oracle refreshed its Sun SPARC servers today for the first time in a couple years, with one analyst saying the new boxes are mostly for existing customers.

The SPARC servers are based on the new SPARC T5 and M5 processors, which Oracle unveiled earlier this year. The machines range from the single-socket SPARC T5-1B blade all the way to the SPARC M5-32, which as the name implies has 32 sockets.

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"Customers already on SPARC boxes will be looking forward to those systems," said Frank Scavo, a managing partner at Strativa and an industry analyst. "I think it's largely a play for Sun's install base."

Though the RISC- and Itanium-based server market is still a multibillion dollar industry, revenue has declined sharply. Numbers from Gartner at the end of last month indicated that RISC/Itanium revenue dropped almost 32% in the last quarter of 2012 compared to the same quarter in 2011. In addition, Oracle's server revenue market share went from 5.3% in the fourth quarter of 2011 to 4.1% in the fourth quarter of 2012, losing out to other big players such as IBM.

Oracle hopes the SPARC refresh will help boost its numbers, and said as much in its recent earnings call, adding that they thought many SPARC customers were delaying their server upgrade until the new T5 and M5 servers were available, which is common.

Here are the specs on the servers:

  • The T5-1B blade has one 16-core, 3.6 GHz SPARC T5 processor with up to 256 GB of RAM.
  • The T5-2 is a 3U rack server with two T5 chips and up to 512 GB of RAM.
  • The T5-4 is a 5U rack server with four T5 chips and up to 2 TB of RAM.
  • The T5-8 is an 8U rack server with eight T5 chips and up to 4TB of RAM.
  • The M5-32 is a full rack with 32 6-core, 3.6 GHz SPARC M5 processors with up to 32 TB of RAM. Oracle said this server will be focused for back-end database and big ERP systems.

Oracle did not provide list prices, but in its benchmark results it appears the T5-8 list price will be about $270,000 and the M5-32 list price will be about $1 million. The T5-8, according to the benchmark results documentation, will be available in September.

Marshall Choy, Oracle director of systems solutions and business planning, said the new SPARC servers will be "very singularly focused on IBM as the main competitor."

"The previously introduced T4-based systems are entry-level (to SPARC)," Choy said. "The T5 are positioned as midrange and M5 is at the high-end."

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