Intel makes custom Xeons for Oracle

Last year, Intel started offering custom chip designs to major firms like Facebook and eBay, giant firms that build their own servers rather than purchase from big name server vendors like HP and Dell.

Those vendors all build server for their own use. Oracle, on the other hand, is getting custom processors to sell to customers. In an interview with DatacenterDynamics, Intel explained that Oracle had the idea of building a processor whose performance profiles could be changed on demand based on workload.

Intel's new Xeon E7-8895 v2 processor is pretty much identical to the top-of-the-line E7-8890 v2, except it has the ability to put its cores into ultra-low power states and then bring them back up as needed, according to Intel.

Intel introduced the 8890 v2 model this past February. It is the absolute top of the Xeon line, the only one with RAS capabilities and other high-end functions found in the Itanium and other RISC processors. The 8890 has 15 cores running at 2.8 GHz and more importantly, a massive 37.5 MB of cache per core for high performance analytics or in-memory databases. You don't use the 8x00 line for hosting a LAMP server or in a storage server, it's for mission-critical, high transaction servers that can never go down.

There are two other chips in that line, the E7-8891 v2 with 10 cores running at 3.2 GHz and the E7-8893 with 6 cores running at 3.4 GHz. That's typical of all processors; with fewer cores it can run at a greater clock speed.

With the 8895, Intel allowed the processor to act like an 8890, 8891 or 8893 while in operation and without having to shut down and restart. Intel already does something similar with its consumer Core processors called Turbo Boost. If a dual core, 3.0GHz processor is running a single-threaded app, it will shut down one core and run the other at 3.4Ghz, for example. But this is Turbo Boost taken to an extreme.

The 8895 is used in the Exadata Database Machine X4-8,an 8-processor rack system with up to 12 TB of system memory 672 terabytes of disk, 44 terabytes of high-performance PCI Flash, 240 database CPU cores, and 168 CPU cores in storage to accelerate data-intensive SQL. The server is designed for all kinds of workloads but is especially geared toward OLTP loads.

Intel made it clear that the deal with Oracle was oriented around its database and other business application software. The company balked when DatacenterDynamics asked if it would be open to suggestions from Oracle’s hardware competitors like HP and Dell. Perhaps that's a no-fly zone for Intel.

So, hear that, Microsoft?

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