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Summary:

Coming off of last month’s announcement at Structure of a new customizable chip loaded with a FPGA, Intel has shipped off a version of its Xeon E7 x2 processor that links together Oracle’s software to its hardware.

Intel said on Thursday that it has created a customized version of its Xeon E7 x2 processor that is tailored to work with Oracle software. The new chip will supposedly allow for better performing Oracle applications that can handle more tasks than they could previously handle.

Essentially, Oracle’s new Exadata Database Machine X4-8, used for data warehousing and resource-heavy tasks like online transaction processing (OLTP) and in-memory workloads, is powered by the new Intel customizable silicon. Using the new processor, the Oracle machines can now be controlled via software to make changes on the fly to better allocate resources when necessary.

The news highlights two recent developments by both Oracle and Intel in recent months. Last month at Structure, Diane Bryant, senior vice president and general manager of Intel’s data center group, explained how Intel developed a customizable chip that links together a Xeon processor and a field-programmable gate array (FPGA). Using the FPGA in conjunction with the processor supposedly results in a much more efficient chip that can be used for complex tasks like translating search algorithms and compressing genetic data, Bryant said.

Last month also saw Oracle announcing its In Memory Option software to be used as an add-on to the company’s database lineup for enhanced real-time analytics and transactional workloads.

Today’s announcement shows the advent of more specialized chips needed for more specialized workloads. With Intel wanting to ensure that its chip making skills are still a big business while not losing workloads to OEMS or Arm (or even the cloud), it’s betting there’s money to be had in customizing chips for specific types of jobs.

  1. This is horrible philosophy…trying to marry hardware and software into a unholy nexus. If you buy it please be prepared to incur significant opex cost in the form of thousands of man hour spent for patching, skillets up gradation of both DBA and sysadmins and complete vendor lock in. The performance improvements pales in comparision to the pain it causes.

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  2. Rajesh Menon Friday, July 18, 2014

    If you marry hardware with software, there can be fragmentation. Soon we will have chips supporting MySQl, MongoDB etc. This will really cause a lot of confusion. But if the speed gains are worth it, then it may be a thing to try. However I still feel that hardware should be generic.

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  3. Terrible article!!! Two completely different things:
    - a New Xeon E7 chip with variable speed depending on the amount of cores used, which is used by Oracle Exadata
    - a New hybrid chip with E7 cores and FPGAs which have potential but has not been used on Oracle products…

    The article is misleading and provides the idea that the FPGA is the innovation that is being used by Oracle.

    Also the title… “Intel creates custom silicon that works with Oracle software”… All of Intel Xeon processors works with Oracle… this one, MIGHT, work differently, better, but all of them work…

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    1. Jonathan Vanian Friday, July 18, 2014

      Thanks for the comment Alex. I was in no way insinuating the two were the same thing. Just pointing out how the announcement of the new chip ties back in with what went on last month.

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