back to article Intel teaches Oracle how to become the latest and greatest Xeon Whisperer

Intel has gone through its fabs and found the greatest possible Xeons, tweaked its firmware, and sold 'em off to Oracle. The two companies announced on Thursday that they had partnered to work on a Xeon chip whose cores can be turned on or off and clock rate manipulated by Oracle's software. The Xeon E7-8895 v2 SKU was …

  1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Alien

    Ideal for the new SPARC V7 CPU's then?

    Just load some different microcode and charge the failthful (like church goers, dwindling) several arms and legs for the priv of using them.

  2. foxyshadis

    Smells like copy-protections

    Am I the only one who thinks Oracle is going to use this to enable or disable cores depending on what you pay? They'll probably drop you down to one core if you get a bit behind on your licensing, as well....

    1. John Riddoch

      Re: Smells like copy-protections

      Is paying per core really such a bad thing? It opens up a good capacity on demand model which will suit some customers down to the ground. If you want all the capacity, you just pay for it.

      As for shutting off cores when behind on licensing, that would require them to have privileged access on the system in question. If you trust your vendors with that, you probably should keep up to date on your license fees/support costs!

      Being less paranoid, it seems to be all about being able to squeeze higher clock speeds out of the chips dynamically for single threaded workloads. Given that clock speeds on Intel have stuck at about 2.5GHz-3.5GHz for several years, anything which can push that single threaded workload through faster has to be a good thing for end users.

      1. M. B.

        Re: Smells like copy-protections

        I think there are some advantages to the per-core billing model.

        I worked for a company that used the Oracle Database Appliance to drive a RAC cluster. It was pretty simple for me to take a look in my storage management tool and server monitoring tool to turn around and tell Oracle exactly what size and amount of disk I/O and CPU/RAM utilization we were driving.

        Their proposal had us running Oracle VM on the ODA hosts and running the RAC nodes as VMs on the hosts (which is fully supported and gets around their restrictive virtualization licensing). It ended up being a significant savings for the company and upgrades were dead simple (just add resources to the VMs as needed). Since Oracle provides Oracle VM appliances for many of their applications, provisioning new applications was a snap.

        YMMV of course. Worked well for that company though.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Alien

          Re: Smells like copy-protections

          If I buylicense software, I pay the software company for the SOFTWARE.

          If I get more cores, then I pay the hardware company for the CORES.

          The SOFTWARE company asking me to pay more for actually using the CORES, which they didn't develop or otherwise had a hand in bringing to market should immediately result in management of said company being run out of town on rails, possibly chased by antitrust regulators.

          ... manager of Intel's Data Center Group Diane Bryant said in a canned quote.

          Any relation with Matt?

          1. P. Lee

            Re: Smells like copy-protections

            Have an upvote.

            I despise software houses who want to own and control your hardware too. The last thing we need is to get further into the position where application software counteracts hardware advances by switching off cores and down-clocking the CPU. I know it could be useful, but I've seen humanity at work.

            Yes, I hate "appliances." Market segmentation on the flimsiest pretense.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh, the joys of mainframe style billing

    This is Oracle, the company that wants to become the IBM, not the current IBM but the one that was floating in cash in the mainframe days.

    Oracle's wet dreams are like these: an Oracle owned Data Centre full of metered machines with customers paying for the minute on each Ghz and core being used. And possible paying for each transaction executed with their software. If you're thinking "impossible" when reading this, just remember how things were -and they are still- sold in the mainframe days. Gone will be the days where you purchased a machine, some software and did whatever you wanted to do with it.

    The beauty of such an arrangement is that you can have a dashboard with a dial labelled "Profit" and nothing more.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    POST with 12TB?

    Can you imagine how long the POST would take if it did a memory check at boot? I pull my hair out waiting for my Dell servers to check 256GB on reboot (or I just abort it). 12TB? Gotta be hours and hours to run that.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: POST with 12TB?

      FYI,

      POST memory test is performed only if Quick Boot is not enabled from the Boot Settings Configuration screen. Enabling Quick Boot causes the BIOS to skip the memory test. This option is enabled by default.

  5. Nate Amsden Silver badge

    who cares about power?

    With the cost of these systems(both hardware and software) the cost to power them has got to be a rounding error by comparison in most data centers anyway.

    The consolidation factor alone should pay for power costs probably 10x over.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They can't already do this?

    Sort of surprised that the Windows/linux kernel scheduler didn't already have the ability to turn cores on and off and control clock speeds. If not, wouldn't Intel be better off talking to the boys at Microsoft and linux, rather than Oracle? You know... so that every app has the ability to request/specify core allocations, rather than a single big commercial database vendor?

  7. John Savard

    Interesting

    Oracle was the company that was sued by HP to get it to continue supporting the Itanium.

    Also, Oracle bought Sun; my take on that acquisition is that it was done primarily so that Oracle could get its hands on the Sun SPARC architecture, so that as a database vendor it could compete head-to-head with IBM. This happened just before Intel made the RAS features offered with the Itanium also available on some Xeon x86 chips.

    Given all of this, I'm somewhat surprised that Oracle and Intel have this cozy a relationship.

    Given that green computing is popular now, the ability to turn off cores just to save power when they're not being used - database systems can have variable loads depending on the business they serve - is relevant in any case. Since IBM does charge by usage on some of its hardware, though, it's definitely not impossible that Oracle is also seeking similar capabilities.

    But I don't think one has to worry too much about Oracle using it to gouge customers, since cheap commodity x86 gear is so easily available.

  8. Joe Greer

    this sounds like something VMware would want...

    This makes more sense in the data center with server load or VDI load. VMware licenses the product by socket, so it would not cost any more or less, just that you could change the configuration based on needs. Neat idea, not sure I would pay any extra for it.

    1. P. Lee

      Re: this sounds like something VMware would want...

      Surely if you have a 15-core box and you are switching off cores, then you're doing virtualisation wrong.

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