The server realm requires a ton of computing power, and therefore server CPUs are ripe for both extreme horsepower and focused optimization. Enter Oracle’s Sparc M7. The powerful and innovative M7 debuted at the end of Oct. 2015 at the Oracle OpenWorld Conference, and made quite a stir.
The M7 is graced with more than 10 billion transistors, and delivers a whopping eight execution threads in each core. Did I mention there are 32 CPU cores? That’s 20 more than the measly 12 in the M6, and I know you're counting. Reportedly, it’s the “world’s fastest microprocessor,” according to a press release on the Oracle website. Yet while there are only 32 cores, optimized co-processor functions include "memory de-compression, memory scan, range scan, filtering, and join assist". That’s the rate of 200 CPU cores, or 16 decompression PCI cards.
According to Larry Ellison, the M7 is hacker-proof, thanks to a clever pointer-versioning system -- though an article by The Register’s Chris Williams offered a bit of arithmetical skepticism. (Because the access-controlling "color" stamps are only four bits long, malicious code has a 1:16 chance of randomly using the correct color.) Let’s also remember that the Titanic was called “unsinkable,” and calling a microprocessor “unhackable” seems like a challenge to hackers. Oracle's blog offers sample code with explanatory visualization here.
The two main improvements in the Sparc M7 are performance enhancements and security boosts, which Larry Ellison claims would have combated the Heartbleed bug. A bold statement indeed. Both performance and security boosts derive from software integrated onto the actual M7, a fusion of hardware and software.
While benchmarking might make gamers and HTPC fiends salivate, the Sparc will be used in primarily in cloud, big data, and general database environments. In-memory processing and increased protection mean the M7 is poised to revolutionize server processing performance. It’ll be neat to see benchmarks, as well as learn whether the M7 truly is hacker-proof once it hits the market.