Introduction to SPARC M7 and Application Data Integrity (ADI)

M7 chip
Oracle just announced its Next Generation Processor, M7, at the HotChips HC26 conference. This has 32 cores (most in the industry, up from 16-cores in T5 and 12-cores in M6). With 20 nm technology on a 4th generation CMT chip, this is our most advanced processor. After the Sun acquisition Oracle has released 5 processors in 4 years and this is the 6th. 
Some salient points:
  • 32 SPARC 4th generation cores, each dynamically threaded with 1-8 Threads/core
  • New Cache organization with shared L2 data and instruction cache and 64MB L3 cache
  • DDR4 DRAM with unto 2TB memory per processor and 2x-3x bandwidth over T5/M6
  • PCIe Gen3 Support
  • Application Acceleration (more on this later, popularly called "Software in Silicon")
  • SMP Scalability from 1-32 Processors

The S4 core

The S4 core
The S4 core is an innovative design, featuring:
  • Dynamically threaded, 1-8 Threads/core
  • Increased Frequency without change of Pipeline Depth
  • Dual-issue, Out of Order Execution Core with Cryptographic Performance Improvements
  • Fine-grain Power Estimator
  • Live Migration Performance Improvements
  • Core Recovery
  • Application Acceleration Support

We believe these features make it a perfectly balanced engine for single-thread performance as well as achieving high degree of parallelism. Indeed, with 32 processors, each with 32 cores, the highest end machine might sport a daunting 8192 virtual cpus and some highly impossible-sounding memory, storage and throughput characteristics.

Software in Silicon

The past few years have shown that much of the improvements in manufacturing are primarily being utilized to improve the number of cores on the chip, and thus throughput, more than raw single-threaded performance. One differentiator in this approach to improving application performance is providing specific accelerators that help broader platforms. The two most important platforms in the industry today are Database and Java. Oracle has taken this to heart in M7. In a breakthrough in the industry, this is the first chip that has designed-in Application Accelerators for popular Software(in particular, DB and Java) embedded into the chip.
The following features are supported in hardware now:
  • Application Data Integrity
  • Concurrent Fine-grained Memory Migration
  • Virtual Address (VA) Masking
  • Database In-Memory Query Accelerator

Realtime Application Data Integrity

We have seen security hacks everywhere and valuable resources and data is being compromised on a regular basis through secure servers deployed in enterprises. Whether its Target or Home Depot or several other firms that have suffered similar, malicious attacks, security and data integrity have suddenly become of prime importance.
SPARC M7 has a very interesting feature, called Realtime Application Data Integrity (ADI, for short), that is designed to safeguard against invalid, stale memory reference and buffer overflows. The hardware does this by allowing software to mark software buffers with special versions. Part of the Pointer can be used to store a version number and this version number is also maintained in the memory cache lines. When a pointer accesses memory, the hardware checks to make sure the two versions match. A SEGV signal is raised when there is a mismatch.
This can also be done in Software, but it is very slow (often 100 times slower) as it requires annotating code at every load and store and writing routines to check. By doing these checks in hardware, applications run at near clock speeds, thereby removing a key obstacle of using this in development cycle only. This feature can be used by the Database, user applications that manage memory and the OS.

With this feature, you can: The following use-cases can be controlled by this feature: The Oracle Software in Silicon Cloud is a great resource to get more information on how to use this feature to guard your applications against unwarranted attacks. This portal provides more in-depth information about this feature, demos that show some popular software attacks and how-to cookbook-style information that will help you adapt your software.

Start by registering for the Software in Silicon Developer program.