Using enterprise class hardware shows once again that you get what you paid for.
A new issue came up in the last days describing attacks against Dynamic Random Access Memory (DRAM) modules that are already susceptible to Rowhammer-style attacks. At the end of the day these security problems are not microprocessor-specific, they leverage known issues in DRAM memory. These attacks only impact DDR4 and DDR3 memory modules, and older generations DDR2 and DDR1 memory modules are not vulnerable to these attacks.
Oracle published an advisory that reported that older and current servers using its SPARC and x86 CPUs aren’t expected to be susceptible to RAMBleed:
All current and many older families of Oracle x86 (X5, X6, X7, X8, E1) and Oracle SPARC servers (S7, T7, T8, M7, M8) employing DDR4 DIMMs are not expected to be impacted by RAMBleed. This is because Oracle only employs DDR4 DIMMs that have implemented the Target Row Refresh (TRR) defense mechanism against RowHammer. Oracle’s memory suppliers have stated that these implementations have been designed to be effective against RowHammer.
Just to remember once again… 😉
Meltdown@SPARC – NO
Spectre@SPARC – OK – not all variants (HW_BTI & OS fixed)
Foreshadow@SPARC – NO
ZombieLoad@SPARC – NO
RAMBleed@SPARC – OK – very difficult based on TRR DIMMs
Working in an enterprise data center and securing your business critical services might be easier than you thought… work with Solaris on SPARC!
No RISC no fun
A new roadmap is on the web… Solaris 11.5 as Solaris.next and new Sparc M8+ chips are planned for 2020/21…
Good new for the best operating system on the world 😉
[UPDATE – 06/2019]
As you might already recognized the official roadmap disappeared from oracle-web… my last discussion with the SPARC product management was “well, no one else publish a roadmap”… I am not happy with that answer, but as it seems Oralce does not say there will be a M8+ right now. Also the naming scheme for 11.5 is in discussion, again regarding re-certification as an argument, so we might see more 11.4 updates rather a 11.5 release. But they promised again that Solaris will be supported at least until 2034 from today and will be developed to meet all necessary features to be the most stable and secure OS for the next decades.
But even if Oracle will not bring a M8+ chip we still have a public roadmap from our Fujitsu friends who build very nice SPARC systems:
Oracle M8 chip is after 18 months still the fastet processor to handle JAVA workload (see spec.org) and phenomenal fast in database analytic in-memory queries (up to 10 times faster than x86) with their DAX engines.
Fujitsu CPUs compared to M8 does not provide so many cores on the chip but have a better single thread performance than Mx chips.
To finalize it is still a very good idea if you need a highly secure and robust environment to go for SPARC systems. “Endless” OS support (still 15 years, no one else promise that), a great platform supported for the next years and still a roadmap from Fujitsu to reinvest if necessary.
I saw these two slides presenting a joined future:
No RISC no fun!