NCube Inc and Oracle Corp duly made their announcement of a massively parallel relational database computer system after we closed for press on Monday (CI No 1,198). The NCube 2 Scalar Supercomputer uses up to 8,192 custom processors, in which configuration it is claimed to deliver 60 GIPS and 27 GFLOPS, and once the version of the Oracle relational database being written for it is ready, NCube hopes to sell the machine for commercial applications as well as scientific and technical ones. NCube’s previous machines have been front-ended by a Unix processor, but the company will offer a version of Unix System V.3 to run on the NCube 2. The building block for the NCube 2 systems is a single chip 64-bit processor integrated with error-correcting memory management unit, message routing hardware and input-output processors. First deliveries of the NCube 2 are set for next month, with prices starting at $500,000 – but the Beaverton, Oregon company doesn’t say how many processors are used in the minimum configuration. Users will have to wait until the first quarter of next year for Oracle Corp’s Parallel Server Architecture version of Oracle for NCube 2, which it plans to market to large financial institutions, the medical and pharmaceutical industries and civilian, military and security departments of government. Oracle’s Parallel Server Architecture enables multiple copies of the database software and its tools to run simultaneously on many central processors, sharing the total workload and co-operating in handling an individual user’s request for transaction and database services. The allies reckon that hundreds, or thousands, of the NCube 2 processors can be running Oracle simultaneously with almost linear increases in performance as more processors are added. The machine supports up to 500Gb of storage and users will be able to access databases using the Unix running directly on the NCube 2, or via smaller computers linked to the NCube via Ethernet and TCP/IP. And interfaces are planned for later next year so that IBM mainframes, DEC minicomputers and other of the commonly-used business computers will be able to access the machine directly, so that it can be used as a giant back-end database machine to existing hosts.
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