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Software in Silicon: What It Does and Why

White Paper Published By: Oracle CX
Oracle CX
Published:  Oct 19, 2017
Type:  White Paper

The Software in Silicon design of the SPARC M7 processor, and the recently announced SPARC S7 processor, implement memory access validation directly into the processor so that you can protect application data that resides in memory. It also includes on-chip Data Analytics Accelerator (DAX) engines that are specifically designed to accelerate analytic functions. The DAX engines make in-memory databases and applications run much faster, plus they significantly increase usable memory capacity by allowing compressed databases to be stored in memory without a performance penalty.


The following Software in Silicon technologies are implemented in the SPARC S7 and M7 processors:


Note: Security in Silicon encompasses both Silicon Secured Memory and cryptographic instruction acceleration, whereas SQL in Silicon includes In-Memory Query Acceleration and In-Line Decompression.


  • Silicon Secured Memory is the first-ever end-to-end implementation of memory-access validation done in hardware. It is designed to help prevent security bugs, such as Heartbleed, from putting systems at risk by performing real-time monitoring of memory requests made by software processes. It stops unauthorized access to memory whether that access is due to a programming error or a malicious attempt to exploit buffer overruns. It also helps accelerate code development and helps ensure software quality, reliability, and security.

  • The SPARC M7 processor includes 32 cryptographic instruction accelerators while the SPARC S7 processor includes 8, one per core in both cases. This enables the system to deliver wire-speed encryption for secure data center operation without a performance penalty. The accelerators support industry-leading, industry-standard ciphers and hashes. The on-chip cryptographic acceleration was first introduced in SPARC processors in 2005 and the current implementation, with some enhancements, has been offered over four years.

  • In-Memory Query Acceleration increases the performance of in-memory database queries by operating on data that is streamed directly from memory via extremely high-bandwidth interfacesówith speeds up to 160 GB/secóresulting in large performance gains. In-Memory Query Acceleration is implemented in the SPARC S7 and M7 processors through multiple accelerator engines (described in more detail later).

  • In-Line Decompression is a feature that significantly increases usable memory capacity. The SPARC M7 processor runs data decompression with performance that is equivalent to 64 CPU cores (24 CPU cores for the SPARC S7 processor). This capability allows compressed databases to be stored in memory while being accessed and manipulated at full speed.


This whitepaper focuses on Silicon Secured Memory and SQL in Silicon.

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