The Oracle database machine, gets a major makeover. As Larry Ellison phrased it in his Openworld 2012 Keynote, “Thought that the x2-2 was fast ? You Aint seen nothin Yet”.
If you go to http://www.oracle.com/technetwork/server-storage/engineered-systems/exadata/index.html, at the middle of the page, in the section titled “What’s New”, you can see a in depth technical discussion of the changes incorporated in the x3-2.
So without further Ado, let me explain what the changes are, in the x3-2 compared to the x2-2
Faster CPU’s/More Cores.
– The Oracle Database Machine x3-2, uses the Intel Xeon E5-2690 Processors (2.9Ghz). 2 Sockets, 8 cores each, total 16 cores in each database node (The x2-2 had 12 cores per node). These are the Sandy bridge processors (x2-2 had the Intel Xeon westmere processors), which have a new micro architecture, and are extremely fast (Comparable in speed to the IBM Power7 cpu’s).
So now in the full Rack of x3-2, the database machine has 128 CPU Cores (The x2-2 had 96 Cores).
– The CPU’s on the exadata cells have been upgraded to use the Intel Xeon E5-2630L (2.0Ghz) Sandybridge processors. The Cpu’s are 6 cores each.
More Physical Memory (DRAM)
– The Oracle Database Machine x3-2 has 128Gb of DRAM memory per database server. This is expandable to 256Gb of Memory. So in the Full Rack you can have upto 2048Gb (2Tb) of physical memory.
– The physical memory on the x3-2 exadata cells, has been upgraded to have 64Gbytes of Ram.
More 10GigE networking ports
– The 4 Networking ports on the database server, mother board are now 1/10Gbe. They are autosensing,and are copper only. The remaining 2 Network ports are 10Gbe and can be connected via fiber.
More Flash Cache.
– The x3-2 exadata storage servers now use the Sun F40 Flash cards instead of the Sun F20 Flash cards used in the x2-2. Each Card is 400Gb. There are 4 PCI-E Flash cards in each cell. So you have 1600Gbytes of Flash cache in each cell. In a full rack x3-2, you get 22.4Tb of Flash cache (The x2-2 had 5Tb of Flash cache in a full rack).
So what does this increased amount of Flash mean in terms of performance ?
On an x3-2 full rack, you can get
– 1.5 Million datatase read iops from the flash cache.
– 1 Million database write iops from flash cache
– 100Gbytes/sec Flash Cache, scan throughput
New 1/8th Rack
A new configuration (In addition to the Full, Half & Quarter configurations) of a 1/8th Rack has been announced. So customers can now buy a configuration smaller than the quarter rack. It is really a 1/4th rack with half the cpu’s, half the flash cards and half the disks turned off. So the hardware price is lower and the software licensing costs are lower.
The other improvements include lower power consumption and improved cabling and airflow.
One notable change is that, the x3-2 now, does not have a KVM. This leaves 2U at the top of the Rack, where customers can deploy their in home switches, for network connectivity.
The number of disks, the type of disks, the disk capacities and speeds, in the exadata x3-2 cells,remain the same as it was in the x2-2 cells.
Exadata Smart Flash Cache Write-Back
With the improved write speeds of the new PCI-E flash cards, the flash cache can now used as a write-back cache. This means that as soon as the data is written to flash cache, oracle database considers the write complete (ie it does not have to wait till the data is written to the physical magnetic disk). This helps improve the performance of applications that are currently bottlenecked on database writes.
On the x2-2, the random writes were written to the flash cache too, however it had to be written to disk (Or strictly speaking, to the disk controller cache) before the write was acknowledged by the database as completed. With the write-back cache functionality in x3-2 as soon as the write is persisted in the flash cache the database considers the write as complete. The writes to disk only get done when the ESS software detects that new blocks need to be read from disk to the flash cache and there is no free space in the flash cache. At such times, least frequently used data from the flash cache gets written to physical disk.
The smart flash cache algorithm makes sure that things like backups do not overwrite the entire cache.
The Full Rack x2-2 can do 1 million write iops to flash cache using this new functionality.
Reduced database brownout time during cell failure/removal.
In previous versions of the ESS software there could be upto 8 seconds of brown out time, when a cell failed, which has been now reduced to sub second.
Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel
– The database servers and Exadata storage servers on the x3-2 now use Oracle Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel 1.
The UEK1 was the operating system on the x2-8’s for a while now. With the x3-2’s we now use the UEK Kernel on the x3-2 database and storage server.
– DBFS now supported on Solaris and Sparc Super Cluster.
The above list of hardware and software changes are just the highlights, not a complete list.