The Sun Oracle Database Machine - Exadata V2

By Robert Stackowiak
October 21, 2009

On September 15, 2009, Oracle announced the Sun Oracle Database Machine, sometimes referenced by Oracle as Exadata V2. At OpenWorld in October, the new Sun Oracle Database Machine was front and center with live demos outside the main keynote area and frequent mention in keynotes and breakout sessions. This blog entry summarizes what is the same and what is different between Exadata V1 (the HP Oracle Database Machine first introduced at OpenWorld 2008), and Exadata V2, the new Sun Oracle Database Machine.


Exadata V2 and Exadata V1 Similarities

The two versions of the Database Machines were developed in partnership with Oracle platform partners. Since Oracle still awaited approval for the acquisition of Sun Microsystems by the EU at the time of the launch of the Sun Oracle Database Machine, the relationship (at the time of this blog post) can best be described as a similar partnership to that which existed with HP for Exadata V1. Oracle sells and supports the Sun Oracle Database Machine. Sun builds the hardware to Oracle's specifications and the two companies jointly install the Database Machine, including configuration and set-up of a functioning database (including set-up of mirroring via ASM and set-up of optimal init.ora parameters).

The hardware provides balanced throughput and, as with Exadata V1, features a Full Rack configuration of 8 Database Server nodes and 14 Exadata Storage Server Cells (each Cell containing 12 disks). The high-speed interconnect provided is InfiniBand. Each Database Machine Full Rack contains 3 InfiniBand switches to assure there is no single point of switch failure and up to 7 additional Racks can be attached to a Full Rack without the need for an external switch. The design is such that the right balance of Database Server nodes, Exadata Storage Cells, and increased throughput is provided when adding Racks so that response time can remain constant even as data and workloads grow.

Though Exadata V1 was introduced with Oracle Database 11g Release 1 support (version 11.1.0.7), that original platform can now be upgraded to Oracle Database 11g Release 2, the same Release that the Sun Oracle Database Machine supports. In fact, the two systems can be leveraged as part of a common Database Grid provided the same Database Release to deployed on both. Both systems leverage the Exadata Storage Server Software to perform smart scans in storage and also utilize the CPUs and memory in the Storage Cells to push other database functionality to disk (see my previous blog entries re: Oracle Database 11g Release 2 and the Database Machine / Exadata).


Exadata V2 and Exadata V1 Differences

There were a lot of changes besides the name change on the box. While Oracle targeted only data warehousing with Exadata V1, the target audience for Exadata V2 includes both data warehousing and transaction processing. Given some changes in capacities and features, a typical usage for Exadata V2 is expected to be database server consolidation (e.g. redeploying multiple databases that reside on multiple machines to a single Sun Oracle Database Machine). Typical justification for such consolidation includes cost savings associated with simplified management and reducing the overall power consumption.

Performance-wise, a number of components are faster in the Sun Oracle Database Machine. The Xeon 5500 quad core CPUs are about 80 percent faster than in the previous platform. Memory consists of DDR DRAM that is about 20 percent faster. Disk throughput is about 50 percent faster. The Sun Oracle Database Machine contains 40 Gb per second InfiniBand, about 100 percent faster than in the previous platform.

Capacities were also increased. SAS disks are now 600 GB in size (compared to 450 GB in V1) and SATA disks are now 2 TB in size (compared to 1 TB in V1). Each database server node now contains 72 GB of memory (compared to 32 GB in V1). Each database server node now also has 4 Ethernet links.

New to the Storage Server Cells is Sun FlashFire Technology. Each Storage Server Cell contains 384 GB of Flash in the form of PCI cards. In a Full Rack containing 14 Storage Server Cells, there is 5.3 Terabytes of Flash. You might think of the Flash as an intermediate area used by the database for cache between memory and storage. Objects can be pinned into the Flash Cache using the ALTER TABLE statement. You can also create Flash Disks using this Flash Cache, keeping in mind that this is a volatile area (so a back-up strategy should also be put in place).

While raw disk bandwidth for a Full Rack is 21 GB per second, the Flash data bandwidth reaches 50 GB per second. This enables Oracle to claim 1,000,000 IOPS are possible based on IO requests of 8 K in size.

The Sun Oracle Database Machine also affords more flexibility in configurations. The V1 configurations consisted of a Half Rack (scalable to two Half Racks) and a Full Rack. The new Sun Oracle Database Machine Half Rack actually resides in a Full Rack cabinet that is partially populated and can be filled out later into a Full Rack. There is also a Quarter Rack configuration mounted in the Full Rack cabinet that can be filled out into a Half Rack or Full Rack.


Summary

The Sun Oracle Database Machine is being positioned by Oracle as an ideal platform for a variety of applications and consolidation efforts. Any application certified on Oracle Database 11g Release 2 can run on the platform. V2 extended Oracle database functionality tied to hardware beyond "storage aware" optimization techniques provided by the Exadata Storage Server Software and added new "Flash aware" database capabilities that take advantage of Sun's FlashFire Technology.


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