Every time a major manufacturer announces a new system, we hear the same common messages from marketing. More CPU, more RAM, faster than before, more of this… more of that… yadda yadda yadda. Often we become jaded about these technology “upgrades”, as they are often no more than an update to the underlying technology. While these technology refreshes do provide performance gains, they are evolutionary in nature and do not always introduce major changes to the system. This is what we saw in the previous ODA refresh, when we went from the ODA X3‐2 to the ODA X4‐2, which improved CPU capacity and performance. Recently, Oracle announced a new ODA refresh with the X5‐2. This refresh brings all the common speaking points of a common technology refresh, but it also kicks up a notch with several more important new features that make the ODA an even more powerful and cost efficient system.
First on my list of major changes is the introduction of TWO types of FLASH SSD's on the Appliance, with four 200G SSD's and four 400G SSD's! The mirrored 200G drives are used to provide wickedly fast space for the Oracle database redo logs. Redo logs contain a history of all changes made to the database, and allow the database to recover data in the unlikely event that the database crashed before the data can be moved into the primary data storage. Slow redo logs equal a slow Oracle database!
The second set of SSD's are the big change in this generation. These 400G SSD's leverage a built in ability of the Oracle database called Flash Cache. When you leverage this technology, you can often experience a 6x boost in database performance. Flash Cache adds a second tier of storage to the database’s SGA memory, allowing the ODA to automatically improve database performance. When a block of data is ejected from the in-‐memory SGA, it is moved to the SSD cache. When the database performs a read, it checks the SGA as it normally would, and if the data is not in the SGA, the database then checks the SSD cache. Only if the data is not there, will it retrieve the data from the traditional HDD storage.
This results in significant performance gains, often with the bulk of the active data in either RAM or on SSD with almost no management from the DBA, you simply enable the feature.
Optionally, you can also use these SSD's for table spaces, with the entire database running on the SSD drives. Look for more information on the new software functionality in an upcoming blog. Expand the ODA with an optional second storage tray, and you double the available SSD's used for the cache or table space!
Just like it’s big brothers in the Engineered Systems family, the ODA finally received Infiniband. Infiniband is a networking technology that is seen more often in HPC computing, than in business systems. Infiniband also runs at 40 Gb/s, a 4x improvement over Ethernet’s 10 Gb/s. More importantly for the database, this technology also offers sub-microsecond latency communication between systems at very high speeds. Compare this to 10G Ethernet which usually measures latency around 4 microseconds. While we are talking about very small numbers, the numbers can rapidly add up providing significant performance improvements. We can look at how this improves Oracle database performance, by looking at how Cache Fusion works. Cache Fusion is the ability for a RAC database to fuse all separate physical SGAs in a cluster of servers together. This allows a request to come into node-A, and have the data pulled from the SGA on node-B without the data every being pulled from disk!
This entire communication process takes place over the new Infiniband link between the compute nodes, turbo charging the inter-‐node communication speeds. The Infiniband link is also used in other ways by the database, this is just one example. This is the same core technology seen in the Exadata and SuperCluster engineered systems.
This next generation ODA also significantly grows the storage capacity, from a maximum of 18T to a whopping 64T of mirrored HDD disk space. The new ODA also allows you to use up to 3.2T of raw SSD Flash for database files, something that the earlier generations do not support. This helps us fit larger databases into the ODA without the need to leverage ZFS appliances, reducing the cost to the customer to consolidate and deploy multi-‐terabyte databases on a low-‐ cost appliance. With the extra space, we also can take advantage of database cloning, which is a huge advantage in DevOps environments.
With this release of the ODA, we now have an option to expand system memory. The X5 base unit comes with 256G of RAM per compute node, and we can grow this to 512G and up to 786G of memory, for a total of 1536G of RAM on an ODA. Not only does this enable large amounts of RAM for In-‐memory databases, it also helps expand how we can better leverage an ODA when virtualized. The ability to have 384G per compute node, opens up new options for memory hungry software, like WebLogic servers fully virtualized in an ODA that leverage both Database In-‐Memory and WebLogic Coherence.
We also can add on an optional second storage assembly that doubles both HDD and SSD capacity. Other options include replacing the Infiniband interconnect with fiber based 10G Ethernet for legacy network connectivity to the datacenter.
This update is not without it’s more traditional updates. The core count rockets up from 48 to 72 cores per ODA. The CPU is upgraded to a 18 core Intel E5-2699 v3 CPU, with 32KB of L1 cache per core, 256 KB of L2 cache per core and 45MB of L3 cache per processor. This provides noticeable performance increases over the prior CPU. As with all generations of the ODA, with pay as you grow licensing, you only need to pay for the database cores you use. This reduces the software expense to license an ODA, not only for database, but also for WebLogic and other technologies that are licensed by the core. We have a faster ILOM port, now supporting 1G Ethernet. Also, there is a host of changes in the software update that comes along with the new hardware. Mythics will talk about the new software features in an upcoming blog.
Contact your Mythics sales rep to learn more about how the ODA X5 can be used for both your database environments, and application tiers. We even have put together a quick way for you to migrate to an ODA. The Mythics Oracle Database Appliance (ODA) Rapid Success Solutions provide critical services to help with smooth and rapid implementations and migrations to the ODA platform, for both Virtualized and bare metal configurations.
Erik Benner, Enterprise Architect, Mythics Inc.