Wednesday Apr 20, 2011

Flash Magic

Flash GordonWho knew that Flash would turn out to be so powerful ... and so enduring? Flash memory in its various forms is probably the electronic component that is most impacting the performance and utility of our devices, from our portable audio players, to our tablets, and all the way to our our Oracle Exadata Database Machines.

Combining flash memory with more traditional disk has already been shown to be a great way to improve both performance and availability in a variety of scenarios. Don't have flash memory in your computer? Check out the Sun Flash Accelerator F20 PCIe Card, a low-profile PCIe card that supports onboard solid-state based storage. 

Roger Bitar has written an article that takes a look at how coupling this card with Oracle Database 11g Release 2 can improve performance: Oracle Database Performance Results with Smart Flash Cache on Sun SPARC Enterprise Midrange Server. Roger used the GEN-OLTP 1.6 benchmark, an internally developed transaction processing database workload, to do some before-and-after comparisons. This workload simulates a lightweight Global Order System, and it was developed from a variety of customer workloads. It has a high degree of concurrency and stresses database commit operations. Testing was done with a variety of parameters, but as an example, using Database Smart Flash Cache with 2.5 times the original SGA buffer cache size (20 GB) yielded the following improvement over the original run without flash:

  • 25% increase in number of users
  • 17.2% more TPM

Take a look. Perhaps you can conquer your IT Ming the Merciless with a little Flash.

- Kemer

Tuesday Nov 23, 2010

Flash, you're it!

Flash

Do you remember the days when disks were large mechanical devices that generated a lot of heat and were prone to mechanical failure – usually at the worst possible moment? We will be telling our grandchildren stories about these quaint devices. The age of flash storage is upon us! This solid-state approach to storage brings many advantages to the IT environment, not the least of which is the opportunity to dramatically enhance performance.

Enhancing Oracle Database Performance with Flash Storage, by Richard Gostanian and Senthil Ramanujam, gives us some hard numbers and best practices. Not only does this in-depth article show where flash memory provides speed-ups, but also where it doesn't. For example, the authors discovered two areas where it provides little, if any, enhancement: when either CPUs or I/O are saturated, or when you use it for redo logs under light loads.

The authors conclude with an important message: 'The performance gains resulting from the use of flash, together with the other benefits provided by flash – reduced power consumption, reduced floorspace requirements[6], increased reliability, and the like – make flash a compelling option for the Oracle database environment.'

I think this is article you will not want to miss.

- Kemer

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Contributors:
Rick Ramsey
Kemer Thomson
and members of the OTN community

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