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Everything you want and need to know about Oracle SPARC systems performance

Oracle Advanced Security – Transparent Data Encryption: Secure Database on SPARC M7 Processor Performance Nearly the Same as Clear

Brian Whitney
Principal Software Engineer

Oracle's SPARC T7-1 server is faster and more efficient than a two-processor x86 server (Intel Xeon Processor E5-2699 v3) in processing I/O intensive database queries when running the Oracle Advanced Security Transparent Data Encryption (TDE) feature of Oracle Database 12c.

  • The single-processor SPARC T7-1 server is up to 1.4 times faster than the two-processor x86 system for all queries tested, with TDE enabled and without. On a per chip basis, Oracle's SPARC M7 processor is over twice the performance of the Intel Xeon Processor E5-2699 v3 (Haswell).

  • The SPARC T7-1 server is more efficient than the two-processor x86 system for all queries tested, with TDE enabled and without, as measured by CPU utilization.  For example, on Query A the CPU utilization nearly doubled on the x86 server (41% on clear to 79% with TDE) while on the same Query A the SPARC T7-1 server CPU utilization 30% on clear to 38% with TDE.

In a head-to-head comparison of system performance using Oracle's Transparent Data Encryption, the SPARC T7-1 single processor system with one SPARC M7 (4.13 GHz) processor outperforms a two-processor x86 server with Intel Xeon Processor E5-2699 v3 (2.3 GHz) processors. The two systems were configured with the same storage environment, 256 GB of memory, the same version of Oracle Database 12c, and with the same high-level of tunings.  All tests run with TDE security used the hardware instructions available on the processors (SPARC or x86).

Performance Landscape

In the first table below, results are presented for three different queries and a full table scan.  The results labeled "clear" were executed in clear text or without Transparent Data Encryption.  The results labeled "TDE" are with AES-128 encryption enabled for all of the data tables used in the tablespace with the default parameter of db_block_checking=false.

Query Times (seconds – smaller is better)
System Security Query A Query B Query C Full Table Scan
SPARC T7-1 clear 64.0 61.0 54.8 52.7
TDE 65.3 62.8 56.3 53.4
TDE to Clear ratio 1.03x 1.03x 1.01x
 
Two x86 E5 v3 clear 69.6 68.6 61.7 54.5
TDE 89.4 88.7 73.5 58.1
TDE to Clear ratio 1.3x 1.3x 1.2x 1.1x
Comparing SPARC and x86 on Query Times
SPARC advantage – clear 1.09x 1.12x 1.13x 1.03x
SPARC advantage – TDE 1.37x 1.41x 1.31x 1.09x

From the table above, the average increase in the query's execution time for the SPARC T7-1 server with TDE enabled is about 2%.  The average slow down for the x86 server is about 20%.

Looking into the utilization of the individual processor's cores, reveals that the single processor SPARC T7-1 server, with 32 cores, has an average core utilization of 36% with TDE enabled.  The SPARC T7-1 server still has plenty of cycles and additional processing capability to handle other work.  The two-processor x86 E5 v3 server with a total of 36 cores reveals an average core utilization of over 79% with TDE enabled.  This means there is little to no room in the processors for handling additional work beyond executing just one of these queries individually without affecting the query's execution time and resources. These results are in the table below.

Average Core Utilization (smaller is better)
System Security Query A Query B Query C Full Table Scan
SPARC T7-1 clear 30% 32% 27% 21%
TDE 38% 40% 36% 31%
TDE to Clear ratio 1.3x 1.3x 1.3x 1.5x
 
Two x86 E5 v3 clear 41% 40% 38% 41%
TDE 79% 73% 80% 86%
TDE to Clear ratio 1.9x 1.8x 2.1x 2.1x
Comparing SPARC and x86 on Utilization
SPARC advantage – clear 1.37x 1.25x 1.41x 1.95x
SPARC advantage – TDE 2.08x 1.83x 2.22x 2.77x

Configuration Summary

SPARC Configuration:

SPARC T7-1 server with
1 x SPARC M7 processor (4.13 GHz, 32 cores)
256 GB memory
Flash storage
Oracle Solaris 11.3
Oracle Enterprise Database 12c

x86 Configuration:

Oracle Server X5-2L system with
2 x Intel Xeon Processor E5-2699 v3 (2.3 GHz, 36 total cores)
256 GB memory
Flash storage
Oracle Solaris 11.3
Oracle Enterprise Database 12c

Note that the two systems were configured with the same storage environment, the same version of Oracle Database 12c, and with the same high-level of tunings.

Benchmark Description

The benchmark executes a set of queries on a table of approximately 1 TB in size.  The database contains two copies of the table, one that was built using security and one that does not.  The tablespaces used the same layout on the storage and DBMS parameters. Each query is executed individually after a restart of the database and the average of 5 executions of the query is used as the average execution time and the gathering of other system statistics.

Description of the queries:

  • Query A: Determines how the market share of a given nation within a region has changed over two years for a given part type.
  • Query B: Identifies customers who might have a problem with parts shipped to them.
  • Query C: Determines how much average yearly revenue would be lost if orders were no longer filled for small quantities of certain parts.
  • Full Table Scan: Full table scan of the largest table, over 700 GB of data

Key Points and Best Practices

  • For each system, the 1 TB of data is spread evenly across the flash storage in 1 MB stripes.  This was determined to be the most efficient stripe size for a data warehouse environment with large sequential read operations. With each system having the same amount of memory and database software, the same tuning parameters were used on each system to ensure a fair comparison and that each query induced roughly the same amount of I/O throughput per query.

  • Efficiency was verified by looking at not only the average processor utilization (as measured by Oracle Solaris tool pgstat(1M)), but also by measuring the average processor core utilization at the hardware level.

See Also

Disclosure Statement

Copyright 2016, Oracle and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.  Oracle and Java are registered trademarks of Oracle and/or its affiliates. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners. Results as of March 14, 2016.

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