An Oracle blog about Exadata

  • February 7, 2017

Exadata SL6: A new Era in Software/Hardware Co-Engineering

Since the launch of Exadata in 2008, Intel x86 processors
have powered Exadata database servers.  Today
we are expanding our Exadata family with the addition of Exadata SL6, our first
offering with SPARC M7 processors. SL
stands for “SPARC Linux”. The Exadata Database Machine SL6 is nearly identical
to the x86 based Exadata, except it uses Oracle SPARC T7-2 database servers
based on the SPARC M7 processor. SPARC
M7 is the world’s most advanced processor to run Oracle databases, and the
first to use a revolutionary technology from Oracle referred to as Software in Silicon. Software in Silicon technology is a
breakthrough in microprocessor and server design, enabling databases to run
faster and with unprecedented security and reliability. Even though the database servers are based on
SPARC processors, Exadata SL6 runs the exact same Linux Operating System as
x86-based Exadata systems.

This blog post discusses the highlights of the product as well
as our motivation behind it and what this announcement means to our existing
product line. To learn more about the
finer details, please refer to the Exadata SL6 datasheet, and please watch Juan
Loaiza explaining Exadata SL6 and it’s benefits in this short video

Now let’s take a deeper look into Software in Silicon
technology. Software in Silicon is comprised of three very unique technology
offerings: SQL in Silicon, Capacity in Silicon and Security in Silicon. Each of these topics is worthy of their own individual
blog posts, but for this write-up we will focus on the highlights.

The SPARC M7 processor incorporates 32 on-chip Data
Analytics Accelerator (DAX) engines that are specifically designed to speed up
analytic queries. The accelerators offload in-memory query processing and
perform real-time data decompression; capabilities that are also referred to as
SQL in Silicon and Capacity in Silicon, respectively. The
DAX SQL in Silicon processors accelerate analytic queries by independently
searching and filtering columns of data while the normal processor cores run
other functions. Using Capacity in Silicon. processors perform data
decompression at full memory speeds, allowing large volumes of in-memory data
to be kept in highly compressed format without incurring additional overhead
for decompression when accessed. This means you can drastically increase the
processing speed of analytics, allowing your applications to optimally process
massive amounts of data while using the Oracle Database 12c In-Memory option -
while executing OLTP transactions at top speed at the same time.

The Security in
functions of SPARC M7 continuously perform validity checks on every
memory reference made by the processor without incurring performance overhead.
Security in Silicon helps detect buffer overflow attacks made by malicious
software, and enables applications such as the Oracle Database to identify and
prevent erroneous memory accesses. The Security in Silicon technologies also
encompass cryptographic instruction accelerators, which are integrated into
each processor core of the SPARC M7 processor. These accelerators enable
high-speed encryption/decryption for more than a dozen industry-standard

In addition, SPARC M7 is the world’s fastest conventional
microprocessor. With industry leading 32 cores per processor running at 4.1 GHz,
it has shattered virtually all performance benchmarks. Faster processors allow
you to run bigger workloads on smaller systems, thus lowering your software and
personnel costs.

Exadata SL6 ushers in a new era of hardware and software
co-engineering through transformational Software in Silicon technology and the
pure performance power of SPARC M7, combined with Exadata storage and networking.
Faster processors enable much higher throughput that reduces the number of
servers required to run a task. Exadata SL6 also delivers 20-30% more IOs than
an equivalent Exadata X6-2 configuration and hence further lowers the total
cost of ownership of the solution. Exadata SL6 also offers elastic configurations.
Customers can start with an eighth rack and incrementally add compute or
storage as and when needed. In a future post we will break down the cost
analysis for SL6.

The storage and networking subsystem in Exadata SL6 is
identical to Exadata X6-2. It uses the same InfiniBand infrastructure and High
Capacity and Extreme Flash storage servers. Since Exadata SL6 runs the exact
same Oracle Linux as its x86 counterpart, it supports all the same APIs and
interfaces. The platform becomes agnostic for most developer tasks and

In summary, Exadata SL6 is the best-of-all-worlds database
system. It uses the fastest processors - SPARC M7, with the fastest storage -
Exadata Storage. It uses ultra fast low latency InfiniBand networking with
specialized database aware protocols. Using SQL in Silicon it is able to
deliver analytics at silicon speeds. Capacity in Silicon further improves the
amount of data against which these analytics routines run. All access to system
memory is secured using Security in Silicon, making this system one of the
world’s most secure. To top it all off, it leverages Exadata Software with thousands
of database-focused innovations such as SmartScan, Smart Flash Cache etc. that
not only provide ground breaking database performance but also deliver carrier
grade high availability. And all this goodness comes at the exact same list
price as Exadata X6-2.

One might ask how Eaxadata SL6 fits in with similar offerings
such as Oracle SuperCluster. SuperCluster also offers all the goodness of the
SPARC M7; in fact it was a pioneer. SuperCluster runs Solaris and, with all the
advantages of Exadata Storage, ZFS and many other optimizations, is your ideal platform
to run the most demanding database applications. SL6 broadens our portfolio to
offer the same SPARC M7 and Exadata Storage goodness in a Linux platform. Both
the products have their own differentiators and their own target use cases. At
the end of the day it gives you, the customer, more choices to consume all the
innovation our products provide. We are fully committed to x86 based Exadata
systems as well; they are our flagship offering and we are not digressing from
that path. Exadata SL6 will continue to co-exist with its older cousins
SuperCluster and Exadata X6. A little bit of sibling rivalry makes families
tighter and stronger. 

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