Exadata System Software 20.1

June 19, 2020 | 6 minute read
Gavin Parish
Senior Principal Product Manager
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Exadata System Software Release is now generally available.

This release follows Exadata System Software Release 19.3, bringing further innovations for smarter infrastructure, improved performance, and smarter management.

There have been over 20 unique software features released in the last year including improved performance for all database workloads. Not only across traditional workloads such as transaction processing, analytics, consolidation, but including support for modern multi-mode applications such as IoT, Machine Learning, gaming, and eCommerce. We continue our tradition of protecting your investment in Exadata, with all new software features compatible across RoCE and InfiniBand systems, and all supported Exadata hardware generations.

In this post, we outline some key enhancements in Exadata software focused on three areas.

  • Smarter Infrastructure
  • Improved Performance
  • Smarter Management

If you're the TL;DR type, you can just head to the New Features for Oracle Exadata System Software Release 20.x section in the Oracle Exadata System Overview Guide, or view the webcast by Kothanda Umamageswaran, Senior Vice President of Exadata Development.

Still with me, great! Let's look at some features.

Smarter Infrastructure

Exadata Secure RDMA Fabric Isolation

Exadata Secure Server imageExadata Secure RDMA Fabric Isolation enables strict network isolation for Oracle Real Application Clusters (Oracle RAC) in multi-tenant scenarios. This new feature, available on Exadata RoCE virtualized environments, allows each tenant residing in dedicated virtual machine (VM) clusters to use RoCE VLANs and security tag enforcement at the KVM host level to ensure database servers in separate clusters cannot communicate with each other over a shared storage network. This feature aligns with InfiniBand partitioning for network isolation in previous generations.

See Using Exadata Secure RDMA Fabric Isolation in the documentation for more details.

Improved Performance

Exadata Smart Flash Log Write-Back

To increase log write throughput in high performance database workloads, redo log writes to hard drives are now automatically and transparently stored using Exadata Smart Flash Cache in Write-Back mode on High Capacity Exadata Storage Servers. Freeing up hard disk drive resources for I/O intensive activities such as GoldenGate log mining, log archiving, and RMAN backup and restore. Depending on system workload, up to 2.5x improvement in log write throughput can be achieved.

This feature works in conjunction with the Persistent Memory Commit Accelerator (available on X8M systems), which provides significantly lower latency for the initial redo log write from the database, and Smart Flash Logging, which prevents the occasional log write latency outliers. Smart Flash Log Write-Back boosts overall log write throughput.

Oracle Data Guard primary and standby databases both take advantage of this boost in throughput for online redo log files and standby redo log files respectively. When space resource management is configured for the Exadata Smart Flash Cache, caching of redo log files is included in the space accounting for each container database (CDB) or pluggable database (PDB).

Fast In-Memory Columnar Cache Creation

Fast In-Memory Columnar Cache CreationThis feature provides a significant performance improvement when creating columnar cache with In-Memory database formats by reading data from hybrid columnar formats that are already in Exadata Flash Cache. This is especially beneficial when multiple concurrent workloads are sharing the hard disk I/O bandwidth. For example, if both a backup that utilizes the hard disk bandwidth and the In-Memory columnar cache creation are running concurrently, Fast In-Memory Columnar Cache Creation will use flash cache, allowing both the backup and In-Memory columnar cache creation to run faster.

See In-Memory Columnar Format Support in the Oracle Exadata System Software User's Guide for more information about the in-memory columnar cache format.

Cell-to-Cell Rebalance Preserves Persistent Memory

For Exadata X8M RoCE systems, this new feature builds on the existing Exadata Smart Flash Cache feature that preserves data during cell-to-cell rebalancing operations, enabling the Persistent Memory Data Accelerator to rebalance the persistent memory (PMEM) cache automatically to maintain consistent application performance. When a rebalance operation moves data to a different storage server, for example after a hard disk suffers a real or predictive failure, any data that might be cached in the Persistent Memory Data Accelerator in the source storage server will be replicated to the target storage server automatically.

Smarter Management

Controlling Persistent Memory Usage for Specific Databases

To ensure mission-critical databases are given priority to valuable persistent memory resources in consolidated environments, you can now enable/disable Persistent Memory Data and Commit Accelerators at a database level using two new IORM interdatabase plan directives. Plan directives pmemcache and pmemlog can be set to “off” to prevent the specified database from using the PMEM cache and log, which is otherwise available to all databases. ie.

alter iormplan dbplan=((name=testdb, pmemlog=off, pmemcache=off));


See Using IORM to Control Database Access to Flash and PMEM Resources and Controlling Access to PMEM Cache and PMEM Log in the Oracle Exadata System Software User's Guide for more information.

Other Management Enhancements

Other enhancements to management in Exadata System Software 20.1 include:

  • Exadata System Software internal Management Server (MS) on both database and storage servers move from an Oracle WebLogic Server based application server, to Eclipse Jetty. A full-featured application server such as Oracle WebLogic Server provides many features that Exadata System Software does not need, along with additional security requirements on these unneeded features. By transitioning to Eclipse Jetty, a lightweight, limited-feature application server, fewer system resources are required, and the attack surface is substantially reduced
  • Oracle Linux has been updated to Oracle Linux 7.8 UEK5 Update 3, and it now includes Python 3 on the database server. Python 2 is also included for backwards compatibility. (OVM dom0 remains on Oracle Linux 6)
  • Diagnostics and Secure Eraser live boot CDs are now simplified and easier to use. This makes it easier to work with Oracle Support on low-level issues using the diagnostics image, as well as decommissioning or moving database and storage servers using the Secure Eraser image

More Information

More information on Exadata System Software Release 20.1 can be found in the New Features for Oracle Exadata System Software Release 20.x section in the Oracle Exadata System Overview Guide.

You can also view the webcast of the Exadata Software Release 20.1 by Senior Vice President of Exadata Development, Kothanda Umamageswaran.


Exadata System Software Release 20.1 is the best upgrade target for customers who want to move to Oracle Linux 7. New Exadata X8 and X8M systems will ship with Exadata System Software Release 20.1. Customers upgrading from previous software releases can head to My Oracle Support Note 888828.1 for guidance on the minimum set of Grid Infrastructure and Database Software versions and patches needed to update to Exadata System Software Release 20.1. (Or you could just talk to Oracle Platinum Services to take care of it.)

A big thanks to our Exadata Development team who continue to provide these new releases to enhance the Exadata platform.

We are always interested in your feedback. You are welcome to engage with us via comments here.

Gavin Parish

Senior Principal Product Manager

Gavin is a product manager in Oracle’s Exadata team, with a focus on software and hardware roadmap. Prior to the Exadata team, Gavin was a founding member of the team responsible for launching the industry’s first on-premises public cloud technology - Oracle Cloud at Customer. In his 15 years in Oracle Product Management, Presales and Consulting roles, Gavin has developed a robust understanding of all things Oracle, helping customers architect and implement a variety of infrastructure and application technologies.

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