We are excited to announce the release of our new four-socket x86 server, Oracle Server X5-4, based on Intel’s Haswell-EX processors. Designed with Oracle operating systems, Oracle virtualization, and Oracle Database in mind, this is the most powerful four-socket x86 server we’ve ever built.
With the highest reliability, availability, and serviceability features in the four-socket space, Oracle Server X5-4 is the ideal x86 platform for consolidating enterprise applications and for running in-memory databases that require large amounts of memory and I/O.
Once again, Oracle has teamed up with Intel to deliver a unique processor SKU, Intel ® Xeon ® Processor E7-8895 v3, to provide our elastic computing capability. This specially designed processor SKU effectively combines the capabilities of three different Intel Xeon processors into a single processor, allowing customers to choose between different core counts and frequencies based on the workload. Oracle system design engineers worked closely with Oracle’s operating system development teams to achieve the ability to vary the core count and operating frequency of the Xeon E7-8895 v3 processor with time without the need for a system level reboot.
Like its two-socket cousins, Oracle Server X5-4 now supports a new high-bandwidth flash technology known as NVM Express (NVMe). Using an Oracle-unique design, we are able to improve the bandwidth to each flash drive by over 2.5 times, compared to conventional SSDs. We achieved this by eliminating the SAS/SATA controller from the path completely.
By bringing four PCIe lanes directly to the NVM Express SSD itself, we are able to provide 32 Gb/sec bandwidth to each drive. That’s over 2.5x the bandwidth when compared to the 12 Gb/sec pipe of a conventional SAS3 SSD. And, along with the additional bandwidth, we eliminate the protocol conversion to and from SAS, further reducing latency and boosting performance of transactional workloads.
We were able to accomplish this bandwidth breakthrough and also use standard Small Form Factor (SFF) drives. Oracle’s NVM Express SSDs fit into the same drive bays as hard drives and conventional SSDs. Oracle Server X5-4 supports up to four NVM Express drives in designated slots for a total capacity of 6.4 TB. These slots connect through the disk back plan to an internal PCIe switch.
Most importantly, we’ve engineered a way to make these flash drives hot-pluggable. This allows you to keep the server and database running even in the event of a NVM Express SSD replacement.
So why is this new flash technology so important when running Oracle software? For Oracle Database, our NVM Express flash technology is optimized to accelerate Oracle Database using a feature called Database Smart Flash Cache. This feature keeps recently accessed data warm in flash storage, reducing the chance that the database needs to fetch the data from slower magnetic media that may be direct attached or resident on a NAS/SAN fabric. In addition to the high-bandwidth interface to the NVM Express SSDs, the flash technology itself has been engineered to be high-endurance and write-optimized for Oracle Database.
Oracle Server X5-4 supports 72 cores (or 144 threads), 6 TB memory, 7.2 TB HDD capacity, and contains 11 PCIe Gen 3 I/O expansion slots. It is also the most dense x86 server based off of the Intel Xeon E7 processors with its 3U chassis, allowing 40% higher rack-level core and DIMM slot density than the competition.
Josh Rosen is a Senior Principal Product Strategy Manager for Oracle’s x86 servers, focusing on Oracle’s operating systems and software. He previously spent more than a decade as a developer and architect of system management software. Josh has worked on system management for many of Oracle's hardware products ranging from the earliest blade systems to the latest Oracle x86 servers.