Oracle’s New Memory-Optimized x86 Servers: Getting the Most Out of Oracle Database In-Memory

With the launch of Oracle Database In-Memory, it is now possible to perform real-time analytics operations on your business data as it exists at that moment – in the DRAM of the server – and immediately return completely current and consistent data. The Oracle Database In-Memory option dramatically accelerates the performance of analytics queries by storing data in a highly optimized columnar in-memory format.  This is a truly exciting advance in database technology.

As Larry Ellison mentioned in his recent webcast about Oracle Database In-Memory, queries run 100 times faster simply by throwing a switch.  But in order to get the most from the Oracle Database In-Memory option, the underlying server must also be memory-optimized.

This week Oracle announced new 4-socket and 8-socket x86 servers, the Sun Server X4-4 and Sun Server X4-8, both of which have been designed specifically for Oracle Database In-Memory.  These new servers use the fastest Intel® Xeon® E7 v2 processors and each subsystem has been designed to be the best for Oracle Database, from the memory, I/O and flash technologies right down to the system firmware.

Amongst these subsystems, one of the most important aspects we have optimized with the Sun Server X4-4 and Sun Server X4-8 are their memory subsystems.  The new In-Memory option makes it possible to select which parts of the database should be memory optimized.  You can choose to put a single column or table in memory or, if you can, put the whole database in memory.  The more, the better.  With 3 TB and 6 TB total memory capacity on the Sun Server X4-4 and Sun Server X4-8, respectively, you can memory-optimize more, if not your entire database.  


Sun Server X4-8 CMOD with 24 DIMM slots per socket (up to 192 DIMM slots per server)


But memory capacity is not the only important factor in selecting the best server platform for Oracle Database In-Memory.  As you put more of your database in memory, a critical performance metric known as memory bandwidth comes into play.  The total memory bandwidth for the server will dictate the rate in which data can be stored and retrieved from memory. 

In order to achieve real-time analysis of your data using Oracle Database In-Memory, even under heavy load, the server must be able to handle extreme memory workloads.  With that in mind, the Sun Server X4-8 was designed with the maximum possible memory bandwidth, providing over a terabyte per second of total memory bandwidth.  Likewise, the Sun Server X4-4 also provides extreme memory bandwidth in an even more compact form factor with over half a terabyte per second, providing customers with scalability and choice depending on the size of the database.

Beyond the memory subsystem, Oracle’s Sun Server X4-4 and Sun Server X4-8 systems provide other key technologies that enable Oracle Database to run at its best.  The Sun Server X4-4 allows for up 4.8 TB of internal, write-optimized PCIe flash while the Sun Server X4-8 allows for up to 6.4 TB of PCIe flash.  This enables dramatic acceleration of data inserts and updates to Oracle Database.  And with the new elastic computing capability of Oracle’s new x86 servers, server performance can be adapted to your specific Oracle Database workload to ensure that every last bit of processing power is utilized.

Because Oracle designs and tests its x86 servers specifically for Oracle workloads, we provide the highest possible performance and reliability when running Oracle Database.  To learn more about Sun Server X4-4 and Sun Server X4-8, you can find more details including data sheets and white papers here.


Josh Rosen is a Principal Product 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. 

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