By Josh Rosen, x86 Product Manager-Oracle on Dec 02, 2014
Today Oracle announced the new Oracle Server X5-2 and Oracle Server X5-2L, based on the latest processors from the Intel® Xeon® E5-2600 v3 processor family, also known as the Intel Haswell-EP processors. These are the most powerful two-socket servers we’ve ever made, and we are excited to share our most recent innovations. Both of these servers have been designed from the ground up for one purpose – to be the best two-socket servers for running Oracle software.
We have optimized the two servers for different Oracle workloads. Oracle Server X5-2 is ideal for running Oracle Database in a clustered configuration and also for high-density virtualization environments that require an optimal balance between core density, memory footprint, and I/O bandwidth. Oracle Server X5-2L, on the other hand, is the perfect platform for single-node databases and enterprise storage solutions requiring extremely reliability.
With Oracle Server X5-2 and Oracle Server X5-2L we introduce 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. For Oracle Server X5-2 and Oracle Server X5-2L, all of our 2.5-inch disk cages support 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.
NVM Express can also be used to speed up Oracle Solaris and Oracle Solaris ZFS (the filesystem). By configuring ZFS hybrid storage pools to contain NVM Express SSDs, you can benefit from the tiered storage that is possible with the flexible storage options for Oracle Server X5-2L. ZFS will automatically maximize the storage performance by moving data between DRAM, NVM Express SSDs, and conventional hard drives.
To learn more about Oracle Server X5-2 and Oracle Server X5-2L, you can find additional information including data sheets and white papers here.
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.