20 August 2019

Oracle Exadata Hardware X8-2 and X8-8

Earlier this month, Oracle announced the availability of the latest Exadata machine, the X8-2. As well as the option to swap in big 14 TB disks in older versions of Exadata that were shipped with far smaller disks, allowing these older systems to substantially increase there capacity.

The changes in specifications compared to X7 are not huge. The most eye catching change is the size of the disks: from 10 TB to 14 TB. Considering the fact that licence costs for Exadata are calculated based on number of disks, this means that for the same money, the capacity of Exadata is substantially increased.

Oracle engineered systems executive presentation

All In on Exadata

Focusing on some details:

Compared to X7, the database nodes have a new CPU. It has the same number of cores (2x 24 per  node)  but a somewhat higher clockspeed: 2.4GHz vs. 2.1GHz in X7. The size of the memory has not changed: standard 384 GB per server with a maximum of 1.5 TB.

The inifiniband setup has stayed the same.

As mentioned, things have changed regarding the storage nodes. The disk size went up from 10 TB to 14 TB. The number of cores on the Storage Node went to 2x 16 per node, up from 2x 10 in X7. A slightly higher clockspeed: 2.3 GHz vs 2.2 GHz in X7.  Memory and Flash cards stayed the same at 192 GB and 4x 6.4 TB respectively per storage node. All in all, the number number of IOPS is only slightly increased compared to X7.

A third type of storage node has been introduced: Storage Server XT. This is a storage node without flash cards and with less memory and only a single CPU. This type of node is intended for long term data storage for archiving purposes. It will cost considerably less than the regular storage nodes.

Check out this data sheet for the full specification overview: https://www.oracle.com/a/ocom/docs/engineered-systems/exadata/exadata-x8-2-ds.pdf

Disk Swap in older Exadata models

Michael points out a very interesting new option announced by Oracle along with Exadata X8-2: the option to swap the disks in older Exadata models to the new 14 TB disks. This allows customers to replace the disks in the storage nodes in their Exadata X4, X5, X6 and X7 models (not for the models prior to X4) with the new 14 TB disks. When the capacity of the current Exadata system is not enough for today’s needs, swapping disks is far cheaper than adding storage nodes. Adding new storage nodes is not attractive, for several reasons: the increased license costs is the main one and additionally you will probably not be able to use all space on the newly added disks. This is because ASM slices data across the same size on all disks; the smallest disk determines the space used on all disks, including far larger disks. Swapping disks allows you to have bigger disks in all storage nodes, leveraging disks (and the associated license costs) to the fullest. And you get to keep your old disks after swapping in the ones. With a little operation, these disks can be turned into standard hard disks that can be used in any standard rack.

As a little telling example: assume an existing Exadata X4 system – a quarter rack. It has three storage nodes with a total of 36 x 4 TB diskspace or 144 TB in totaal. After swapping the disks, this goes up to 504 TB in total. over three times as much. Without increased license costs – you only pay for the new disks.

The swap of the disks can be performed on line – no downtime – when certain conditions are met. This requires the latest release of the Exadata software, in order to work with the firmware for the new 14TB disks. More information can be found in Oracle Support site note 1544637.1: https://support.oracle.com/epmos/faces/DocumentDisplay?id=1544637.1

Summary of Eaxadata 8 Capabilities and Use Cases

The Oracle Exadata Database Machine (Exadata[1]) is a computing platform that is specialized and optimized for running Oracle Database. The goal of Exadata[2] is to achieve higher performance and availability at lower cost by moving database algorithms and intelligence into storage and networking, bypassing the traditional processing layers.[3]

Exadata X8-2 Full Rack

Exadata is a combined hardware and software platform that includes scale-out compute servers, scale-out intelligent storage servers, ultra-fast InfiniBand networking, ultra fast NVMe flash, and specialized Exadata Software[4] in a wide range of shapes and price points. Exadata Storage uses high-performance servers to store data and run Exadata Software to run data-intensive database processing directly in the shared storage tier.

Exadata debuted[5] in 2008 as the first in Oracle Corporation's family of Engineered Systems[6] for use in corporate data centers deployed as "private clouds". In October 2015, Exadata became available in the Oracle Cloud as a subscription service, known as the Exadata Cloud Service.[7]

Oracle MAA Best Practices - Applications Considerations

[8] Oracle databases deployed in the Exadata Cloud Service are 100% compatible with databases deployed on Exadata on-premises, which enables customers to transition to the Oracle Cloud with no application changes. Oracle Corporation manages this service, including hardware, network, Linux software and Exadata software, while customers have complete ownership of their databases.

In early 2017, a third Exadata deployment choice became available. Exadata Cloud at Customer[9] is Exadata Cloud Service technology deployed on-premises (behind the corporate firewall) and managed by Oracle Cloud experts. Like the Exadata Cloud Service, Exadata Cloud at Customer is owned and managed by Oracle, and licensed through a pay-as-you-go subscription. The Oracle Cloud at Customer[10] program is intended to bring all the benefits of the Oracle public cloud while still satisfying security and regulatory constraints.

Exadata Use Cases

Exadata is designed to optimally run any Oracle Database workload or combination of workloads, such as an OLTP application running simultaneously with Analytics processing. The platform is frequently used to consolidate many databases that were previously running on dedicated database servers. Exadata's scale-out architecture is naturally suited to running in the Oracle Cloud, where computing requirements can dynamically grow and sometimes shrink.

Historically, specialized database computing platforms were designed for a particular workload, such as Data Warehousing, and poor or unusable for other workloads, such as OLTP. Exadata has optimizations for all database workloads, implemented such that mixed workloads share system resources fairly. Resource management features also allow for prioritized allocation of system resources, such as always favoring workloads servicing interactive users over reporting and batch, even if they are accessing the same data.

Long running requests, characterized by Data Warehouses, reports, batch jobs and Analytics, are reputed to run many times faster compared to a conventional, non-Exadata database server.[11][12] Customer references often cite performance gains of 10x or greater. Analytics workloads can also use the Oracle Database In-Memory[13] option on Exadata for additional acceleration, and In-Memory Databases on Exadata have been extended to take advantage of Flash memory capacity, many times larger than the capacity of DRAM. Exadata’s Hybrid Columnar Compression[4] feature is intended to reduce the storage consumption of Data Warehouses and archival data as well as increase performance by reducing the amount of IO.

Transactional (OLTP) workloads on Exadata benefit from the incorporation of Flash memory into Exadata’s storage hierarchy, and the automatic "tiering" of data into memory, Flash or disk storage. Special Flash algorithms optimize Flash for response time sensitive database operations such as log writes. For the most demanding OLTP, all-Flash storage eliminates the latency of disk media completely.

What's New in Oracle Exadata 19.1 and Oracle Database 19c

Exadata Design Concepts

The hardware components that make up a typical database computing platform are a compute server connected over a network to a storage array. The database software runs on the compute server and sends or receives database information to and from the storage array over the network. The hardware components use standard software protocols to "talk" to each other. This separation via standard interfaces is what allows a computing platform to run a wide variety of software and hardware from different vendors. All of the application logic and the processing of the data is performed on the compute server, to which all the data must be sent. With this approach, a computing platform can be used for a wide range of software applications, though it will not be optimized for any particular application.

The goal of Exadata was to create a complete stack of software and hardware focused on the Oracle Database, that allowed processing to be moved to its optimal location. If Exadata is only processing Oracle Database requests it can take advantage of that in all the software layers. The hardware design can include elements that are most advantageous to Oracle Database applications, such as very fast InfiniBand networking and Flash memory. Given the importance of data storage to databases, Oracle was particularly focused on optimizing that aspect of the Exadata platform.

Why to Use an Oracle Database?

Oracle wanted a storage layer for Exadata that could easily scale out and parallelize Oracle Database requests. It also recognized the opportunity for storage to cooperate in the processing of database requests beyond just storing and shipping data. For example, rather than send an entire database table across the network to the compute server to find a small number of records, such data filtering could be done in storage and only the resulting records sent across the network. The addition of Flash memory to Exadata Storage Servers also opened up a range of possibilities for optimizing performance in the storage layer. Over time, as the performance and capacity of Flash storage increased at a rapid rate, the network became a performance bottleneck for traditional database platforms and Exadata's offloading of database processing into Exadata Storage Servers avoided that problem.

The foundation of Exadata is the Exadata Storage Server[14][1], invented by Oracle to replace the traditional storage array. Also important is Oracle's ownership of all the main software and hardware components of Exadata, enabling changes to be deeply integrated and released in coordinated fashion. A further benefit for customers is the ability to support the entire Exadata platform from one vendor.

Oracle Exadata X8 Overview

Software Enhancements

A more detailed listing of software enhancements is below, grouped by their value to Analytics or OLTP workloads, or their impact on Availability. Similar enhancements cannot be duplicated on other platforms because they require software and API modifications and integration across database software, operating systems, networking and storage.
Refer to the Exadata documentation[17] and Data Sheet[1] for descriptions of these features.

Automatically parallelize and offload data scans to storage
Filter rows in storage based on 'where' clause
Filter rows in storage based on columns selected
JSON and XML offload
Filter rows in storage based on join with other table
Hybrid Columnar Compression
Storage Index data skipping
IO Resource Management by user, query, service, DB
Automatic transformation to columnar format in Flash Cache
Smart Flash Cache for table scans
Offload index fast full scans
Offload scans on encrypted data, with FIPS compliance
Storage offload for LOBs and CLOBs
Storage offload for min/max operations
Data Mining offload
All ports active InfiniBand messaging
Reverse offload to DB servers if storage CPUs are busy
Database In-Memory automatic memory population/depopulation
In-Memory support for external tables
In-Memory optimized arithmetic
Automatics statistic and indexing

Innovating With The Oracle Platform for Data Science and Big Data

Instant detection of node or cell failure
In-Memory Fault Tolerance
Sub-second failover of IO on stuck disk or flash
Offload backups to storage servers
Exadata data validation (H.A.R.D.)
Instant data file creation
Prioritize rebalance of critical files
Automatic hard disk scrub and repair
Power cycle failed drives to eliminate false drive failures
Avoid reading predictive failed disks
Cell software transparent restart
Flash and disk life cycle management alert
Confinement of temporarily poor performing drives
Prevent shutdown if mirror server is down
Automatic Software Updates on an entire "fleet" of Exadata systems with one operation
Hot pluggable Flash cards
Keep standby database consistent when NO FORCE logging is used
Fast, secure eraser of disk and Flash
Advanced Intrusion Detection Environment (AIDE) detects and alerts when unknown
                changes to system software are made
Automatic monitoring of CPU, network and memory using Machine Learning

Oracle Database Availability & Scalability Across Versions & Editions

Database Aware PCI Flash
Exadata Smart Flash Logging
Write-back Flash Cache
IO Prioritization by DB, user, or workload to ensure QoS
Direct-to-Wire Protocol
Network Resource Management
EXAchk full-stack validation
Full-stack security scanning
NVMe flash interface for lowest latency IO
Active AWR includes storage stats for end to end monitoring
Database scoped security
Cell-to-cell rebalance preserving flash cache
In-Memory commit cache
Memory optimized OLTP and IoT lookups
Automatics statistic and indexing

Oracle RAC 19c - the Basis for the Autonomous Database

A Quick Introduction to Oracle Exadata X8

Database Software

Exadata compute servers run the Oracle Linux 7.6 operating system and Oracle Database 11g Release 2 Enterprise Edition through Oracle Database 19c Enterprise Edition. Exadata system resources can be optionally virtualized using the Xen-based Oracle VM. All Oracle Database options, such as Real Application Clusters, Multitenant, Database In-Memory, Advanced Compression, Advanced Security, Partitioning, Active Data Guard and others are optionally available with Exadata. Applications that are certified to a supported version of the Oracle Database are automatically compatible with Exadata. No additional modifications or certifications are required[18].

The same database software that runs on Exadata on-premises will run in the Exadata Cloud Service and Exadata Cloud at Customer. In addition, on-premises software licenses are eligible for the BYOL[19] (Bring Your Own License) transfer into the Oracle Cloud or Cloud at Customer.

Exadata X8 - Was ist neu?


Exadata provides high-speed networks for internal and external connectivity. A 40 gigabits per second (40 Gbit/s) InfiniBand network is used for internal connectivity between compute and storage servers and 25, 10 and 1 Gbit/s Ethernet ports are included for data center connectivity. The InfiniBand network is also used as the cluster interconnect between compute servers.

Exadata uses a custom-designed, database-oriented protocol over the InfiniBand network to achieve higher performance. It makes extensive use of remote direct memory access (RDMA) to improve efficiency by avoiding data copies when moving data between servers. Exadata also has a direct-to-wire protocol[20] that allows the database to "talk" directly to the InfiniBand hardware, bypassing the operating system.

Exadata also takes advantage of InfiniBand Lanes[21] in its Network Resource Management[15] feature to prioritize important traffic across the network. In this feature the Oracle Database software tags network messages that require low latency, such as transaction commits, lock messages and IO operations issued by interactive users, enabling them to bypass messages issued by less critical high-throughput workloads such as reporting and batch. The result is analogous to how an emergency vehicle with its siren on is able to move more quickly through heavy traffic - high-priority network messages are moved to the front of the server, network switch, and storage queues, bypassing lower-priority messages and resulting in shorter and more predictable response times.

Best practices to maximize the ROI on your Oracle Exadata investment.

Database Server Components of Oracle Exadata Database Machine X8-8

Oracle Exadata Database Machine X8-8 database servers include the following components:

8x 24-core Intel(R) Xeon(R) Platinum 8268 Processors (2.9GHz)
3TB (48 x 64 GB) RAM, expandable to 6 TB (96 x 64 GB) with memory expansion kit
2 x 6.4TB flash accelerator PCIe cards (Hot-Pluggable)
8 x InfiniBand 4X QDR (40 Gbps) ports (PCIe 3.0) - all ports active
8x 1/10 GbE Base-T Ethernet ports (8 embedded ports based on the Intel 722 1/10GbE Controller)
8x 10GbE/25GbE Ethernet SFP28 Ports (4 Dual-port 10/25 GbE PCIe 3.0 network card based on the Broadcom BCM57414 10Gb/25Gb Ethernet Controller technology)
1 Ethernet port for Integrated Lights Out Manager (ILOM) for remote management
Redundant hot swappable power supplies and fans

Oracle Big Data Architecture

Evolution of Exadata

Oracle Corporation releases a new generation of Exadata every twelve to eighteen months[39][40][41][42][43][44][45][46][47]. At each release, Oracle refreshes most hardware components to the latest Intel Xeon processors, memory, disk, flash and networking. The hardware refreshes in themselves result in performance increases with every release. Exadata software is also refreshed with each generation and periodically in between, enhancing some combination of performance, availability, security, management and workload consolidation. In October 2015, features to support the Oracle Cloud were introduced[48].

The emphasis of each Exadata generation is described below.

Exadata V1[39], released in 2008, focused on accelerating Data Warehousing by delivering the full throughput of storage to the database. Per Oracle, Exadata achieved this by moving database filtering operations into storage, instead of sending all data to the compute servers and filtering it there. Oracle refers to this capability as Exadata Smart Scan[49][50]. Exadata V1 also supported a consolidation feature for allocating IO bandwidth between databases or workloads, called IORM (IO Resource Manager)[51].

Exadata V1 was available in Full Rack or Half Rack sizes, and the choice of High Performance or High Capacity storage servers.

Exadata V2[40][52][53], released in 2009, added a Quarter Rack configuration and support for OLTP workloads via Flash storage and database-aware Flash Caching.[54]

Exadata V2 also introduced Hybrid Columnar Compression[55] to reduce the amount of storage consumed by large Data Warehousing tables.

Storage Indexes[56] in Exadata V2 increased performance by eliminating the need to read entire regions of storage, based on knowledge of the data contained in the region.

Exadata X2-2[26], the third generation, was released in 2010 and a second model of Exadata, Exadata X2-8[41], was introduced. The X2-8 and subsequent “8 socket” Exadata models feature Intel processors targeted at large memory, scale-up workloads. The use of Flash storage beyond caching began in this release with a Smart Flash Logging[57][58] feature. Support for 10 Gigabit per second (Gb/sec) Ethernet connectivity was also added.

Data security through encryption was encouraged with the incorporation of hardware decryption[59] in Exadata X2-2, largely eliminating the performance overhead compared to software decryption.

A Storage Expansion Rack[60] based on Exadata X2-2 was added in 2011 to accommodate large, fast-growing Data Warehouses and archival databases. All subsequent 2-socket Exadata generations have included a new Storage Expansion Rack.

Exadata X3-2[42][61][27] and X3-8[33] were released in 2012, including a new Eighth Rack X3-2 entry-level configuration. Flash storage capacity quadrupled and OLTP write throughput reportedly increased by 20x via the Write-Back Flash Cache[62] feature.

A number of availability enhancements were added, bypassing slow or failed storage media[63], reducing the duration of storage server brownouts and simplifying replacement of failed disks.

Exadata X4-2[43][28] was released in 2013. Flash capacity doubled and Flash compression was added, effectively doubling capacity again. Network Resource Management[15] was introduced, automatically prioritizing critical messages. InfiniBand bandwidth doubled with support for active/active connections.

Exadata X4-8[34] released in 2014, plus Capacity on Demand[64] licensing, IO latency capping and timeout thresholds.

Exadata X5-2[44][29] and X5-8[35] were released in 2015 with a major set of enhancements. Flash and disk capacity doubled. Elastic configurations[65] were introduced to enable expansion one server at a time. Virtualization was added as an option to Exadata along with Trusted Partitions[66] for flexible licensing within a virtual machine. Database snapshots[67] on Exadata storage enabled efficient development and testing. Oracle Database In-Memory on Exadata included Fault Tolerant[68][69]redundancy. The High Performance Exadata storage servers were replaced with all-Flash (Extreme Performance) storage servers and Exadata became the first major vendor to adopt the NVMe Flash interface. Columnar Flash cache was introduced to automatically reformat analytics data into row format in Flash. IPv6 support was completed. Exadata Cloud Service[48][70] was launched on the Oracle Cloud.

Exadata X6-2[45][30] and X6-8[36] were released in 2016. Flash capacity doubled. Exafusion Direct-to-Wire protocol[71] reduced messaging overhead in a cluster and Smart Fusion Block Transfer[72] eliminated log write delays for OLTP applications in a cluster. Exadata Cloud at Customer[73][9] debuted, enabling Oracle Cloud benefits within corporate data centers.

Exadata X7-2[46] and X7-8 were released in 2017[74]. Flash capacity doubled. Flash cards became Hot pluggable for online replacement. 10 Terabyte (TB) disk drives debuted along with 25 Gb/sec Ethernet connectivity. Oracle Database In-Memory processing was extended into Flash storage, and storage server DRAM was utilized for faster OLTP.

Imagery Data with Oracle Spatial Technologies Karin Patenge

Exadata X8-2 [47]and X8-8 were released in 2019. Exadata Storage Server Extended (XT) was introduced for low-cost storage of infrequently accessed data.14 Terabyte (TB) disk drives debuted along with 60% more compute cores in Exadata storage servers. Machine Learning algorithms were added to automatically monitor CPU, network and memory to detect anomalies such as stuck processes, memory leaks and flaky networks, and to automatically create (Auto index), rebuild or drop indexes. Optimizer statistics are also gathered in real-time as DML executes. For enhanced security, Advanced Intrusion Detection Environment (AIDE) was added to detect and alert when unknown changes to system software are made.

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