Exadata X8: extreme performance and reliability in the execution of the most critical databases

Last April, Oracle launched Exadata X8, the latest update of its optimized database execution machine that includes very significant improvements, both in terms of hardware and software. Exadata X8 is designed to achieve extreme performance and reliability in the execution of the most critical customer databases.

The most relevant improvements from the hardware point of view are the update of the processors, both in the compute nodes and in the storage cells, the inclusion of larger capacity disks and the introduction of a new storage cell, the Storage Server Extended (XT).

 

New compute nodes incorporate the Intel Xeon 8260 processor (Cascade Lake) with 24 cores at 2.4 GHz, replacing the Intel Xeon 8160 with 24 cores at 2.1 GHz of the X7 version. This provides a slight improvement in performance, but an additional point to keep in mind is that the new processors incorporate protection against Spectre and Meltdown malware, which eliminates the overhead that required patches in previous versions introduced.

Processors in the storage nodes have also been updated, using Intel Xeon 5218 (Cascade Lake) with 16 cores at 2.3 GHz. This provides 60% more cores than the X7 version for offloading work from the compute nodes, which results in a very important increase in disk access performance, both in terms of throughput and IOPS.

 

Storage cells are now equipped with 14 TB disks, which offer 40% more capacity than the 10 TB disks in the previous version. Here, we must bear in mind that the software of the cells is licensed by the number of disks, which makes the licenses 40% more effective. Oracle also offers the possibility of changing the disks in the Exadata storage servers in X4 and later generation Exadata with these new disks, offering a much higher capacity with only the cost of acquiring the additional disks and without needing to acquire more licenses. For this swap, the firmware version 19.2 of Exadata is required and, in certain cases, it can be done in an online rolling fashion (see MOS note 1544637.1).

 

New XT storage cells are designed for data that is not accessed frequently, it is old or it is kept by regulatory requirements. Each cell has 12 discs of 14 TB, but does not include any flash card. Exadata software licenses are optional. The price is much lower than that of the High Capacity or Extreme Flash cells and allows to extend the benefits of Exadata including columnar compression, access to the infiniband network and the security model to scenarios where previously it was not a feasible option from an economic point of view. In addition, they eliminate the need to configure an additional Tier 2 storage system for this type of data, easing unified management.

 

 

Simultaneously to the announcement of the hardware update, version 19.2.0.0 of the Exadata system software has been released, which includes support for version 19c of the database and numerous improvements in management, performance and security. This version is available for all supported versions of Exadata.

 

Specifically, it incorporates more secure and faster configurations of Oracle Linux and Oracle VM, an advanced intrusion detection system (Advanced Intrusion Detection Environment -> AIDE) that detects and launches alerts if there have been changes in the system software and automatic CPU, memory and communications monitoring, using machine learning algorithms, to detect any anomalous behavior.

 

With this new version, Oracle reaffirms its commitment to Exadata and continues to position it as the best infrastructure for the deployment of database workloads with the most demanding requirements in terms of performance, availability and security.

 

The complete product specification can be found in the Exadata X8 Datasheet

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