Oracle Exadata X4 database machine – software insights

December 6, 2013 by Leave a comment 

The newest Oracle Exadata Database Machine X4 is available for ordering! After I reviewed in my last article some hardware insights of Oracle Exadata X4, let’s talk about the software options, improvements and new features that will be available soon in the new Exadata.

If you order an Oracle Exadat X4 system you can choose between two Oracle database versions: 11g or 12c.  The relevant database version will be pre-installed by Oracle Advanced Customer Support (ACS) Services with additional Grid infrastructure software including Oracle ASM and RAC. Prerequisite is that you have enough database and RAC licenses.

Oracle Exadata X4 Machine will be delivered with the new Exadata software version 11.2.3.3.0 that provides the following major capabilities:

– Automatic Flash compression on X3 and X4 systems
– Improved support for consolidation of multiple databases
– Many management improvements
– Many robustness and availability improvements

See below some major new Exadata software featurues that are going to be incorporated to the new X4 machines.

Exadata Flash Cache Compression

Exadata will use compression to expand Smart Flash Cache. The data will automatically be compressed as it is written to flash cache and automatically decompressed when it is read out of flash cache. Oracle promises up to 2X more data fits in smart flash cache, so flash hit rates

and performance will improve for large data sets. We should not forget the Flash cache compress/decompress mechanism is implemented in hardware. Note, that Flash cache compression does not change DB format, so does not impact backups, buffer cache, network, scan rates, etc.  As a result Oracle Exadata X4 with Flash Cache compression will store over 80TB of data in flash – up to 4X more than X3. Since the amount of data cached in Exadata Smart Flash Cache will grow and shrink dynamically and automatically based on data compressibility, the exact compression ratio will vary.

Exadata Smart Flash Table Caching

With this new feature that I would call Smarter flash caching for large table scans, Exadata software will understand database table and partition scans and automatically cache then when it makes sense. This will avoid thrashing flash cache when tables are too big or scanned infrequently or scanned by maintenance jobs. If a scanned table is larger than flash, the subset of table will be cached. With this new approach there will be no need manually to “KEEP” tables that are only scanned.

Note, that the Flash Cache Compression will require Advanced Compression Option on all databases that access compressed flash cache (therefore not enabled by default).

Exadata Network Resource Management

This new completely automatic and transparent feature should be able to maintain steady network performance (from database to InfiniBand card through InfiniBand switches to storage) by uniquely prioritizing critical database messages through the entire fabric. The new algorithm will prioritize latency sensitive messages over batch, reporting, and backup messages. Log file writes for example will have highest priority to ensure low latency transactions.

Exadata Smart File Initialization

With this new feature Oracle wants database file creation to speed up by an order of magnitude. It should happen automatically, no tuning needed.

New InfiniBand switch firmware (2.1.3-4)

The new firmware will bring also some nice improvements including Automatic Service Request (ASR) for InfiniBand switches.

Management Enhancements

– Alert email reminder
– ILOM hang detection and automatic reset
– DBNodeUpdate
– More robust patching

Operating System Updates in 11.2.3.3.0

– Oracle Linux distribution updated to 5.9
– Linux kernel updated to UEK2 kernel (2.6.39-400)
– Oracle Solaris updated to S11 Update 1 SRU 9

So hopefully many of you are excited now about Oracle Exadata hardware and software enhancements in the new X4 Database Machine taking into account that the price on the new system will stay on the same level as on Exadata X3.

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