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Oracle, Sun launch high-end OLTP server

By James Niccolai
September 15, 2009 08:49 PM ET

IDG News Service - Oracle has launched a high-end database and storage system that it co-developed with Sun Microsystems, the companies' first joint product since announcing their plans to merge almost five months ago.

Called the Exadata Database Machine Version 2, it combines Intel-based servers and other Sun hardware with Oracle's database and storage management software in a rack-based system optimized for enterprise data warehousing and high-speed online transaction processing (OLTP).

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison unveiled the product on a webcast Tuesday from Oracle's California headquarters, where he was joined by John Fowler, executive vice president in charge of Sun's systems business. The system uses an unusually large amount of flash memory -- up to 5TB in a fully loaded rack -- to achieve high levels of OLTP performance, Ellison said.

Neither of the executives made any reference to the companies' pending merger, which Oracle had hoped to close by now but which has been held up by competition regulators in Europe. Nor did they disclose any more information about which Sun products Oracle will support or discontinue if the merger goes through.

The system that launched Tuesday uses Linux, rather than Sun Solaris, and Intel-type processors, rather than Sun's Ultrasparc T2 chips, as some had expected. But Oracle has pledged to support Sun's Sparc platform in the future.

The Exadata system is a follow-on to a similar product that Oracle developed last year with Hewlett-Packard. Both systems combine database servers, storage servers and networking in a rack-based system preconfigured with Oracle's software.

The first Exadata system was for data warehousing only, Ellison said, while Exadata 2 is for both data warehousing and online transaction processing. "Exadata Version 1 was the world’s fastest machine for data warehousing applications,” he said. “Exadata Version 2 is twice as fast as Exadata Version 1 for data warehousing, and it’s the only database machine that runs OLTP applications."

The first version was based on HP's Intel-based ProLiant G5 servers, while the new machine uses Sun Fire X4275 servers with Intel's quad-core Nehalem processors. It also uses a faster memory type, DDR3, and faster disk and InfiniBand components, Ellison said, explaining the performance boost over the first Exadata.

But the main advance is a new flash-based memory system from Sun that is used in the storage servers. Called FlashFire, it packs four flash accelerator cards into each storage server, each with a capacity of 96GB. A fully loaded rack with eight storage servers has 5TB of flash memory, as well as 100TB of SAS disk capacity or 336TB of SATA disk capacity, Ellison said.

"We have a huge, fast flash cache built into our storage servers," Ellison said. "These are not flash disks -- make no mistake, these are not flash disks. This is a smart memory hierarchy made up of DRAM in our database servers and flash in our storage servers, with very sophisticated algorithms. This is a very smart memory hierarchy where the Oracle software manages that memory extremely efficiently, much faster than flash disk."

Reprinted with permission from Story copyright 2014 International Data Group. All rights reserved.
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