Oracle has announced the latest name for its database machine family – the Exadata X10M. Specifically engineered at the source code level for the Oracle database environment, this Exadata generation is the first generation based on AMD’s EPYC server processors. What is the importance of this platform? And what does this mean for database performance? I’ll break it down into the following sections.
Before getting into Oracle’s announcement, it’s worth spending a paragraph or two setting the context on Exadata. Oracle’s Exadata platform incorporates hardware and software co-engineered with Oracle Database and optimized to support enterprise data management. If you’re an enterprise IT professional looking to deploy and maintain a database environment to support analytics as well as traditional online transaction processing (OLTP) workloads, you understand the struggle involved. Finding perfectly tuned servers and maintaining that environment can seem impossible. And that doesn’t even account for the new database types populating the enterprise—graph, spatial, JSON.
That’s where Exadata enters the equation. Oracle has used its decades of experience deploying data management platforms in the largest enterprises to design killer database servers, or what it calls database machines. In doing so, it created a complete, full stack system with the lowest latency and fastest processors, memory, and storage. Even better, it complemented this hardware with system software that managed how data was stored, indexed, and transferred. If you’ve ever wondered why Oracle would have a Linux distribution—this is it. The company has modified and optimized each lever to deliver a database machine that is unmatched in performance.
Looking under the covers of the Exadata X10M, a data-tuned hardware platform
Considering how much time and effort Oracle has put into Exadata, it only makes sense that the company would leverage the server components that can deliver the greatest performance (and value) for its database environments. You can see in the graph below how the company has continued to deliver value generation after generation.
With the Exadata X10M, the innovation continues. The X10M story begins at the processor level, where Oracle designed its platform around AMD’s fourth-generation EPYC CPUs. There are several direct benefits to this design decision besides just more (and better performing) cores. The database server features up to 3TB of DDR5 memory across 12 memory channels with 96 multithreaded cores, critical cache, and PCIe5 I/O to boost system-level performance.
The Exadata database server is connected to the storage via an RDMA over converged Ethernet (ROCE) switch. It is a high-speed (100Gbps) connection that provides the lowest latency and highest bandwidth as it bypasses the operating system and network stack.
Based on what I just described, you can see that Exadata X10M is not just about using EPYC as CPU. Beyond the hardware, Oracle has optimized its entire software stack to enable a linear scale in performance across so many additional cores. In addition, the company optimized its RDMA and in-memory columnar algorithms to take full advantage of AMD’s memory management and AVX instruction sets. I call these out specifically to demonstrate the Oracle engineering team’s ability to squeeze every bit of performance out of EPYC’s 96 cores and 3TB of memory.
Oracle’s optimizations don’t just apply to getting the most out of EPYC. The company has recently released several other optimizations to improve Exadata in terms of performance, security, and ease of management.
How this design translates into peak performance
The numbers don’t lie. In the case of the Exadata X10M, the numbers are extreme. Oracle’s Value Prop for Exadata focuses on OLTP performance, analytics and database consolidation. And the value customers receive in three focus areas is the result of joint engineering between Oracle and AMD. (Note that these performance claims are in comparison to the previous Exadata generation, the X9M).
What I like about the data published by Oracle is that it highlights something I mentioned earlier: the superior results achieved by Oracle working with AMD to deliver the best possible performance. It’s about much more than just more cores, memory or cache. If this were the case, these numbers would not increase as much as shown.
Oracle claims that the Exadata X10M is far more performant than its competitors at a lower cost. I understand its claims. It is the only company with decades of experience in providing both enterprise database software and database hardware solutions. This level of ability to build a customized data management platform is probably unique to Oracle.
on-premises or in the cloud
How do customers consume Exadata? It is up to them. On-premises, in the cloud, on-premises as a cloud service—it doesn’t matter. Hey, customers can even run it in multi-cloud deployments.
I particularly like the way Oracle Cloud Infrastructure works to coordinate with Microsoft Azure in creating a dedicated, high-speed interconnect. This allows customers to keep their apps in Azure while data resides in the Exadata Database Service or autonomous databases on OCI. The performance is incredible, and it comes without the high entry/exit fees associated with other multi-cloud deployments.
Oracle continues to drive innovation around its core cloud database products. In the years that I was an IT executive, I was constantly faced with having to do more, faster with less budget. That was in the early days of business process automation and digitization of services, but this set of challenges hasn’t gone away since I left IT. In fact, it’s bigger than ever. Demands rise and the budget shrinks even further.
Exadata appears to be an obvious choice for IT organizations that face the pressure of doing too much with too little. Up to 3X the transaction throughput and 3.6X the analytics performance with no cost increase? The Exadata X10M is a business agility grand slam and a TCO no-brainer.
I’ve said it before: This is a new Oracle. It appears that the company is focusing on providing products and services to customers on their terms and in a much more affordable manner than before. For the Exadata X10M, this means extreme scale, performance and value. The company is clearly in growth mode with its cloud and database services and has learned a few things from its past — and from watching competitors and partners make this transition.
As always, I’ll be checking back in a few quarters to see how the X10M fares in the market. I expect strong adoption considering some of the largest financial, telecommunications and retail businesses run on Exadata.
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