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What the Oracle Exalytics X4-4 Launch Means for Oracle Customers
Posted on September 25, 2014
Author: Andy Tauro, Performance Architects

Oracle recently released the next generation of the X4-4 Exalytics In-Memory Engineering System (X=Intel, ‘-4’ = 4 physical processors).  While X4-4 now comes with two terabytes (TB) of RAM, 2.4 TB of PCIe Flash disk, networking hardware upgrades, and the option to use Oracle 12c In-Memory Database, the most noteworthy change is the switch to Intel’s E7-8895v2 processors.

You might ask, “What’s the big deal about the processors, especially since most of the time server CPUs do not run at 100%?” and “Why do I need faster processors? How will they help make a case for moving to Exalytics from my existing infrastructure?”  In short, this new breed of processors from Intel can vary the number of effective CPU cores on the machine and tweak the clock frequency without having to reboot the machine. Does this sound like too much tech-talk? Let me explain.

Firstly, the E7-8895v2 is a new class of Xeon processors from Intel that has been customized for Oracle. Each processor has 15 cores that run at 2.8 GHz, with a maximum turbo-boosted 3.6 GHz. The X4-4 has 4 of them, giving a total count of 60 CPU cores (20 more than before). More importantly, due to this new processor, the X4-4 can vary the total CPU cores between eight and 60. This is because the E7-8895v2 processor can act as a chip in a different configuration. So instead of running 15 cores at 2.8 GHz, it could act as two cores at 4 GHz, or six cores at 3.6 GHz, and so on.

Fancy talk aside, you might still be wondering how this can help you. Typically the TimesTen In-Memory Database cache and Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition 11g (OBIEE), among other products, are licensed PER CPU CORE. So when X2-4 and X3-4 came out, with 40 cores apiece, customers who were moving existing licenses to Exalytics had to work out some bridge deals. For example, some of our customers who looking to move their existing solutions that were licensed for a 12-core machine to Exalytics had to get a revised licensing agreement to comply with a 40-core machine.

With the X4-4, you can choose to have the machine running with much lesser core count, and pay for only what you need. The possible benefit is that the lesser core count could have the cores (theoretically) running at a higher frequency, so could do things faster.

In addition, since Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Suite (BIFS or BIF) was a required purchase with an Exalytics machine, customers looking to host only Oracle Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) on an Exalytics machine had to work this additional purchase into the deal. BIFS is no longer a required purchase with an Exalytics X4-4, giving the choice to the customer to purchase this product, or to have the option of spending the money on additional products and/or seats for existing licensed products.

We are not sure at this time how this variable core performance and its pricing will affect products like Oracle Enterprise Performance Management (EPM or Hyperion) and Oracle Endeca Information Discovery (OEID) that can be co-deployed with BIFS. It looks like Oracle is revising the product to make it easier than ever to move a customer solution onto Exalytics, and it is unlikely that it will adversely affect you. In either case, this is one more reason to look forward to Oracle OpenWorld this upcoming week. If you are going, feel free to look out for us there; more information on our participation at OpenWorld is available here.

Look forward to more from us on the Exalytics X4-4, as more information becomes available on it.

Author: Andrew Tauro, Performance Architects


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