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What to Like in the New Oracle Exalytics X3-4
Posted on July 17, 2013
Author: Andy Tauro, Performance Architects

If you missed it, Oracle recently launched a revised Exalytics In-Memory Machine, versioned X3-4. This is a version to get excited about! “What’s the big deal,” you ask?

To recap, the X2 version was powered by four Intel Xeon E7-4800 series, providing a total of 40 cores, 1 TB of primary memory (also known as RAM), and 3.6 TB of hard disk space comprised of 6 SAS-2 600 GB 10,000 RPM drives. To allow all that data to move in and out of this beast quickly, Oracle threw in two 40 GB/s InfiniBand ports, four 10/100/1000 Base-T, and two 10 Gbps Ethernet ports. The InfiniBand ports allowed for a very high-speed channel for moving data between an Exalytics machine and an Exadata supporting machine (if available), allowing for scalability.

All of this hardware powered Oracle’s Business Intelligence Foundation Suite (BIF) of BI tools which was enhanced to take advantage of the large memory and disk capacity, as well as making the best of all those cores. Additionally, an Oracle TimesTen In-Memory Database instance provided a high-speed in-memory cache to facilitate analysis to go with the Oracle Essbase multi-dimensional database that comes with the BIF suite.

While these specifications are nothing to sneeze at, to keep pace with and ahead of the growing needs of its customers, Oracle decided it was time to up their game. The 64 sticks of 16 GB DDR3 RAM that powered X2-4 have been replaced with 64 sticks of 32 GB equivalents to provide a total capacity of 2 TB of RAM. This effectively doubles the capacity to run in-memory caches to speed up data retrieval. To provide a further boost, there are now six 400 GB PCIe-based Flash drives that provide 2.4 TB of high-speed disk space when you run out of all that primary memory. And those six SAS-2 magnetic disk drives? They have also gotten a size boost to 900 GB each, now providing a total of 5.4 TB of additional disk space.

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On the software front, in addition to Oracle Business Intelligence Foundation Suite (BIF or BIFS), Oracle Enterprise Performance Management (EPM) is now certified for Exalytics. Yes, that means the latest version of Oracle EPM (Hyperion) is now officially integrated with Oracle BI. We covered this integration in an earlier blog post, “Oracle EPM (Hyperion) and OBIEE Integration Actually Works: Best in Class, Even Better Together.”

Oracle, however, did not get around to upgrading the processors on this machine. They still run the four Intel Xeon E7-4800 “Westmere-EX” (“EX” meaning “Extreme Edition”) series CPUs, with a total of 40 cores. While these are not under-powered by any yard-stick (SAP HANA “appliances” also run on similar cores), there are talks of switching to “Ivy Bridge-EX” based Xeon X7 in the fourth quarter. Such information ought to be taken with a grain of salt, as there has been no such announcement from Oracle, and Intel is expected to release the desktop-equivalents of these no earlier than September 2013. So for now, these chips are still among the best out there. Just what your applications need!

Author: Andy Tauro, Performance Architects

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