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Oracle Picks Sun Over HP for Exadata 2 Servers

Oracle on Tuesday announced the next generation of its Exadata servers for data warehousing, touting a new hardware supplier, Sun Microsystems, that replaces Hewlett-Packard, the supplier of the first generation of servers.

Oracle (NASDAQ: ORCL) CEO Larry Ellison made no mention of the interminable regulatory process that has stretched on for five months and hung up its plans to have its purchase of Sun officially sealed. Ellison also said nothing about his former Exadata hardware partner HP. HP (NYSE: HPQ) had no comment on being jilted by Oracle.

The focus was on what the new Exadata servers could do, and if they are as fast as he is boasting, they will do a lot. The first generation of Exadata servers handled data warehousing and did it very fast. Ellison cited one customer that said queries dropped from 24 hours to 30 minutes.

"Version one wasn't a bad effort," he said during a presentation at Oracle headquarters and broadcast on the Internet. "It was the fastest database machine in the world. It was designed for what you have to do for data warehousing: sequential reads. It read vast amounts of data and returned answers very quickly."

Version two will do warehousing queries twice as fast, but now it also runs online transaction processing (OLTP).

The compute servers are Sun's Sunfire x4170 rack mounted servers, dual Xeon 5500-based 1U servers with 72GB of memory each. With the new Nehalem processors, the Exadata 2 uses DDR3 memory, which Oracle claims is 200 percent faster than the FBDIMM used in Exadata 1 systems. Disk performance is 50 percent faster than the prior version thanks to 600GB serial-attached SCSI (SAS) disks.

Four terabytes of flash cache

The also come with a large flash cache, but Ellison stressed they were not flash disks, just a memory hierarchy made of DRAM and flash. A fully populated cabinet can hold up to 4TB of flash cache.

The storage servers are Sun's Sunfire X4275 2U rack mounted servers with Xeon processors as well and up to 12TB of storage. Both servers were announced this past April.

There is also compression used throughout the system, from lighter, 10x compression in the query cache to heavy duty, 50x compression in the archival system. Up to 15 terabytes of database information can be compressed and stored in flash memory alone.

A cabinet can hold up to eight compute servers, for 64 cores of compute power and 400GB of DRAM. The cabinet can also hold 14 storage servers for a total of 336TB of raw data. It uses Infiniband switching as well providing what Ellison said is 880 gigabits of throughput per second.

On the software side, the hardware, the hardware comes with FlashFire technology from Sun for high speed flash scalability, Oracle Database 11g Release 2 and Oracle Exadata Storage Server Software Release 11.2.

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