Oracle Database Server Combines OLTP, Data Warehouse Abilities

Database data warehousing processing

The system is based on server hardware from Sun Microsystems, which Oracle is in the process of acquiring for $7.4 billion. That apparently leaves Hewlett-Packard, which provided the hardware for the first generation of the Exadata system, out of the picture.

But the move demonstrates Oracle's commitment to Sun's server and storage hardware. Some have questioned whether Oracle, primarily a software company, would continue to develop Sun's hardware technology after the acquisition.

"Version one wasn't a bad effort. It was the fastest database machine in the world," said Oracle CEO Larry Ellison in a Webcast, speaking of the original Exadata system that debuted at Oracle OpenWorld last year. But he said the capabilities of the new Sun Oracle Exadata Database Machine Version 2 far surpass the older system in performance, in addition to its ability to perform both OLTP and data warehousing tasks.

Data warehousing and OLTP applications place very different demands on a computer, and designing one system to do both is a challenge. Data warehouses analyze large volumes of data and require lots of number-crunching capacity, while OLTP systems process thousands, even millions of transactions per second and place huge demands on a computer's input/output (I/O) subsystems.

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The first Exadata system was primarily designed for data warehousing applications, putting it in the same class as systems from Teradata and Netezza. Ellison said the new system doubles the data warehouse processing speed of the first system, in addition to the new OLTP capabilities that can handle 1 million random I/O transactions per second.

"We can do both and we do both very well," Ellison said.

The addition of Sun's FlashFire solid-state drive technology, which Oracle is calling Exadata Smart Flash Cache, is what gives the system its high-performance OLTP ability. The system uses Intel Xeon 5500 Series processors, 40-Gbps InfiniBand interconnect technology and Oracle's new 11g Release 2 database software. The system is fault-tolerant and is expandable by adding processing and data storage modules.

The price for a basic Exadata Database Machine Version 2, which Ellison also called a "quarter rack," is $110,000, while a "full rack" system carries a price tag of $1.1 million.