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Oracle: New Exadata X8M Platform Soars With Intel Optane Memory

'Oracle and Intel have integrated cutting-edge persistent memory technologies into the leading enterprise database machine to deliver real-time access to the most mission-critical data,' Oracle exec Juan Loaiza says of the new Exadata X8M platform.

Oracle said its new Exadata X8M server platform is "the fastest database machine in the world," thanks to the use of Intel's Optane DC persistent memory and second-generation Xeon Scalable processors.

In a joint announcement at Oracle OpenWorld 2019 on Monday, Oracle said its new Exadata X8M server platform will incorporate Intel's Optane DC persistent memory and second-generation Xeon Scalable processors to accelerate performance for Oracle Autonomous Database, Oracle Cloud applications and high-performance database infrastructure. Exadata X8M is available on-premises or through Oracle Cloud.

[Related: Jason Kimrey: Intel’s Data-Centric Platform Strategy Is A Winning Hand For Partners]

The announcement is another win in the data center market for Intel, which is fighting off increased competition from AMD and other companies in part by expanding its portfolio of products to address a growing variety of workloads. One of the new products critical to that strategy is Optane DC persistent memory, which combines the persistent qualities of storage with performance that nearly rivals DRAM.

Oracle called the Exadata X8M a "first-of-its-kind integration" that will provide "superior performance" for a variety of latency-sensitive applications, including high-frequency stock trading, IoT data processing, real-time fraud and intrusion detection and financial trading.

Thanks to Intel's memory module, Xeon Scalable processors and software optimizations, the new server platform was able to achieve record speed of 16 million input/output operations per second for online transaction processing, according to Oracle.

"Our collaboration with Intel sets a new industry standard for supporting databases with the highest performance and availability," Juan Loaiza, executive vice president of Mission-Critical Database Technologies at Oracle, said in a statement.

Oracle said Exadata X8M's use of Intel Optane DC persistent memory is an outlier in the industry because of how the server platform uses "uses sophisticated remote direct memory access technology to enable the database to directly access persistent memory deployed in smart shared storage servers," bypassing the entire operating system, network and I/O software stack. This allowed Oracle to reduce the I/O latency by a factor of 10 compared to the previous generation of Exadata.

"Oracle and Intel have integrated cutting-edge persistent memory technologies into the leading enterprise database machine to deliver real-time access to the most mission-critical data," Loaiza said. "This transcends the boundaries of conventional shared storage systems and servers that simply cannot keep pace with this level of innovation."

Lisa Spelman, vice president and general manager of Intel Xeon processors and data center marketing, said Intel and Oracle engineers worked side-by-side at Oracle's headquarters in Redwood Shores, Calif. to optimize Exadata X8M for Xeon Scalable processors and Optane DC persistent memory.

"Two areas of focus were accelerating the retrieval of data from the Exadata storage server to the database server, and the rapid persistent logging of transaction records to assure data integrity and resilience," she wrote in a blog post. "The joint engineering team leveraged the Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) features of the Intel platform and Exadata to provide direct access from the database server’s Xeon processors to data stored in the Optane DC persistent memory in the storage servers."

Oracle's support of Intel Optane DC persistent memory is good for the channel, because it helps Intel partners understand how the new technology can be used in real-world deployments, according to Kent Tibbils, vice president of marketing at ASI, an authorized Intel distributor based in Fremont, Calif.

"Sometimes we get lost in the world of gigahertz and this benchmark and that benchmark and what-does-it-all-mean dazzle, but when you can see real-world applications like this, this is great," he said.

Tibbils said ASI's sales for Optane DC persistent memory has been slow so far since the new product launched in April, but he attributed that to a long validation process partners need to go through when considering the technology for new systems. Over time, he said, ecosystem wins like Oracle and SAP will help accelerate adoption.

"As Intel learns the process for validating in these scenarios, it's only going to make it faster for them to work through the process with other customers,” he said.

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