Oracle unveils new servers using the NVM Express standard
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December 5, 2014
Oracle has unveiled two new servers using the NVM Express standard that does away with SAS/SATA
disk controllers in a manner the database giant says that it makes them perform better.
The new servers are called the X5-2 and the X5-2L. Both are two-socket machines and utilize
Intel's Xeon E5-2600 v3 silicon.
The X5-2 is a 1U small server and the X5-2L's form factor lets it stack horizontally or vertically
into a 2U chassis.
The interesting part is NVM Express (NVMe) which Oracle says will “improve the bandwidth to
each flash drive by over 2.5 times, compared to conventional SSDs by eliminating the SAS/SATA
controller from the path completely.”
Oracle says it's built “four PCIe lanes directly to the NVM Express SSD itself” and it can therefore
“provide 32 Gb/sec bandwidth to each drive.”
However, this won't work for just any old SSD-- you still need an Oracle NVMe-ready SSD,
of which four will fit into a conventional 2.5 in drive bay.
NVMe requires an enabling kit that consumes a PCIe slot. The new technology is installed in
four drive bays, and can still address up to 6.4 TB of storage in each bay.
NVMe is a standard, so Oracle's not out on its own here. But it clearly believes NVMe delivers
the best possible performance for its own software.
The new servers are sold as optimized for Oracle apps and Oracle virtualization.
Optimizations include something called “Database Smart Flash Cache” that “keeps recently
accessed data warm in flash storage, reducing the chance that the database needs to fetch the
data from slower magnetic media that may be directly attached or resident on a NAS/SAN fabric.”
It's also possible to add NVMe SSDs to a ZFS hybrid storage pool, and treat the special Oracle
flash as a tier.
These new servers seem to have the same strategic intent as many other recently-revealed or
hypercovnerged rigs, namely to provide a system optimized for certain workloads.
But Oracle hasn't gone as far with the X5-2 and the X5-2L as it has with its current SPARC
servers, which are also unashamedly optimized for their own software.
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