Oracle Exadata Database Machine v2 vs x2-2 vs x2-8 Deathmatch

Posted in: Technical Track

This post has bee updated live from the Oracle OpenWorld as I’m learning what’s new. Last update done on 28-Sep-2010. X2-2 and X2-8 configurations have evolved over time so if you are reading this post now — beware of its age. The referenced data-sheets seems to be up to date though.

Oracle Exadata v2 has been transformed into x2-2 and x2-8. x2-2 is just slightly updated while x2-8 is a much more high-end platform. Please note that Exadata x2-2 is not just an old Exadata v2 — it’s a fully refreshed model. This is a huge confusion here at the OOW and even at the Oracle web site.

The new Exadata pricing list is released and Exadata x2-2 costs exactly the same as old Exadata v2. Exadata x2-8 Full Rack (that’s the only x2-8 configuration — see below why) is priced 50% higher then Full Rack x2-2. This is hardware price only to clarify the confusion (updated 18-Oct-2010).

Exadata Storage Server Software pricing is the same and licensing costs per storage server and per full rack is the same as for Exadata v2 because number of disks didn’t change. Note that storage cells got upgraded but priced the same when it comes to Exadata Server software and hardware. Nice touch but see implications on databases licensing below.

This comparison is for Full-Rack models Exadata x2-2 and x2-8 and existing v2 model.

Finally, data-sheets are available for both x2-2 (Thx Dan Norris for the pointers):

and x2-8:

It means that live update of this post is probably over (27-Sep-2010).

v2 Full Rack x2-2 Full Rack x2-8 Full Rack
Database servers 8 x Sun Fire x4170 1U 8 x Sun Fire x4170 M2 1U 2 x Sun Fire x4800 5U
Database CPUs Xeon E5540 quad core 2.53GHz Xeon X5670 six cores 2.93GHz Xeon X7560 eight cores 2.26GHz
database cores 64 96 128
database RAM 576GB 768GB 2TB
Storage cells 14 x SunFire X4275 14 x SunFire X4270 M2 14 x SunFire X4270 M2
storage cell CPUs Xeon E5540 quad core 2.53GHz Xeon L5640 six cores 2.26GHz Xeon L5640 six cores 2.26GHz
storage cells CPU cores 112 168 168
IO performance & capacity 15K RPM 600GB SAS or 2TB SATA 7.2K RPM disks 15K RPM 600GB SAS (HP model – high performance) or 2TB SAS 7.2K RPM disks (HC model – high capacity)
Note that 2TB SAS are the same old 2 TB drives with new SAS electronics. (Thanks Kevin Closson for ref)
15K RPM 600GB SAS (HP model – high performance) or 2TB SAS 7.2K RPM disks (HC model – high capacity)
Note that 2TB SAS are the same old 2 TB drives with new SAS electronics. (Thanks Kevin Closson for ref)
Flash Cache 5.3TB 5.3TB 5.3TB
Database Servers networking 4 x 1GbE x 8 servers = 32 x 1GbE 4 x 1GbE x 8 servers + 2 x 10GbE x 8 servers = 32 x 1Gb + 16 x 10GbEE 8 x 1GbE x 2 servers + 8 x 10GbE x 2 servers = 16 x 1Gb + 16 x 10GbEE
InfiniBand Switches QDR 40Gbit/s wire QDR 40Gbit/s wire QDR 40Gbit/s wire
InfiniBand ports on database servers (total) 2 ports x 8 servers = 16 ports 2 ports x 8 servers = 16 ports 8 ports x 2 servers = 16 ports
Database Servers OS Oracle Linux only Oracle Linux (possible Solaris later, still unclear) Oracle Linux or Solaris x86

x2-8 has fewer but way bigger database servers. That means that x2-8 will scale better with the less RAC overhead for the databases. The bad news is that if one database server fails or down for maintenance, 50% of capacity is gone. What does that mean? It means that Exadata x2-8 is designed more for multi-rack deployments so that you can go beyond “simple” 2 node RAC. Some folks argue that two node RAC is less reliable for evictions and etc but you probably don’t know that Exadata has special IO fencing mechanism that makes it much more reliable.

Because there is 4 times more RAM in Exadata x2-8, more and more operations can be done fully in memory without even going to storage cells. This is why boost in number of cores / CPU performance is important — since InfniBand bandwidth stays the same, you need some other way to access more data so having more data on buffer cache will keep more CPU cores busy.

With Exadata x2-2, processing capacity on database servers increased and RAM increase is insignificant. So how does it impact “well-balanced” Exadata v2? Well, if more and more operations are offloaded to storage cells then database servers could have more “useful” data pumped in over InfniBand and actually spend CPU cycles processing the data rather then filtering it. With Exadata v2, depending on the compression level, CPU was often a bottleneck on data loads so having some more CPU capacity on database tiers won’t harm.

Old configuration v2 will not be available so be ready to spend more on Oracle database licenses unless you are licensed under ULA or something.

Both Exadata x2-8 and x2-2 will run updated Oracle Linux 5.5 with Oracle Enterprise Kernel. x2-8 can also run Solaris x86 on database servers as expected. This confirms my assumption that if Oracle adds Solaris x86 into Exadata, it will prove that Oracle is fully committed to Solaris Operating System. A rather pleasant news to me! However, Solaris 11 Express is not available right now and probably will be available towards the end of this calendar year.

If you look at x2-2 and x2-8 side by side physically, you will see that four 1U databases servers of x2-2 basically replaced by one 5U database server in x2-8 in terms of space capacity. There are also more internal disks in those bigger servers and more power supplies so they are more redundant.

More processing power on storage servers in x2-8 and x2-2 (not dramatically more but definitely noticeable) will speed up smart scans accessing data compressed with high level. As more and more operations can be uploaded to the storage cells, boost in CPU capacity there is quite handy. Note that this doesn’t impact licensing in any way — Exadata Storage Server Software is using number of physical disk spindles as the licensing metric.

Regarding claims of the full database encryption — need to understand how it works and what are the improvements. Oracle Transparent Data Encryption was available on Exadata v2 but had many limitations when using with other Exadata features. I assume that Exadata x2-x addresses those but need to follow up on details so stay tuned. I believe that customers of Exadata v2 will be able to take advantage of all new Exadata software features – the platform architecture hasn’t changed.

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About the Author

What does it take to be chief technology officer at a company of technology experts? Experience. Imagination. Passion. Alex Gorbachev has all three. He’s played a key role in taking the company global, having set up Pythian’s Asia Pacific operations. Today, the CTO office is an incubator of new services and technologies – a mini-startup inside Pythian. Most recently, Alex built a Big Data Engineering services team and established a Data Science practice. Highly sought after for his deep expertise and interest in emerging trends, Alex routinely speaks at industry events as a member of the OakTable.

12 Comments. Leave new

Niall Litchfield
September 20, 2010 1:20 pm

Hey Alex, that’s gotta be the first recorded instance of some one on exadata being described as a low end customer :) have a beer for me.

M-A-O-L » Oracle Exadata Updates
September 20, 2010 4:47 pm

[…] Alex Gorbachev is updating his Pythian blog with details as they emerge: Oracle Exadata Database Machine x2-8 vs x2-2 Deathmatch. […]


x2-8 is based on x4800
x4800 is 5U not 4U server


Is that a typo in the table under X2-2 and X2-8 that both HP and HC are SAS?


@laotsao: yes. I forgot to fix the size. Done that.

@Maged: it’s not a typo but I did clarify. They use the same disks but plugged into SAS interface/backplane. Oracle qualifies it as SAS but it’s not really true. Anyway, with 7200 RPM having full SAS won’t make much of a difference as far as I understand.

Oracle Exadata Database Machine Offerings: X2-2 and X2-8 | Structured Data
September 28, 2010 8:43 pm

[…] Database Machine X2-2Oracle Exadata Storage ServersI just noticed that Alex Gorbachev has a nice table format of the hardware components for your viewing pleasure as well.Tags: Exadata, Exadata Database Machine, X2-2, X2-8 3 Responses […]

Kevin Closson
October 3, 2010 1:48 pm

Hi Alex,

The HC drives have SAS head-electronics. Don’t get wrapped up in the spinning part. The difference is in the head electronics. Seagate offers that Constellation ES drive with wither SAS or SATA head electronics. The SAS must be better because it weighs .71kg whereas the SATA weighs only .70kg. More must be better :-)

Joking aside, think in the same way you do about technology like FC-SATA (a SATA disk with FC attach and FC-SATA head electronics.



“Exadata x2-2 costs exactly the same as old Exadata v2”

Thats not really true is it? The individual costs may be the same but since the CPU count is 50% higher you pay more for the db, compression, rac, partitioning etc.

Alex Gorbachev
October 18, 2010 2:06 pm

Yes Daryl. I did mention that – “be ready to spend more on Oracle database licenses unless you are licensed under ULA or something.”

Thanks for emphasizing it. I’ll update that I referred to h/w cost only.

Muhammad Ahmad
March 9, 2012 2:07 am

It’s quite summarized and well balanced information, but old.
so should be updated with current x2-2 and x2-8 comparison.


Alex Gorbachev
April 13, 2012 8:16 pm

The referenced spreadsheets seem to be updated so I’d rather leave this blog post as is reflecting the x2-2 and x2-8 configurations as of their introductions. This blog was mostly useful then and not as useful now to be honest so I don’t really much value updating it.

blog post has timestamp and anybody reading an article on the internet need to alway be mindful of the material age.

Sunil Bhola
July 5, 2013 2:43 am

Hi Alex,

I think you can also add “network drop” in the above list:-
for X2-8 it is minimum of 5 network drop
For x2-2:-
quarter:- 6
full:- 12

Sunil Bhola


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