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9/25/2008
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Oracle Teams With HP On Database Hardware

Oracle in tandem with HP is bringing out its first hardware product, a database machine, which Oracle CEO Larry Ellison says is suitable for high end, high performance data warehouses.

Oracle in tandem with HP is bringing out its first hardware product, a database machine, which Oracle CEO Larry Ellison says is suitable for high end, high performance data warehouses.

At the Oracle OpenWorld conference on Wednesday, Ellison said in a keynote address that the HP Oracle Database Machine will combine a grid of Oracle database servers with a grid of HP Exabyte storage servers. The two grids are combined in a standard 42-u rack.

In a departure from other high end designs, the storage server rather than the database server will contain the intelligence to break queries down into separate parts that are executed in parallel on multi-core processors.

In effect, query-handling intelligence has been shifted from the database server to the storage server, which is closer to the data itself. The move allows only results to be passed from storage over to the database system, instead of blocs of data from a voluminous table of a large, 100 Terabyte or 200 Terabyte database. Databases of that size are becoming increasingly common, and the database machine approach will commonly improve performance over software-only, Oracle data warehouses by a factor of up to 30, Ellison said.

"We pass the query from the database server to the query server, where it is parallelized," with a part of the query running on each core of two-way storage server. Up to 14 storage servers or 28, multi-core CPUs are included in the database machine. The now common quad-core CPU would yield a maximum of 112 cores available for parallel query processing, allowing a complex query to be broken down into 112 parts, if necessary, each with its own core.

Each database server and storage server are connected by two InfiniBand channels, each capable of moving a GB of data per second. The 12 disks in an Exabyte Storage Server are capable of delivering only one GB of data per second, conceded Ellison, but the surplus indicated headroom for data warehouse performance to improve in step with disk drive performance. With a storage server grid of 14 units, the amount of data that could be moved per second under current limitations is 14 GB per second, with pipes capable of carrying 28 GB per second.

Ellison said HP and Oracle have been engaged in joint work on the database machine for three years.

The data warehouse machine is expected to compete with Teradata, the market leader in high end data warehousing based on parallel processing, and specialist Netezza, a supplier of data warehouse machines.

Ellison, never shy about making claims against the competition, said the HP Oracle Database Machine would also perform up to 30 times better than an IBM DB2 data warehouse. In press releases and other documentation, Oracle emphasizes performance improvements that are 10 times faster than predecessor Oracle and competitor data warehouses.

No pricing was announced, the database machine has been in use at several key Oracle customer sites for a year, Ellison said, and is available immediately. Oracle is responsible for sales and software system support. HP will assume hardware service.

Netezza President Jim Baum responded with a prepared statement to Oracle's move: "You just can't slap together existing solutions in clever packages… The power of the data warehouse appliance lies in integration and design from the ground up. Engineers in the same company, the same building, working to integrate a shared vision--not patch it together with glue and spit."

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