Archive for the 'Oracle TPC-H' Category

Oracle’s Timeline, Copious Benchmarks And Internal Deployments Prove Exadata Is The Worlds First (Best?) OLTP Machine – Part 1.5

In Part I of this series about Oracle OLTP/ERP on Exadata versus non-Exadata, I took a moment to point out the inaccuracies of a particular piece of Oracle marketing literature. In a piece aimed at chronicling Oracle Corporation history, the marketing department went way out of line by making the following claim regarding Exadata:

[…] wins benchmarks against key competitors [..]

Please don’t get me wrong, those five words appearing in any random sentence wouldn’t pose any sort of  a problem. However, situated as they are in this particular sentence does create a  problem because the statement is utterly false.  Exadata has not won a single benchmark against any competitor–“key” or otherwise.

Along For The Ride
In Part I of this series I pointed out the fact HP Oracle Exadata Storage Server cells (a.k.a., V1 Exadata) were used in this June 2009 HP BladeSystem 1-TB Scale TPC-H. However, merely involving Exadata hardware can hardly support Oracle’s marketing claim vis a vis winning benchmarks against key competitors.

There is a big difference between being involved in a benchmark and being the technology that contributes to the result.

I made it clear, in Part I, that Exadata storage was used in that 2009 HP TPC-H result but none of the Exadata features contributed to the result. I clarified that assertion by pointing out that the particular benchmark in question was an In-memory Parallel Query result. Since the result establish Oracle database performance achieved through in-memory database processing I didn’t feel compelled to shore up my assertion. I didn’t think anyone would be confused over the fact that in-memory database processing is not improved by storage technology.

I was wrong.

In the comment section of Part I a comment by a blog reader took offense at my audacious claim. Indeed, how could I assert that storage is not a relevant component in achieving good in-memory database processing benchmark results. The reader stated:

You give reference to a TPHC that used Exadata and then say no Exadata features were used. [..] You obviously don’t know what you are talking about

Having seen that I began to suspect there may be other readers confused on the matter so I let the comment through moderation and decided to address the confusion it in this post.

So now it’s time to address the reader’s comment. If Exadata is used in a benchmark, but Exadata Storage Server offload processing is disabled, would one consider that an Exadata benchmark or was Exadata merely along for the ride?

Here is a screenshot of the full disclosure report that shows Exadata storage intelligence (offload processing) features were disabled. For this reason I assert that Exadata has never won a benchmark against “competitors”, neither “key” nor otherwise.

The screenshot:

Recent SPARC T4-4 TPC-H Benchmark Results. Proving Bandwidth! But What Storage?

On 30 November, 2011 Oracle published the second result in a recent series of TPC-H benchmarks. The prior result was a 1000GB scale result with a single SPARC T4-4 connected to 4 Sun Storage F5100 Flash Arrays configured as direct attached storage (DAS).  We can ascertain the DAS aspect by reading the disclosure report where we see there were 16 SAS host bus adaptors in the T4-4. As an aside, I’d like to point out that the F5100 is “headless” which means in order to provision Real Application Clusters storage one must “front” the device with a protocol head (e.g., COMSTAR) such as Oracle does when running TPC-C with the SPARC SuperCluster. I wrote about that style of storage presentation in one of my recent posts about SPARC SuperCluster. It’s a complex approach, is not a product, but it works.

The more recent result, published on 30 November, was a 3000TB scale result with a single SPARC T4-4 server and, again, the storage was DAS. However, this particular benchmark used Sun Storage 2540-M2 (OEMed storage from LSI or Netapp?) attached with Fibre Channel. As per the disclosure report there were 12 8GFC FC HBAs (dual port) for a maximum read bandwidth of 19.2GB/s (24 x 800MB/s). The gross capacity of the storage was 45,600GB which racked up entirely in a single 42U rack.

So What Is My Take On All This?

Shortly after this 3TB result went public I got an email from a reader wondering if I intended to blog about the fact that Oracle did not use Exadata in this benchmark. I replied that I am not going to blog that point because while TPC-H is an interesting workload it is not a proper DW/BI workload. I’ve blogged about that fact many times in the past. The lack of Exadata TPC benchmarks is in itself a non-story.

What I do appreciate gleaning from these results is information about the configurations and, when offered, any public statements about I/O bandwidth achieved by the configuration.  Oracle’s press release on the benchmark specifically called out the bandwidth achieved by the SPARC T4-4 as it scanned the conventional storage via 24 8GFC paths. As the following screen shot of the press release shows, Oracle states that the single-rack of conventional storage achieved 17 GB/s.

Oracle Press Release: 17 GB/s Conventional Storage Bandwidth.

I could be wrong on the matter, but I don’t believe the Sun Storage 2540 supports 16GFC Fibre Channel yet. If it had, the T4-4 could have gotten away with as few as 6 dual-port HBAs. It is my opinion that 24 paths is a bit cumbersome. However, since it wasn’t a Real Application Clusters configuration, the storage network topology even with 24 paths would be doable by mere mortals. But, again, I’d rather have a single rack of storage with a measly 12 FC paths for 17 GB/s and since 16GFC is state of the art that is likely how a fresh IT deployment of similar technology would transpire.

SPARC T4-4 Bandwidth

I do not doubt Oracle’s 17GB/s measurement in the 3TB result. The fact is, I am quite astounded that the T4-4 has the internal bandwidth to deal with 17GB/s data flow. That’s 4.25GB/s of application data flow per socket. Simply put, the T4-4 is a very high-bandwidth server. In fact, when we consider the recent 1T result the T4-4 came within about 8% of the HP Proliant DL980 G7 with 8 Xeon E7 sockets and their PREMA chipset . Yes, within 8% (QphH) of 8 Xeon E7 sockets with just 4 T4 sockets. But is bandwidth everything?

The T4 architecture favors highly-threaded workloads just like the T3 before it. This attribute of the T4 is evident in the disclosure reports as well. Consider, for instance, that the 1TB SPARC T4 test was conducted with 128 query streams whereas the HP Proliant DL980 case used 7. The disparity in query response times between these two configurations running the same scale test is quite dramatic as the following screen shots of the disclosure reports show. With the HP DL980, only query 18 required more than 300 seconds of processing whereas not a single query on the SPARC T4 finished in less than 1200 seconds.




These recent SPARC T4-4  TPC result proved several things:

1.    Conventional Storage Is Not Dead. Achieving 17GB/s from storage with limited cabling is nothing to sneeze at.

2.    Modern servers have a lot of bandwidth.

3.    There is a vast difference between a big machine and a fast machine. The SPARC T4 is a big (bandwidth) system.

Finally, I did not blog about the fact that the SPARC T4 TPC-H benchmarks do not leverage Exadata storage. Why? Because it simply doesn’t matter. TPC-H is not a suitable test for a system like Exadata. Feel free to Google the matter…you’ll likely find some of my other writings stating the same.

Databases are the Contents of Storage. Future Oracle DBAs Can Administer More. Why Would They Want To?

I’ve taken the following quote from this Oracle whitepaper about low cost storage:

A Database Storage Grid does not depend on flawless execution from its component storage arrays. Instead, it is designed to tolerate the failure of individual storage arrays.

In spite of the fact that the Resilient Low-Cost Storage Initiative program was decommissioned along with the Oracle Storage Compatability Program, the concepts discussed in that paper should be treated as a barometer of the future of storage for Oracle databases-with two exceptions: 1) Fibre Channel is not the future and 2) there’s more to “the database” than just the database. What do I mean by point 2? Well, with features like SecureFiles, we aren’t just talking rows and columns any more and I doubt (but I don’t know) that SecureFiles is the end of that trend.

Future Oracle DBAs
Oracle DBAs of the future become even more critical to the enterprise since the current “stove-pipe” style IT organization will invariably change. In today’s IT shop, the application team talks to the DBA team who talks to the Sys Admin team who tlks to the Storage Admin team. All this to get an application to store data on disk through a Oracle database. I think that will be the model that remains for lightly-featured products like MySQL and SQL Server, but Oracle aims for more. Yes, I’m only whetting your appetite but I will flesh out this topic over time. Here’s food for thought: Oracle DBAs should stop thinking their role in the model stops at the contents of the storage.

So while Chen Shapira may be worried that DBAs will get obviated, I’d predict instead that Oracle technology will become more full-featured at the storage level. Unlike the stock market where past performance is no indicator of future performance, Oracle has consistently brought to market features that were once considered too “low-level” to be in the domain of a Database vendor.

The IT industry is going through consolidation. I think we’ll see Enterprise-level IT roles go through some consolidation over time as well. DBAs who can wear more than “one hat” will be more valuable to the enterprise. Instead of thinking about “encroachment” from the low-end database products, think about your increased value proposition with Oracle features that enable this consolidation of IT roles-that is, if I’m reading the tea leaves correctly.

How to Win Friends and Influence People
Believe me, my positions on Fibre Channel have prompted some fairly vile emails in my inbox-especially the posts in my Manly Man SAN series. Folks, I don’t “have it out”, as they say, for the role of Storage Administrators. I just believe that the Oracle DBAs of today are on the cusp of being in control of more of the stack. Like I said, it seems today’s DBA responsibilities stop at the contents of the storage-a role that fits the Fibre Channel paradigm quite well, but a role that makes little sense to me. I think Oracle DBAs are capable of more and will have more success when they have more control. Having said that, I encourage any of you DBAs who would love to be in more control of the storage to look at my my post about the recent SAN-free Oracle Data Warehouse. Read that post and give considerable thought to the model it discusses. And give even more consideration to the cost savings it yields.

The Voices in My Head
Now my alter ego (who is a DBA, whereas I’m not) is asking, “Why would I want more control at the storage level?” I’ll try to answer him in blog posts, but perhaps some of you DBAs can share experiences where performance or availability problems were further exacerbated by finger pointing between you and the Storage Administration group.

Note to Storage Administrators
Please, please, do not fill my email box with vitriolic messages about the harmony today’s typical stove-pipe IT organization creates. I’m not here to start battles.

Let me share a thought that might help this whole thread make more sense. Let’s recall the days when an Oracle DBA and a System Administrator together (yet alone) were able to provide Oracle Database connectivity and processing for thousands of users without ever talking to a “Storage Group.” Do you folks remember when that was? I do. It was the days of Direct Attach Storage (DAS). The problem with that model was that it only took until about the late 1990s to run out of connectivity-enter the Fibre Channel SAN. And since SANs are spokes attached to hubs of storage systems (SAN arrays), we wound up with a level of indirection between the Oracle server and its blocks on disk. Perhaps there are still some power DBAs that remember how life was with large numbers of DAS drives (hundreds). Perhaps they’ll recall the level of control they had back then. On the other hand, perhaps I’m going insane, but riddle me this (and feel free to quote me elsewhere):

Why is it that the industry needed SANs to get more than a few hundred disks attached to a high-end Oracle system in the late 1990s and yet today’s Oracle databases often reside on LUNs comprised of a handful of drives in a SAN?

The very thought of that twist of fate makes me feel like a fish flopping around on a hot sidewalk. Do you remember my post about capacity versus spindles? Oh, right, SAN cache makes that all better. Uh huh.

Am I saying the future is DAS? No. Can I tell you now exactly what model I’m alluding to? Not yet, but I enjoy putting out a little food for thought.

Yet Another Excellent RAC Install Guide

Tim Hall sent me email to point me to a recent step-by-step install tip he produced for Oracle11g with NAS storage (NFS).  In the email he asked me if I had any experience with the new Oracle11g Direct NFS (DNFS) feature. The answer is, yes, I have a lot of DNFS experience as I hinted to with my blog post entitled Manly Men Only Deploy Oracle With Fibre Channel Part VI. Introducing Oracle11g Direct NFS. If I haven’t plugged the “Manly Man” series lately I am doing so again now. I think anyone interested in storage with an Oracle slant would take interest.  The full series of Manly Man posts can be found easily through my index of CFS/NFS/ASM Topics as well as this entry about a recent Oracle 300GB TPC-H result. That TPC-H result is very interesting-especially if you are trying to get out of SAN/DAS/NAS rehab. Yes, that was supposed to be humorous.

Back to the point. Here is the link to Tim’s (very good) step-by-step Oracle Database 11g RAC on Linux setup for NFS environments. I especially liked the mention of Direct NFS since I think it is very important technology as my jointly-authored Oracle Whitepaper on the topic should attest.


I work for Amazon Web Services. The opinions I share in this blog are my own. I'm *not* communicating as a spokesperson for Amazon. In other words, I work at Amazon, but this is my own opinion.

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All content is © Kevin Closson and "Kevin Closson's Blog: Platforms, Databases, and Storage", 2006-2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kevin Closson and Kevin Closson's Blog: Platforms, Databases, and Storage with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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