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  • Oracle White Paper—Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud X-2 Hardware Overview

    An Oracle White Paper

    March, 2011

    Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud: X2-2 Hardware Overview

  • Oracle White Paper—Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud X-2 Hardware Overview


    The following is intended to outline our general product direction. It is intended for information

    purposes only, and may not be incorporated into any contract. It is not a commitment to deliver

    any material, code, or functionality, and should not be relied upon in making purchasing

    decisions. The development, release, and timing of any features or functionality described for

    Oracle‟s products remains at the sole discretion of Oracle.

  • Oracle White Paper—Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud X-2 Hardware Overview


    Introduction Balancing cost, performance, complexity in engineering the most optimal hardware and

    software system is non-trivial. Regardless of approach, the end result may not yield the

    desired outcome. As a result, IT has started the inevitable shift to tightly integrated

    engineered systems as a cost effective simple way of obtaining an optimized purposefully

    built system that considers all of the traditional variables. In addition, engineered

    systems offered by systems companies offer improved quality and efficiency over custom

    systems built and assembled ad-hoc within IT departments.

    Software vendors, by and large, write software to function on a variety of platforms varied

    by device drivers, operating systems, chip sets, network and storage devices. Java™

    made this considerably simpler by abstracting the hardware layer away from the

    developer offering a development platform well suited to building portable enterprise

    class applications regardless of hardware and operating system. However, this portability

    has come at a cost, specifically performance. While many applications built on Java™

    perform extremely well, tuning applications is often an expensive and time consuming


    Exalogic Elastic Cloud takes performance of Java™ and Java EE™ based applications to

    the next level by offering a platform optimally suited for deployment of Java™ based

    applications with a particular focus on WebLogic server and the rest of Oracle Fusion


    This paper focuses on the hardware aspects of Exalogic Elastic Cloud, including the

    selection process and rationale, as well as technical insights into what systems

    modifications have been engineered to offer a system optimally suited for middleware


  • Oracle White Paper—Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud X-2 Hardware Overview


    Hardware: Foundation for Acceleration

    Hardware Design Choices

    Specifying and selecting the proper hardware is a time consuming and labor intensive process,

    assuming that testing of the various configurations is performed. The Exalogic engineering staff

    has conducted extensive testing on a wide range of hardware configurations to arrive at the

    optimal configuration for middleware type deployments. Rationales for these decisions are

    outlined below.

    Design Goals

    The following design goals guided the system architecture of Exalogic Elastic Cloud X2-2:

    Density: A key driver in the decision making process was to architect a system that provided a

    high level of compute density which is necessary for both high performance applications and for

    the use case of consolidating disparate middleware and application deployments.

    “State of the art”- Since Exalogic was to represent the best general purpose middleware

    deployment platform, it was necessary to pursue the most advanced technologies available in the

    Sun/Oracle hardware portfolio. This is evidenced by the choices in all component areas:

    compute, network and storage.

    Balance: Architecting a high performance system is not necessarily a difficult proposition.

    However, designing a high performance system that is balanced in terms of power consumption,

    storage, compute, cost, serviceability etc. is non-trivial. Exalogic puts forth a balanced system

    design that considers all of the relevant system design factors suited for middleware type


    Serviceability: The ability to field service the system is extremely important when it comes to

    providing a fault tolerant system. The ability to perform reliable field upgrades1 as well as the

    swapping of failed components is important in maintaining uptime in the overall system.

    Serviceability is not only evident in the mundane (but important) aspect of how the cable design

    has manifested itself in Exalogic, but also the choice for individual hardware components such as

    1 For example, the ability to upgrade a quarter rack to a half rack or from a half rack to a full rack configuration is intended to be performed in a reliable predictable fashion.

  • Oracle White Paper—Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud X-2 Hardware Overview


    redundant InfiniBand switches and storage heads that can be replaced without requiring any


    High performance networking: At the center of any clustered super computer sits a high

    performance network; preferably a scalable fat-tree network such as InfiniBand, enabling high

    speed communication between constituent applications and components. As described below,

    InfiniBand is a key technology behind the success of Exalogic as it provides a reliable high

    performance network interconnect while at the same time offloading compute cycles from host

    CPUs further increasing performance of the overall system.

    Consolidation: A primary goal was also to provide a platform optimally suited for the

    consolidation of heterogeneous applications. This implies the ability to support multiple

    application stacks running on various operating systems.

    Compute Node

    Selecting a compute system optimally suited for high performance Java workloads leads to

    selecting a processor that has the ability to efficiently support multiprocessing. Complimentary to

    this, is the ability to efficiently be able to support multiple hardware threads utilized by the

    executing Java software stack which tends to be highly threaded. The compute node within

    Exalogic is comprised of multiple 1U X4170 M22 compute nodes which hosts dual socket 5600

    Westmere series rack optimized Intel Xeon processor. Each processor consists of 6 cores for a

    total core count of 12 cores per compute node with 24 hyper-threads allowing for highly

    concurrent workloads to execute efficiently.

    The specific configuration of X4170 M2 includes twelve 8 GB DIMMs (Dual in-line memory

    modules) and two 32 GB SATA high performance high MTBF solid state disk drives configured

    in RAID 1 with redundant fans and redundant power supplies. The end result is a high

    performance, fault tolerant compute node with no moving parts besides the dual redundant fans.

    Besides high performance processors, Java benefits from high performing RAM to efficiently

    handle frequent memory allocation and garbage collection. For this reason, the X4170M2 is

    equipped with exactly 96GB of RAM; the maximum amount of RAM enabling the higher

    memory bus speed of 1333 MHz. Although the X4170M2 has a max capacity of 144GB,

    increasing memory beyond the 96Gb barrier requires a 40% drop in the memory bus speed to

    800Mhz which is sub-optimal for Java based applications. The end result is 8GB of RAM per

    2 Sun Fire X4170 Data Sheet: storage/servers/x86/sun-fire-x4170-m2-ds-079875.pdf

  • Oracle White Paper—Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud X-2 Hardware Overview


    core, which is more than enough for the most memory intensive applications. Figure 1 and figure

    2 illustrate the front and back view of the physical X4170M2 unit.




    In order to facilitate use cases that involve high levels of elasticity and high availability, Exalogic

    is outfitted with the 7320 ZFS storage appliance4. As individual compute nodes are intended to

    only host operating system binaries, the 7320 storage appliance stores all other application

    binaries, log files and content necessary for the applications to execute. The compute nodes

    3 The X4170M2 Exalogic Elastic Cloud configuration does not include a DVD drive

    4 See 7320 Data Sheet: 173093.pdf

  • Oracle White Paper—Oracle Exalogic Elastic Cloud X-2 Hardware Overview


    mount configured partitions of the 7320 to access necessary data over the InfiniBand network.

    The n


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