ODA X8-2 series was sold for 3 years, and I would have expected X9-2 series to be on the market for 2-3 years, but I was wrong. ODA X10 series has just been announced. Maybe Oracle has a different strategy for appliances now, I will explain my thought later.
You will notice that Oracle removed the number 2 in the name of this new ODA series. X9-2S becomes X10-S, X9-2L becomes X10-L and X9-2HA becomes X10-HA. The number 2 makes less sense today: it reffered to the number of sockets/processors. But X10-S only has 1 processor, X10-L has 2, and X10-HA has 4 (2x 2). For sure, the ODA nodes are still 2-socket servers, but this number was quite confusing for some people.
Now let’s try to find out what’s new, what’s good and what’s not so good.
What is an Oracle Database Appliance?
ODA, or Oracle Database Appliance, is an engineered system from Oracle. Basically, it’s an x86-64 server with a dedicate software distribution including Linux, Oracle database software, a Command Line Interface (CLI), a Browser User Interface (BUI) and a virtualization layer. The goal being to simplify database lifecycle and maximize performance. Market positioning for ODA is quite tricky for Oracle: it sits between OCI (the Oracle public Cloud) and Exadata (the highest level database hardware – a kind of ODA on steroids). For some people, ODA avoids migrating to OCI bringing enough simplication for Oracle Database environments, for some other people, ODA is powerfull enough for most workloads and Exadata wouldn’t make sense. For me, ODA has always been one of my preferred solutions, and undoubtly a solution to consider.
For Enterprise Edition users, ODA has a strong advantage over its competitors: capacity on demand licensing. You can enable as few as 2 cores per node, meaning a single processor licence. You can later scale up by enabling additional cores according to your needs.
From Intel Xeon to AMD Epyc
ODA X9-2 was available in 3 flavors:
- X9-2S with 1 Xeon CPU, 256GB of RAM and 2x 6.8TB NVMe SSDs
- X9-2L with 2 Xeon CPUs, 512GB of RAM and 2x up to 12x 6.8TB NVMe SSDs
- X9-2HA with 2 nodes (similar to X9-2L without the disks) and one or two disk enclosures with various configurations (SSDs or spinning disks)
The first change you will notice is the switch from Intel Xeon to AMD Epyc CPU. Oracle already made this change on Exadata platform several months ago. It’s much more a global change from Oracle, moving to AMD on x86-64 servers’ lineup, including those servers in OCI.
X9-2 series ODAs were using Xeon Silver 4314 with 16 cores running between 2.4GHz and 3.4GHz, X10 series ODAs use AMD Epyc 9334 with 32 cores running between 2.7GHz and 3.9 GHz. The number of cores is not so important because most of the customers using ODAs are running Standard Edition or are using Enterprise Edition with a limited number of cores. But regarding pure CPU speed, a significant increase is expected, something like 30% for single thread processing.
Having better CPU doesn’t only mean better performance: it also means less licences for Enterprise Edition users. Having 30% faster CPUs means you need 30% less cores to do the same tasks, if you needed 6 Xeon cores for your workload, you may run the same workload on 4 Epyc cores, so on 2 processor licences instead of 3.
Internal SSDs: back to 480GB disks
It’s was one of my complain for X9-2 series: the 2x M2 internal disks were smaller than those on X8-2, from 480GB to 240GB. Now for X10 series, Oracle brings back 480GB internal disks, and it’s better having this size.
RAM: same sizes but expandable up to 3 times
X10-S has 256GB of RAM, like X9-2S, but you can now triple the size with additional memory modules (768GB). X10-L comes with 512GB in its basic configuration, and you can go up to 1.5TB. X10-HA is basically 2x X10-L with an external storage enclosure, you then have 2x512GB, 2x1TB or 2×1.5TB configurations.
Data disks: same size but less disks for X10-L
On X10-S and L, data disks are the same as X9-2 series: 6.8TB NVMe disks. X10-S has the same limitation as X9-2S, only 2 disks and no possible extension.
There is a catch regarding X10-L. On X9-2L you could have a maximum of 12 disks, meaning a huge 81TB of RAW storage. X10-L is now limited to 8 disks, meaning only 54TB of RAW storage. One could argue that it’s already a big capacity, but this is RAW TB, usable TB is 21TB only when using normal redundancy. For some of my customers having fully populated X8-2M ODAs, their databases won’t fit anymore in one X10-L… Another drawback when it comes to upgrading storage on your X10-L, there is only 4 slots for disks on the front panel. So how can you put 8 disks with only 4 slots? By adding them inside the server, as AIC: Add-In-Card. The disks have a different form factor and you will need to open your server to add these disks, meaning a downtime of your databases. Definitely a loss of flexibility.
X10-HA is not that different compared to X9-2HA, there is still a High Performance (HP) version and a High Capacity (HC) version, the first one being composed of SSDs only, the second one being composed of a mix of SSDs and HDDs. SSDs are still 7.68TB each, and only the HC get a capacity bump thanks to bigger HDDs: from 18TB to 22TB each.
Nothing new regarding network interfaces. You can have up to 3 of them (2 are optional), and you will choose for each between a quad-port 10GBase-T (copper) or a two-port 10/25GbE (SFP28). You should know that SFP28 won’t connect to 1Gbps fiber network.
Specific software bundle
Latest software bundle for ODA is 19.20, but Oracle just releases a dedicated version of the patch for X10: 188.8.131.52. Next patch bundle will probably be compatible with X10 as well as older versions. Currently, X7-2 series, X8-2 series and X9-2 series are still supported.
What about editions, licences and support?
First of all, these new ODAs don’t support Standard Edition 2 anymore! It’s a major breakthrough, as a lot of customers are using Standard Edition 2 on these appliances.
It’s cristal clear in the documentation:
My thought is that Oracle will keep X9-2 series for now, and will reserve X10 and AMD Epyc for Enterprise Edition users. X9-2 series is still relevant today, as price and performance match actual needs for most Standard Edition customers.
You may know that ODA is not sold with the database licences: you need to bring yours or buy them at the same time. You will need Enterprise Edition for these new ODAs, starting from 1 processor licence on a S and L models (2 activated cores) and at least 2 processor licences on HA (2 activated cores per node). Enabling your EE licence on an ODA will actually decrease the number of cores on the server to make sure you are compliant, but be careful because it doesn’t prevent you using unlicensed options. You can also use CPU pools to keep remaining CPUs available for other purpose, running application VMs for example.
Regarding support, as other hardware vendors you’ll have to pay for your ODA to be supported, in case of hardware failure. 1st year of support will usually be part of your initial order.
Support for the database versions is limited to 19c and 21c. Don’t forget that only 19c databases are supported with Premier Support. 21c being an innovation release, it’s only for testing.
What are the differences between the 3 models?
The X10-S is an entry price point for a small number of small databases.
The X10-L is much more capable and can get disk expansions. A big infrastructure with hundreds of databases can easily fit on several X10-L. OK, disk capacity is far behind previous X9-2L, but most customers won’t put 10 additional disks in their ODA: a fully populated X9-2L was 3 times more expensive than the base model.
The X10-HA is for RAC users because High Availability is included. The disk capacity is much higher than single node models, and HDDs are still an option. With X10-HA, big infrastructures can be consolidated on a very small number of HA ODAs.
|Model||DB Edition||nodes||U||RAM||RAM Max||RAW TB||RAW TB Max||base price|
|ODA X10-S||EE only||1||2||256GB||768GB||13.6||13.6||21’579$|
|ODA X10-L||EE only||1||2||512GB||1536GB||13.6||54.4||34’992$|
|ODA X10-HA HP||EE only||2||8/12||2x 512GB||2x 1536GB||46||368||97’723$|
|ODA X10-HA HC||EE only||2||8/12||2x 512GB||2x 1536GB||390||792||97’723$|
And regarding the price?
Looking into the latest engineered systems price list (search exadata price list and you will easily find it), you will find X10 series as well as X9-2 series. Prices for X10-S and X10-L are identical to X9-2S and X9-2L. X10-HA cost 9% more than X9-2HA. X10-HA being quite expensive now (nearly 100’000$), I would definitely compare it to an Exadata Cloud@Customer solution.
Which one should you choose?
If you are using Standard Edition, X10 series is not for you. You will need to order X9-2 series, or keep your older ODAs.
If your databases can comfortably fit in the S model, don’t hesitate as you will probably never need more.
Most interesting model is still the new L, maximum disk capacity is 33% less than its predecessor, but it’s a trade off for something like 33% more performance thanks to AMD Epyc. L is quite affordable, has still a great capacity, and is upgradable if you don’t buy the full system at first.
If you still want/need RAC and its associated complexity, the HA is for you.
Don’t forget that you will need at least 2 ODAs for Disaster Recovery purpose, using Data Guard. No one would recommend buying a single ODA, it’s probably better no ODA at all than a single one.
I would still prefer buying 2x ODA X10-L compared to 1x ODA X10-HA. NVMe speed, no RAC and single box is definitely better. And extreme consolidation may not be the best solution.
ODA X10 series will bring a nice CPU speed improvement thanks to AMD Epyc switch, but customers running Standard Edition are not concerned and are limited to X9-2 series. X10-L is also a little bit disappointing regarding storage possibilities compared to X9-2L. Nevertheless, ODA is still a good platform for database consolidation and simplification. And until now, it’s still very popular among our customers.