Oracle Exadata Database Machine Offerings: X2-2 and X2-8

For those who followed or attended Oracle OpenWorld last week you may have seen the introduction of the new hardware for the Oracle Exadata Database Machine. Here’s a high level summary of what was introduced:

  • Updated Exadata Storage Server nodes (based on the Sun Fire X4270 M2)
  • Updated 2 socket 12 core database nodes for the X2-2 (based on the Sun Fire X4170 M2)
  • New offering of 8 socket 64 core database nodes using the Intel 7500 Series (Nehalem-EX) processors for the X2-8 (based on the Sun Fire X4800)

The major updates in the X2-2 compared to V2 database nodes are:

  • CPUs updated from quad-core Intel 5500 Series (Nehalem-EP) processors to six-core Intel 5600 Series (Westmere-EP)
  • Network updated from 1 GbE to 10 GbE
  • RAM updated from 72 GB to 96 GB

The updates to the Exadata Storage Servers (which are identical for both the X2-2 and X2-8 configurations) are:

  • CPUs updated to the six-core Intel 5600 Series (Westmere-EP) processors
  • 600 GB 15k RPM SAS offering now known as HP (High Performance)
  • 2 TB  7.2k RPM SAS offering now known as HC (High Capacity) [previously the 2 TB drives were 7.2k RPM SATA]

One of the big advantages of the CPU updates to the Intel 5600 Series (Westmere-EP) processors is that the Oracle Database Transparent Data Encryption can leverage the Intel Advanced Encryption Standard New Instructions (Intel AES-NI) found in the Intel Integrated Performance Primitives (Intel IPP).  This “in silicon” functionality results in a 10x increase in encryption and an 8x increase in decryption using 256 bit keys per the Oracle Press release.

The differences (as I quickly see) between the X2-2 and the X2-8 offerings are:

  • X2-8 only comes in full racks (of 2 database nodes)
  • X2-8 has 2 TB of RAM per rack (compared to 768 GB for the X2-2)
  • X2-8 has 16s/128c/256t per rack vs. 16s/96c/192t for the X2-2 (s=sockets, c=cores, t=threads)

One of the other Exadata related announcements was that Solaris x86 will be an option for the database OS in addition to Linux.

In summary, the Oracle Exadata Database Machine is riding the wave of Intel processors and is leveraging the Intel IPP functionality and will likely do so for the foreseeable future.

If you want all hardware details, check out the product data sheets:

I just noticed that Alex Gorbachev has a nice table format of the hardware components for your viewing pleasure as well.


  1. Uwe Hesse

    Thank you for this helpful summary, Greg! Exactly what we need “in the field” if asked by customers about the difference of the new Exadata Database Machine to the earlier version. Especially the TDE thing is very convincing.

  2. Peter Wahl

    The storage nodes in Oracle Exadata X2-2 and X2-8 provide hardware *decryption* acceleration based on Intel® Xeon®X5600 CPUs with AES-NI, delivering a near-zero performance impact for TDE tablespace encryption. To enable hardware support for *encryption* on the X2-2 compute node, patch 10080579 is required.

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  5. Bill Mitchell

    Greg, I can’t get a decent answer from Oracle, perhaps you would have a thought on the memory restrictions in Exadata? Our Oracle representatives are pushing Exadata for our OLTP databases. The quick sizing widget says that we need 41 cores, but I don’t think that our SGAs will fit in a half rack, and certainly our 3 times as many test/QA databases won’t fit in a quarter rack. Why does Oracle build something that costs $5-10 million (with licensing), try to sell it for OLTP and then hamstring it with so little memory? I can’t imagine that sticking 128G or 256G of memory in the database servers would slow it down… Is there a kernel limit or something?

  6. Greg Rahn

    @Bill Mitchell

    If you are talking quarter or half racks then you are talking X2-2 so that’s 96GB of RAM per DB node which has 12 cores (2 sockets, 6 cores each). A quarter rack (2 DB nodes) is 192GB aggregate RAM and a half rack (4 DB nodes) has 394GB RAM. I certainly wouldn’t call 8GB of RAM per core “so little memory”. What is the core to GB RAM ratio you run on your systems today (what’s your requirement)? I’d say that most x64 configurations use 4GB per core as a common “larger” number, very few use more. Besides, the Sun Fire X4170 M2 DB nodes only support a max of 144GB of RAM (18 8GB DIMMS), so it’s already 2/3rds full, if you will.

  7. Bill Mitchell

    Thanks for the response Greg. Now, I know that you’ve probably blocked this out, but you used to work here (Alliant Energy)…

    My point is why 2/3s? Why put an artificial limit on the servers? How often have you heard someone say, “Geez, I wish we had less RAM in this server”? We currently run 11 servers, each with 128G of RAM. Why so much RAM? Because its cheap. Cost almost nothing compared to the ability to run more databases on fewer servers if necessary. What if we run on a half rack and lose a database server? Will we have enough memory then? Oracle’s only answer is to pay another couple of million dollars for an extra half rack (because you can’t add a quarter rack to a half rack???????). It would be a lot cheaper to buy another 48G of RAM for emergencies. It is especially trying in dev/test/QA where there are many more, but mostly idle, instances. Who can afford to have a larger test system than production? I like the idea of these systems, but Oracle is so inflexible – can’t connect a 1/4 to a 1/2 rack, can’t mix disk sizes in the same rack, Oracle v11.2 required, 96G of memory…

    I know, tilting at windmills. Thanks for listening.


  8. Greg Rahn

    @Bill Mitchell

    Actually I remember WP&L/Alliant Energy and I remember you as a contractor for Y2K when I was there.

    Regardless of what you or I think, neither of us are going to change the offerings; it is what it is. Let me shoot you an email and we can go from there.

  9. Syed Tanveer Ahsan

    Hi Greg,
    Is it possible to couple Exadata X2-8 with another X2-2 (full rack/Half rack) using Infiniband. If it’s possible than ‘Smart scan’ will work or not? Also,will it be treated as a single instance by DB server?
    Some Oracle guy is telling us that this is possible with the full functionality of Exadata.

    X2-2 DB server is also using Sunfire X4170(Intel 5600 series) which is also Westmere EP core and can do H/W assisted data Encryption (Intel AES-NI). What is the benefit of this H/W assistance?

    Thanks for listening.

  10. Greg Rahn


    You can connect an X2-2 and X2-8 rack together and create a single Exadata storage grid, however, you can not (as of today) have a RAC cluster that consists of both X2-2 and X2-8 nodes.

    RE: Encrpytion via Intel AES-NI I’ll quote the Oracle Advanced Security page:

    Cryptographic hardware acceleration delivers near-zero performance impact of TDE tablespace encryption
    When Oracle Database 11g Release 2 Patchset 1 ( is installed on an Intel Server with AES-NI capability, the data throughput is up to 8 times higher for decryption and up to 10 times higher for encryption (requires patch 10080579) compared to CPUs without hardware acceleration.

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