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Oracle refreshes RAM-crammed ZFS array line

OS auto-tunes for Larry's Database

After updating its old Pillar Axiom array line with the hybrid FS1 array a few months ago, Oracle has refreshed its ZFS array line with a bigger, faster generation and a quasi in-memory design.

Larry Ellison's company announced the third generation ZS3 appliances back in October last year. Fourteen months later, we have the fourth generation ZS4 product.

The ZS4-4 doubles previous generation performance with in-memory speed, 50 per cent more DRAM and CPU cores. Oracle boasts that the product "has more DRAM than most NAS systems have in flash." In its dual controller design it features:

  • 8 x 15-core 2.8GHz Xeon CPUs compared to 4x 8-core 2.1 GHz Xeons before
  • 3TB DRAM compared to the ZS3-4's 1TB
  • 0 - 12.8TB of flash, the same as the ZS3-4
  • 6 - 3.5PB scalability - the ZS3-4 maxes out at 1.5PB
  • 1 - 36 disk shelves; the ZS3-4 has 1 - 16
  • 8 x 10GbitE ports plus optional 1GbitE, 10GbitE,QDR InfniBand, 8 or 16Gbit/s FC - same as ZS3-4

That's certainly a lot more processing horsepower and memory, and more than double the maximum disk capacity. Customers who need more than the ZF3-4 provides now have somewhere to go.

The ZF4-4 can have up to 40 1GBitE ports, up from 32 with the ZF3-4, 16 x 10GbitE, 24 10GbitE optical (ZS3-4 - 16), and 16 InfiniBand, 8Gbit/s and 16Gbit/s Fibre Channel ports.


Oracle ZS4-4.

The system has v8.3 of the ZFS Storage OS, which provides multi-threaded symmetric multi-processing using up to 120 cores in total. The system has what Oracle calls an in-memory, DRAM-based Hybrid Storage Pool architecture, caching disk data in flash or DRAM.

Oracle claims up to 90 per cent of system I/O is delivered from memory.

AS with the ZS3 products, there is support for Hybrid Columnar Compression (HCC) with automatic data optimisation for Oracle Database 12c. Larry's company says HCC can compress by an average of 12x, increase database query performance by up to 5x, and reduce storage capacity costs by 40 per cent.

However, while the Z3S could deliver up to 32GB/sec of sustained bandwidth the newer ZS4 has, we are told, more than 30GB/sec of throughput The emphasis is on a DRAM-based performance boost with mire cores, rather than shifting more data.

Oracle says the ZS404 has been co-engineered with the Oracle Database 12c product. It uses a new Oracle Intelligent Storage Protocol v1.1.

Oracle Database sends cues to Oracle ZFS Storage Appliance about each operation, allowing the storage to intelligently process I/O and automatically and dynamically tune itself for optimal performance, reducing risk and speeding provisioning by alleviating tedious manual operations. With OS 8.3 and above, Oracle Intelligent Storage Protocol 1.1 includes per-database (or pluggable database) analytics. This capability allows drill downs on the advanced statistics by database name provided by ZS Analytics for rapid resolution of database issues in consolidated Oracle Database environments.

The ZFS Storage Appliance analytics are claimed to simplify and accelerate storage performance tuning and troubleshooting in Oracle Database 12c and Oracle Multi-tenant environments. These analytics for pluggable databases have visibility into thousands of containers across an enterprise.

In its typically combative competitive style Oracle claims: "EMC and NetApp storage solutions see thousands of Oracle Database 12c pluggable databases as one instance, requiring manually-intensive tuning and guesswork."

The system has 256-bit AEC encryption for data at rest at project, share or LUN level. Encrypted and non-encrypted volumes can be combined.

Positioning the FS1 and ZFS4-4 will be fun. The FS1 is a flash-heavy system whereas the ZS4-4 focuses more on DRAM. IT looks to us as a working set size decision; if its 3TB or less than go for the DRAM speed machine; the ZS4-4. If it's multiple TB beyond 3TB then the FS1 is a better fit.

The ZS3-2 and ZS3-4 continue as the entry-level and mid-range models with the ZS4-4 providing a new high-end to the line. Check out a ZS4-4 datasheet here (8-page PDF). Pricing and availability info was not released. We reckon it will cost money, quite a lot – all that memory means mucho bucks, and be available soon. ®

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