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Oracle throws hardware at disk bandwidth problem

Oracle, the biggest enterprise software company in the universe, is putting hardware to work to eliminate disk bandwidth problems.

The database giant has pressed Hewlett-Packard, apparently now its number one hardware ally, into service building the high-end box. Yes: X = The HP Oracle Database Machine.

And a lot of hardware it is. The machine puts two Intel CPUs (four cores each) at each of the 12 disk drives. And there are two InfiniBand pipes per storage server. That’s quite a bit of brute force. The secret of the software, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison told Oracle OpenWorld attendees, is that it puts the database machine (aka storage server) to work doing just what needs doing.

Ellison says what Oracle does is put more smarts into the storage part of the implementation so that when a query is made — say sales totals for a certain period — instead of passing all the relevant “data blocks” from storage to the database server for parsing, that work happens locally on the new “database machine.” The result is that queries pass back and forth, not huge reams of data. There goes the bottleneck!

The hardware is a HP ProLiant DL180 G5 server with both SAS or SATA drives and capacity up to 12 TB.

As Ellison said, “I know you were thinking: that’s a lot of songs. It holds 1,400 times Apple’s largest iPod,” he quipped.

Ellison compared this hardware-software combo, naturally, as a huge improvement over what Teradata and Netezza already offer. It is clearly a reaction to database appliances already on the market. Sun Microsystems and Green Plum are collaborating on a similar effort in sun’s ” Teradata Takeout” effort.

This is high-end stuff — and I’m guessing a direct sale. Ellison put the list of the software at $1.6 million — although he also mocked Oracle sales’ tendency to deal off the price list. “I know Oracle sales people never, ever discount,” he said to much hilarity in the crowd. . HP’s hardware list is about $650,000.

What’s unclear is who customers hit up for support if anything goes awry. HP is down for providing hardware support and maintenance but “Oracle is responsible for sales and system support.”: That could lead to finger pointing. Hmmmm.

Machines are available now for order from Oracle.

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