hardware advances impact Oracle technology
It is well known that hardware advances always
precede advances in software technology, and this is especially true for
Oracle. As hardware becomes
faster and cheaper, Oracle professionals change the ways that we process
information. Changes in
hardware affect the way we design databases, the way we implement
database and most important, the way that we tune databases.
While the costs of a DBA have remained relatively
constant over the past 30 years, the costs of hardware have fallen
dramatically, leading to a condition where applying hardware resources
is often faster and cheaper than applying human resources to fix an
acute performance problem.
This is a management technique called "throwing
hardware at a problem". Even though hardware may not address the
root cause of an acute performance problem, it's often the smart thing
to do for these reasons:
Hardware upgrades can be done fast, in just a
few hours. Root cause fixes can take months.
Hardware upgrades have very little risk.
Re-designing an Oracle system can be very risky
Hardware upgrades are a cheaper, guaranteed
fix. You can cache a 100 gigabyte database on SSD for under
$100,000.00, while a root cause fix may cost millions of dollars.
Here are the areas where we see the advances in
hardware technology and the impact on Oracle:
Disk - As disk becomes
cheaper, we deliberately introduce redundancy into our schema,
"pre-joining" tables together with redundant columns to improve
Oracle materialized views are also used to pre-join tables, allowing
for redundant first normal form representations of normalized OLTP
RAM - As RAM becomes cheaper
we see the widespread adoption of solid-state Oracle databases,
systems where the tablespaces are mapped to SSD RAM disks with
access speeds hundreds of times faster than platter disks.
Oracle also has their Times Ten database and the Database cache 11g
products for solid-state computing.
CPU - As processor costs fall,
we are seeing widespread server consolidation, as Oracle shops
abandon the one-server, one-database approach in favor of large
centralized servers with 32 and 64 on-board processors.
Along with this movement comes increased power from
parallelism, whereby full-table scan operations can happen up to 60
x faster than single processor systems.
The changes in hardware technology also reflect in
the Oracle DBA's job role.
Centralized servers reduce the amount of work necessary for software
patching and maintenance, freeing-up the DBA to pursue more advanced
See the article
Oracle 2020 to see how the changes in hardware are changing the DBA
The RAM anomaly
We must also note that there is an important
exception to the idea that all hardware gets faster and cheaper every
year. RAM speed has not
changed appreciably since the 1970's (at about 50 nanoseconds), so while
RAM gets cheaper every year, the speed remains constant.
This has imp[acted server configurations such that
super-fast "T1" RAM is co-located near the CPU's in order to keep the
servers loaded at full capacity, while lesser "T2" RAM is not located
near the CPU. See the link
below to learn more about this anomaly:
of hardware and Oracle technology