Intel builds high-performance hardware that moves, stores and processes the world’s data and powers digital services from the cloud to the edge. However, great silicon alone will only get you so far. Hardware needs to partner with optimized software to enable its new features and reveal its full performance potential, delivering maximum value and innovation to customers.
If It Was Easy, Anybody Could Do It
Each new Intel platform adds performance, new instructions and new features. Existing software may scale with additional frequency or architectural improvements up to a point, but in many cases, it can’t reach its full potential on the latest platform without some modifications. Calls to new processor instructions need to be added. Software processes that assumed a certain level of hardware latency need to be modified to accommodate higher performance. New platform innovations in memory, security or I/O need to be comprehended and added to the code base. Each of these changes are a technical or resourcing challenge for the software provider, but Intel is there to help.
Among data center silicon providers, only Intel has over 15,000 engineers working to optimize the world’s most broadly deployed software and most challenging workloads. Our software experts are often embedded with the engineers at the leading software companies and cloud service providers, such as Microsoft, Oracle and SAP. They also write and contribute code to hundreds of open source projects. Many of these relationships have been in place for over 20 years. Thanks to applications and operating systems optimized for our platforms by Intel engineers and our software partners, users enjoy performance scaling and new capabilities coincident with, or quickly following, each new Intel platform introduction.
Optimizing Software Takes Teamwork, Talent and Hard Work
The close collaboration between Intel and one of the biggest software leaders was in the spotlight this week at Oracle OpenWorld when Oracle announced that Exadata X8M is now standardized with 2nd generation Intel® Xeon® Platinum processors and Intel® Optane™ DC persistent memory, a major contribution to making it, as Oracle said, “the fastest database machine in the world, reaching a record breaking 16 million OLTP read IOPS with latency of 19 microseconds.” The journey to this announcement was 10 years in the making, and illustrates the value delivered to customers through Intel’s unique software optimization tools, people and relationships.
Intel’s Hubert Nueckel and his team of software engineers work side-by-side with their Oracle counterparts at Oracle’s headquarters campus in Redwood Shores, California. Non-volatile memory was one of many technologies the team experimented with for years, looking for performance breakthroughs for Exadata platforms and the full range of Oracle software. Optane DC persistent memory delivered what the team was looking for—fast, high-capacity, byte-addressable non-volatile memory—and they got to work.
Traditional software engineering evolved with the assumption that all memory was volatile, and data persistence was only available in SSDs or hard drives. Optane DC persistent memory upends that, and this new reality had to be coded into Exadata System Software. Hubert’s team used Intel software evaluation tools, simulators, and early hardware platforms to run a wide range of POCs and identify the best optimization targets. Two areas of focus were accelerating the retrieval of data from the Exadata storage server to the database server, and the rapid persistent logging of transaction records to assure data integrity and resilience. The joint engineering team leveraged the Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA) features of the Intel platform and Exadata to provide direct access from the database server’s Xeon processors to data stored in the Optane DC persistent memory in the storage servers. They also created a method to commit transaction data to persistent memory in cache-line granularity in nanoseconds, rather than writing data blocks to SSDs in milliseconds. These innovations were major contributors to the performance high watermark of Exadata X8M.
The Debut at Oracle OpenWorld
Together, Intel and Oracle engineers created a hardware/software combination that will accelerate insight and competitiveness across many industries. The demonstration of Exadata X8M at Oracle OpenWorld, featuring Intel Xeon Platinum processors and Optane DC persistent memory, was a tribute to the skill, tools and trusted engineer-to-engineer relationships of Intel’s software team, and the unique advantages these brilliant men and women afford to all our partners and customers.
To learn more about Intel Optane DC persistent memory, visit here, and software professionals should be sure to check out the Intel Developer Zone for the latest tools to help you optimize for Intel platforms.