Arming your Database! A comparison of Arm vs X64

Oracle recently released it’s popular Enterprise Database for the Arm CPU. This is news, as it’s the first new architecture announced by Oracle since they added the Itanium architecture. In fact, this also reverses the current path, where Oracle has been removing CPU architectures from newer versions of the database!

Oracle has added support for aarch64, the Arm architecture, in response to customer demand. Arm is an instruction set architecture (ISA) that was originally developed by a British company called Arm Holdings. Today, it’s widely used in a variety of devices, from smartphones and tablets to embedded systems and servers in the cloud. The Arm architecture is designed to be energy-efficient and low-power, which is why it follows a reduced instruction set computing (RISC) design philosophy that emphasizes simplicity and efficiency. This makes it ideal for devices with power constraints. Arm processors have a reputation for offering excellent performance-per-watt ratios, which is why they are frequently used in cloud systems.

Arm processors come in various variants with different capabilities, as the architecture is highly modular and customizable. Many manufacturers are designing and manufacturing their Arm-based processors, including Ampere, Qualcomm, Apple, and RaspBerry Pi, to name a few. In recent years, Arm processors have gained attention in the server market due to their energy efficiency and growing performance. As a result, Arm-based server chips are becoming a viable alternative to traditional x86-based server architectures. One of the cool advantages of Arm, is that while there are many variations by multiple manufacturers, the ISA is the same, so the same code that can run on a small RaspberryPI can also run in the cloud.

Most cloud service providers ( Oracle, Google, Azure etc.)  offer Arm, and almost all of them base their systems on Ampere’s Computing’s Arm-based processors, offer several advantages that make them attractive for various computing applications. Some of the key advantages of Ampere processors include:

  • Performance – Ampere processors possess impressive capabilities that allow them to perform computing tasks at a high level. They possess several cores and fast clock speeds, which enable them to handle complex workloads effectively. The architecture of Ampere processors is highly efficient and optimized, resulting in a competitive performance when compared to other server processors.
  • Scalability – The Ampere processors are highly scalable and offer a diverse range of configurations and deployment options. With varying core counts and power variants, they are suitable for a multitude of server environments. This scalability allows users to strike the perfect balance between performance, power efficiency, and cost to fit their unique requirements.
  • Energy Efficiency – Ampere processors prioritize energy efficiency, providing high performance while minimizing power usage. This is especially crucial for data centers and cloud computing settings where power efficiency can greatly affect operational expenses. With lower power consumption, Ampere processors contribute to decreased energy usage and reduced cooling needs. This is truly a Green platform, using less power and therefore generating less carbon.
  • Arm Ecosystem – The Ampere processors are designed using the Arm architecture and have the advantage of being supported by the comprehensive Arm ecosystem. With an array of software support, tools, and libraries available, developers can easily create and optimize applications for the Ampere processors. This ecosystem comprises different Linux distributions, programming frameworks, and software tools, ensuring that there is compatibility and flexibility.
  • Cloud-Native Design – Ampere processors have been specifically crafted to cater to the demands of cloud-native workloads. These processors come equipped with advanced security mechanisms, optimized memory subsystems, and hardware virtualization features, making them ideal for powering cloud services and applications with utmost efficiency.

How does this apply to your Oracle Database? From my personal testing, Arm as good as, if not slightly better than x86 systems, but this I think is more due to how OCI works.

There are also a few differences with this Ampere ARM DBaaS offering on OCI, mainly that the database does not use ASM for storage! This did catch me off guard for a second, as I am very use to all of Oracle’s databases defaulting to ASM for storage. Like the other DBaaS offering, you still have root shell access to the database VM. Additionally, the Ampere based database is sold per vCPU with Arm, allowing you to more granular size the database ( and costs). With Intel and AMD you purchase two vCPU at a time, with Arm you purchase one vCPU at a time. For lot’s of smaller databases, the savings can add up. If you have only a few larger databases, the cost will be about the same.

It’s important to note that the specific advantages of Ampere processors may vary depending on the specific system and use case. It’s always recommended to evaluate the processors based on the specific requirements of your intended applications and workloads.

3 Replies to “Arming your Database! A comparison of Arm vs X64”

  1. Eric – Was this comparison between Intel x86 and Amphere Arm and have you run the same benchmark against AMD Epyc? I would suspect ARM to be slightly better than iIntel based on what we see on Apple machines I just wonder what the delta is for AMD. Cheers! – Phil

  2. Pingback: Oracle Database 19c on Arm platform is available

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