- RAM. Doubling from 1 terabyte to 2 terabytes. This will help everything on the box but those of us running Essbase now have even more RAM to use for making RAM drives.
- Flash. Exalytics now comes standard with 2.4 TB of flash. I mentioned this earlier as an upgrade option to the Exalytics X2-4, but it now is native to the X3-4. As mentioned in my earlier article, flash impacts Essbase performance far more than OBIEE (which isn't as disk I/O intensive). Having .25 millisecond read latency (what these flash drives are rated) means there's virtually no seek time finding values in an Essbase cube on disk. I'm expecting most Essbase customers will put their physical cubes on the flash drives and then quickly load them into a RAM drive upon start up (which has better performance than reading into the Essbase caches for each database).
- Hard Drive. They are upping the traditional hard drives from 3.6 TB to 5.4 TB. It still has 6 physical drives in it, but they are going from 600GB drives to 900GB drives. [Updated on 8-25-2013.]
The cores (still 40) stay the same... for now. At some point, someone is going to start hitting these limits and they're probably up the cores and I wouldn't be surprised if they went 100% flash drives in a future release.
X3-4 supports OBIEE 188.8.131.52, Endeca 3.0, Essbase 184.108.40.206, and any Linux-allowed Hyperion EPM product on 220.127.116.11. They also strongly imply that there are some Essbase optimizations in 18.104.22.168 that only work on Exalytics, but I haven't found them yet to verify. Regardless, Exalytics X3-4 is the best engineered system you can currently buy for Essbase, bar none.
The X2-4 was $135,000 for the hardware (software sold separately), but to add-on flash, you paid an additional $35,000 giving us a real price for X2-4 of $170,000. The new box is $175,000... and for that additional $5,000, they double the RAM and increase the hard drives 50%. In other words, you're getting a hell of a deal. For what is literally $40,000 more in total, you're getting 1 TB more of RAM, 2.4 TB of really good flash, and 1.8 TB of additional hard drive.
What if I Already Bought an X2-4?
First of all, congratulations. You're really smart, despite what your high school guidance counselor said. To upgrade your X2-4 to an X3-4, you can buy an upgrade kit! The upgrade kit (to get flash and the 1 TB of RAM) does cost $105,000 though. So your X2-4 with an upgrade to an X3-4 will end up costing you $240,000 in total. Oracle will support your X2-4 under their lifetime support policy even though it is being phased out.
You can order an X3-4 now. I haven't seen one actually ship yet, but it was just officially launched yesterday. While I think you can still buy the X2-4 until the end of this quarter (August 31, 2013), I'm not at all sure why you would. Find the extra $40K and get not only blazingly fast flash drives but more RAM than you know what to do with.