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Why is my Sun 880 server performing better than my Sun Fire 6880?

We have an Oracle 8.1.6 instance running on a Sun Fire 6880 server with Solaris 9 as the OS and Netapps 4.5 as the storage. Backups are taken through snapshots. The Oracle Home, all Oracle data files and one set of redo logs and control files reside on the Netapps filer. The other set of redo logs and control files reside on the local kernel. We also have a Sun V880 server that has an identical environment that was previously used as the production database server.

Currently we have been benchmarking the 6800 vis-à-vis the 880 (since we clone the database, it is identical in composition) and the results consistently show that for operations that involve large I/O, the V880 is performing much better than the 6800 (almost taking half the time) -- the larger the I/O, the more the difference.

I know this description hardly helps out as far as specifics are concerned, but the environments are the same and we have been trying to find out what is causing this. How do I approach? Have been doing a lot of research to solve the same issue for the past two months and have done a lot of analysis, but we've hardly found any relevant aspects. Any help would be appreciated.

Is there a big difference in the amount of free physical RAM on the two servers? One of the biggest problems in benchmarking I/O on Solaris systems is that Solaris will take advantage of any available physical RAM for the file system buffer. While the data is not in the Oracle buffer cache, the data blocks may be in the file system buffer. I ran into this when I ran benchmarks and was talking with a disk vendor about the performance results. He indicated to me that it was physically impossible for the I/O to be performed as fast as my results indicated. The disk units could not perform I/O that fast. The use of physical RAM for the Solaris file system cache influenced my results.
This was last published in April 2005

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