This week at its OpenWorld event held in San Francisco, Oracle announced the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel for Oracle Linux. First and foremost, Oracle Linux is optimized to run Oracle applications software. Buried in the bigger, better, faster claims however is this curious note: Oracle claims that the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel is 137% faster at accessing files on SSDs than Red Hat Compatible Kernel. This is an example of apps-driven hardware optimization, with a bias towards SSDs. Oracle’s press release doesn’t explain why its Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel is faster, but it’s not hard to guess. OS coders must make assumptions about the underlying hardware running their code and assumptions about disk performance certainly fall into that category. SSDs have substantially different I/O characteristics than do HDDs, and knowledge of that performance difference can certainly help in sizing read/write buffers and making similar disk-access decisions when building an OS kernel. According to the press release, Wim Coekaerts, senior vice president of Linux and Virtualization Engineering at Oracle said “Today’s hardware innovations are fast and frequent – making it very important that the Linux distributions evolve quickly to leverage the latest hardware.” This is clearly a sign of things to come.
Unsurprisingly, the Unbreakable Enterprise Kernel is now the only Linux kernel Oracle recommends for use with Oracle software.