Oracle provides these quarterly releases is to address proactive, critical fixes and security vulnerabilities.

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Only the Proactive Bundle Patch can be installed on Exadata systems, not the standard PSU (with the exception of Oracle Database 12.1.0.1, which uses the standard GIPSU).

For Oracle Database 11.2, the proactive bundle patch is called Database Patch for Exadata.

The first and second digits represent a major and maintenance database release, for example, 12.2 or 12.1.

A major release or maintenance release contains new features, bug fixes, and security fixes.

For example, patchmgr updates Exadata storage servers and database servers to Exadata version 12.2.1.1.0, or Exadata Infini Band switches to version 2.2.4-3.

Software update tool that applies a Proactive Bundle Patch to an Oracle Grid Infrastructure home or Oracle Database home.

The forth digit represents a patch set release, for example, 12.2.0.1 or 12.1.0.2. However, some minor new features and change in functionality may be included in a patch set release.

The fifth digit represents a cumulative update to a patch set release, for example, 12.1.0.2.170117 or 11.2.0.4.161018.

An interim patch is one-off bug fix made available to customers who cannot wait until the fix is included in a subsequent patch set release or database patch for Exadata.

Exadata sustaining releases and quarterly Grid Infrastructure and Database Proactive Bundle Patches are released on regular quarterly cycle as part of the Oracle Critical Patch Update (CPU) program.

My Oracle Support Document 888828.1 is the primary source of information for software that runs on Exadata.