3 Ready to Go Configurations for Windows Server 2016 with Storage Spaces Direct

Are you ready? Today Microsoft released Technical Preview 5 (TP5) of Windows Server 2016 with Storage Spaces Direct.  We at Intel have been working with Microsoft on configurations to help OEMs, ODMs, and systems integrators bring solutions to market quickly.

The hyper-converged architecture of Storage Spaces Direct (S2D) is a giant leap forward for many key IT business applications. There are several enhancements in TP5, as discussed in Claus Joergensen’s blog: Storage Spaces Direct Technical Preview 5, along with the use of solid state drives (SSDs) for S2D that have caught the attention of the enterprise IT community.

Many IT professionals see the promise of hyper-converged and are rethinking how it can assist them from a compute as well as storage perspective. We are excited to share our joint work with Microsoft in helping prepare for TP5 evaluation. Learn from our combined knowledge working on S2D how to take advantage of Microsoft and Intel technologies for your target workloads.  These configurations include Intel® Xeon® processor- based servers and Intel® Solid State Drives (SSDs), providing a range of options for performance, reliability, and agile enterprise solutions.

We collaborated with Microsoft to develop three configurations that span a range of needs from the most latency/IOP sensitive business processing applications to capacity hungry data warehousing. We have been testing some of these configurations already and will be testing all three configurations with TP5 using hardware from different OEMs.  We plan to share the results in upcoming blogs as soon as the data is available.

1. IOPs Optimized
All Flash NVMe SSD configuration for IOP and latency sensitive business processing applications that demand the best quality of service (QoS).

  • Server : 1U 1Node or 2U 1Node
  • CPU: High core count processor, such as Intel® Xeon® processor E5-2699 v4 with 22 cores
  • DRAM: DDR4 - 16GBx24=384 GB (Min); 32GBx24=768GB (Max)
  • Cache Storage: Low-latency, high-endurance SSD, such as 2x Intel® SSD DC P3700: 800GBx2=1.6TB
  • Capacity Storage: 6-8x Intel® SSD DC P3520/DC P3500: 2TBx6-8=12-16TB
  • NIC: 2x40GbE RDMA NIC (iWARP preferred)
  • Switch:  40GbE switch

Config 1.jpg

2. Throughput/Capacity Optimized
All Flash configuration NVMe cache tier and high capacity SATA SSDs for blend of high performance and capacity for decision support and general virtualization

  • Server : 2U 1Node
  • CPU: Relatively high core count processor, such as Intel® Xeon™ processor E5-2695 v4 18 cores
  • DRAM: DDR4 -16GBx24=384 GB (Min); 32GBx24=768GB (Max)
  • Cache Storage: Low-latency, high-endurance SSD, such as 4x Intel® SSD DC P3700: 800GB X4=3.2TB
  • Capacity Storage: 20x SATA Intel® SSD  DC S3610: 1.6TB X20=32TB
  • NIC: 2x 40Gb RDMA NIC (iWARP Preferred)
  • Switch:  40 GbE switch

Config 2.jpg

3. Capacity Optimized
Hybrid configuration to optimize $/GB for efficiency using NVMe SSD cache plus HDDs for high capacity data storage, suitable for data warehousing, Exchange or SharePoint

  • Server : 2U 1Node
  • CPU: medium core count processor, such as Intel® Xeon® processor E5-2650 v4 with 12 cores
  • DRAM: DDR4 - 16GBx16=256 GB
  • Cache Storage: Low-latency, high-endurance SSD, such as 2x Intel® SSD DC P3700: 1.6TBx2=3.2TB
  • Capacity Storage: 8x HDD 3.5”: 6TBx8=48TB
  • NIC: 2x10Gb RDMA NIC (iWARP Preferred)
  • Switch:  10 GbE switch

Config 3.jpg

To maintain a reliable storage system, we selected SSD technology with the best blend of read and write performance, drive reliability, and endurance levels. NVMe provides the lowest latency and high performance consistency with 10 drive write per day endurance that is necessary for the performance critical cache tier. NVMe devices are also more CPU efficient than their SATA counterparts. We selected The Intel® SSD DC P3700 NVMe for the cache tier of all configurations.

Standard to mid endurance SSDs can be used in the capacity tier behind the high endurance cache drives. The choice between NVMe and SATA for capacity storage will depend on the performance and latency sensitivity of the applications and the platform capacity needed. Consistent performance is an important attribute for supporting all enterprise applications and larger numbers of users and virtual machines in Hyper-V virtualized environments.  We selected the Intel SSD DC P3520/DC P3500 NVMe and DC S3610 SATA SSD for capacity storage in the all flash configurations.

Not all “off the shelf” SSDs should be used in a S2D configuration. The Intel SSD Data Center Family is recommended because it provides a data integrity mechanism to protect against undetectable errors while maintaining superior levels of measured annual failure rate, which contributes to the high reliability of the S2D configurations.

Whether you are a DBA, developer or storage architect you can get up and testing quickly with one of these recommended Windows Server 2016 TP5 configurations.  Watch for our follow-on blogs sharing the testing data as it becomes available.

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About Chuck Brown

Chuck Brown serves as an SSD Storage Solution Architect within Intel. He works with leading storage providers and enterprise accounts on architecture and usage for software defined storage infrastructure. He advises leading IT decision makers about best practices around storage and virtualization technologies. Prior to his current role, Dr. Brown served as Intel’s data center SSD product line manager and director Intel’s Emerging Compute Laboratory researching desktop virtualization technology. He holds nine U.S. patents on Flash technology.