The Fast and the Furiously Fast Storage

Run, run as fast as you can… You can’t catch me… I am the Microsoft S2D* plus Intel® Optane™ SSD man!

Performance has always been a popular discussion topic among system architects. And, when the solution design is put to the test, sometimes it feels like more could have been done.

When testing all NVMe*-based storage systems with an Intel® Optane™ SSD, initially many engineers expect more performance from the system. However, after closer examination of the test results, it becomes clear that the test did not come close to achieving Intel Optane SSD specs. The reason? The test is CPU-bound. New technologies such as Intel® Optane™ SSDs need new test methodologies!

In this new era of fast storage, it is imperative solution architects develop balanced systems with sufficient compute power to get the most from devices like Intel Optane SSD and Intel® Optane™ DC Persistent Memory. Luckily, Microsoft Storage Spaces Direct* (S2D) and Windows Server* have been optimized for the full line of Intel Optane technology solutions with 2nd generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors.

So it’s time to get busy testing.

The question is how much can you get out of Microsoft S2D on an Intel Optane SSD + Intel Xeon Scalable processor solution? You may have found this IOPS record from MS IGNITE 2008 Microsoft blog on the latest Intel Optane DC persistent memory. The results showed you can consistently scale-up and out your cluster design to keep up with your needs, without having to compromise.

Windows Admin Center image

WAC (Windows Admin Center) shows a steady increase in IOPS as nodes are being added to the cluster. It is a 1M IOPS building block with 12-node cluster design setup with an Intel Optane PM as cache, and using the latest Intel Xeon Scalable CPU.With this incredible number, one thing is clear: you should design your cluster around storage capacity and endurance, since performance is a given with all NVMe + Intel Optane SSD design points.

As you can see in the chart, Intel Optane DC persistent memory can deliver the performance1.

While the previous results were with Intel Optane DC persistent memory, you can also attain impressive gains if you want an all-NVMe solution or if your current CPU does not support Intel Optane DC persistent memory. Here’s a snapshot  of another MS IGNITE presentation with Intel® Optane™ SSD DC P4800X as cache. By replacing Intel Optane DC persistent memory with Intel Optane SSD in the caching layer, we wanted to evaluate how much could the cluster achieve. It actually beat the previous record with an all NVMe solution with less nodes.

Intel Optane technology offers a wide range of options to accelerate your Microsoft S2D solution. Your goal as an architect is to identify the needs of your customer and use the correct device in the proper place. It also enables you to properly size a building block for scale-out scenarios.

See other ways in which Intel® Optane™ DC SSDs are making an impact in the data center.

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References, Resources, and Footnotes
1Microsoft Blog for IOPS Record on IGNITE: https://blogs.technet.microsoft.com/filecab/2018/10/30/windows-server-2019-and-intel-optane-dc-persistent-memory/
Intel® Optane™ DC Persistent Memory IOPS record demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WMXkMLJORc
Cosmos Darwin - Be IT hero <at 30 minutes in Intel® Optane™ technology presentation>: https://youtu.be/5kaUiW3qo30
Intel® Optane™ Technology - https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/architecture-and-technology/intel-optane-technology.html
Intel® Optane™ DC Persistent Memory - https://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/architecture-and-technology/optane-dc-persistent-memory.html
Windows Support for Intel® Optane™ DC Persistent Memory - https://www.snia.org/sites/default/files/PM-Summit/2018/presentations/06_PM_Summit_2018_Talpey-Final_Post-CORRECTED.pdf
https://www.snia.org/sites/default/files/PM-Summit/2019/presentations/04-PMSummit19-Bates-Christiansen.pdf

Software and workloads used in performance tests may have been optimized for performance only on Intel microprocessors. Performance tests, such as SYSmark and MobileMark, are measured using specific computer systems, components, software, operations and functions. Any change to any of those factors may cause the results to vary. You should consult other information and performance tests to assist you in fully evaluating your contemplated purchases, including the performance of that product when combined with other products. For more complete information visit www.intel.com/benchmarks.

Performance results are based on testing by Intel in August 2018 and may not reflect all publicly available security updates. See configuration disclosure for details. No product can be absolutely secure.

*Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.
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