Supercharge Your VMware vSAN Clusters with the Intel® Optane™ SSD P5800X

Both economic pressures and new ways of doing business after the pandemic are accelerating the need for digital transformation and data center modernization across all industries. Adopting hyperconverged solutions in today’s hybrid/multicloud environment is one way that companies are achieving operational efficiency and workload consolidation. But these infrastructure changes are driving more I/O demand and pushing current systems to their limits. New compute and network technologies are emerging to handle today’s data-intensive workloads.

IT organizations can no longer afford to use system components that limit their ability to scale cost-effectively. For data center architects who support digital transformation strategies, VMware solutions running on Intel® Optane™ technology enable consistent, high-performance application experiences. The combined solutions help reduce modernization costs while increasing business agility.

Meet Your New VMware vSAN Hero: Intel Optane SSD P5800X

Intel Optane technology enhances the value of VMware solutions for digital transformation. From server virtualization to HCI to hybrid cloud architectures, organizations that run VMware vSphere, VMware vSAN, VMware Cloud Foundation, or VMware Horizon with Intel Optane technology can enjoy:

  • Reduced capital and operating expenses (CapEx and OpEx)
  • Support for more remote users, faster database transactions, and better user collaboration
  • Increased agility to quickly respond to new infrastructure needs

You’re probably wondering—what’s so special about Intel Optane SSDs? Can they really make a difference in my VMware environment? The answer is yes—the unique design of Intel Optane SSDs makes them ideal for fast caching or tiering of hot data.

In fact, the Intel Optane SSD P5800X is considered the world’s fastest data center SSD.[i] It has up 23x lower latency, 5.6x more IOPS, and 9x higher throughput than NAND SSDs.[ii] The Intel Optane SSD P5800X is the second generation of Intel Optane SSDs, a PCIe Gen 4 SSD with an advanced controller to deliver “no-compromises” read and write I/O performance. It also has high endurance (100 drive writes per day and a mean time between failures of 2 million hours), providing unprecedented value over legacy storage in the accelerating world of intelligent data. Read more at Enable Unprecedented Storage Value with Intel® Optane™ SSD P5800X.

Reduce VMware vSAN Bottlenecks

Block Diagram of where Intel Optane lays in the system

VMware vSAN serves as a critical building block for the software-defined data center and for private and public cloud deployments. VMware vSAN architecture consists of two tiers: a cache tier for the purpose of read caching and write buffering, and a capacity tier for persistent storage. Use of Intel Optane SSDs in the cache tier can significantly improve VMware vSAN performance, which in turn can lead to better customer satisfaction, more productivity, and a competitive advantage including:

  • Node consolidation for lower costs and smaller footprint. Intel Optane SSDs as cache enable a higher VM density per host. Fewer hosts per cluster helps reduce hardware and software acquisition costs and server footprint. Intel Optane SSDs can reduce node count by up to 30 percent at 20 percent lower costs, when comparing the combination of a 3rd Generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable processor and the latest-generation Intel Optane SSD to the previous-generation processor and SSD.[iii]
  • Consistently high throughput. Because Intel Optane SSDs are a write-in-place media, they provide a significantly higher write throughput than NAND flash SSDs. This performance difference enables up to 80 percent higher write throughput with the Intel Optane SSD P5800X, compared to typical NVMe NAND drives (see figure below bullets).[iv] An SSD with higher write throughput increases performance of the VMware vSAN two-tier architecture because all writes must go through the cache device.
  • Higher IOPS. By combining 3rd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors and the latest-generation Intel Optane SSD, VMware vSAN users can achieve up to 40 percent more IOPS in a mixed workload profile, compared to 2nd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors and an Intel Optane SSD DCP4800X.[v]
  • Predictably low latency. Intel Optane SSDs use bit-level (not page-level) write operations, which eliminates time-consuming garbage collection and drives down Response time remains consistently low even when workload I/O demands spike unexpectedly. The predictable response time of Intel Optane SSDs means that even with volatile workloads, or more workloads per VM, organizations can continue to meet SLAs.

Graph showing Higher Predictability and Performance with Intel® Optane™ SSD P5800X
Learn more about the Intel Optane SSD P5800X and how it can help transform your VMware vSAN clusters and your business.


[i] [14] at https://e.intel.com/content/www/us/en/products/performance/benchmarks/intel-optane-ssd-p5800x-series/

[ii] [5], [6], and [7] at https://e.intel.com/content/www/us/en/products/performance/benchmarks/intel-optane-ssd-p5800x-series/

[iii] Testing by Intel as of May 10, 2021. Based on 280 VMs - 4 vCPUs per VM, 8 GB MEM, 125 GB usable storage capacity, up to 1,500 IOPS per VM running a 70/30 32 KB I/O load. Overheads and optimal utilization levels were considered in calculations. Results may vary.

New Configuration: 4 nodes, 2x Intel® Xeon® Gold 6348 processor, (28 cores, 2.6 GHz), total memory = 256 GB (16 slots/32 GB/3200 MT/s), Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology = ON, Intel® Turbo Boost Technology = ON, 2x Intel® Optane™ SSD  P5800X (cache) 400 GB and 8x Intel® SSD D7-P5510 3.84 TB (capacity), 1x Intel® Ethernet Adapter E810C 100 GbE, BIOS = 2.1 (ucode = 0x8d055260), VMware vSphere 7.0U2, vSAN 7.0U2, HCIbench 2.5.3, 8x VMs per host, 2x 150 GB vDisks per VM, 100% WSS.

Baseline Configuration: 4 nodes, 2x Intel® Xeon® Gold 6248 processor (20 cores, 2.5 GHz), total memory = 384 GB (12 slots/32 GB/2933 MT/s), Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology = ON, Intel® Turbo Boost Technology = ON, 2x Intel® Optane™ SSD DC P4800X (cache) 375 GB and 8x Intel SSD D7-P5510 3.84 TB (capacity), 1x Intel Ethernet Adapter E810C 100 GbE, BIOS = 2.1 (ucode = 05003003), VMware vSphere 7.0U2, vSAN 7.0U2, HCIbench 2.5.3, 8x VMs per host, 2x 150 GB vDisks per VM, 100% WSS.

[iv] Testing by Intel as of May 10, 2021.

Intel® Optane™ SSD Configuration: 4 nodes, 2x Intel® Xeon® Gold 6348 processor (28 cores, 2.6 GHz), total memory = 256 GB (16 slots/16 GB/3200 MT/s), Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology = ON, Intel® Turbo Boost Technology = ON, 2x Intel® Optane™ SSD  P5800X (cache) 400 GB and 8x Intel® SSD D7-P5510 3.84 TB (capacity), 1x Intel® Ethernet Adapter E810C 100 GbE, BIOS = 2.1 (ucode = 05003003), VMware vSphere 7.0U2, HCIbench 2.5.3.

Intel® SSD D7-5600 Configuration: 4 nodes, 2x Intel® Xeon® Gold 6348 processor (28 cores, 2.6 GHz), total memory = 256 GB (16 slots/16 GB/3200 MT/s), Intel Hyper-Threading Technology = ON, Intel Turbo Boost Technology = ON, 2x Intel® SSD D7-P5600 (cache) 1.6 TB and 8x Intel SSD D7-P5510 3.84 TB (capacity), 1x Intel Ethernet Adapter E810C 100 GbE, BIOS = 2.1 (ucode = 0x8d055260), VMware vSphere 7.0U2, HCIbench 2.5.3.

[v]Testing by Intel as of May 10, 2021. Based on 280 VMs - 4 vCPUs per VM, 8 GB MEM, 125 GB usable storage capacity, up to 1,500 IOPS per VM running a 70/30 32 KB I/O load. Overheads and optimal utilization levels were considered in calculations. Results may vary.

New Configuration: 4 nodes, 2x Intel® Xeon® Gold 6348 processor, (28 cores, 2.6 GHz), total memory = 256 GB (16 slots/32 GB/3200 MT/s), Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology = ON, Intel® Turbo Boost Technology = ON, 2x Intel® Optane™ SSD  P5800X (cache) 400 GB and 8x Intel® SSD D7-P5510 3.84 TB (capacity), 1x Intel® Ethernet Adapter E810C 100 GbE, BIOS = 2.1 (ucode = 0x8d055260), VMware vSphere 7.0U2, vSAN 7.0U2, HCIbench 2.5.3, 8x VMs per host, 2x 150 GB vDisks per VM, 100% WSS.

Baseline Configuration: 4 nodes, 2x Intel® Xeon® Gold 6248 processor (20 cores, 2.5 GHz), total memory = 384 GB (12 slots/32 GB/2933 MT/s), Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology = ON, Intel® Turbo Boost Technology = ON, 2x Intel® Optane™ SSD DC P4800X (cache) 375 GB and 8x Intel SSD D7-P5510 3.84 TB (capacity), 1x Intel Ethernet Adapter E810C 100 GbE, BIOS = 2.1 (ucode = 05003003), VMware vSphere 7.0U2, vSAN 7.0U2, HCIbench 2.5.3, 8x VMs per host, 2x 150 GB vDisks per VM, 100% WSS.

[vi] Testing by Intel as of May 10, 2021.

Intel® Optane™ SSD Configuration: 4 nodes, 2x Intel® Xeon® Gold 6348 processor (28 cores, 2.6 GHz), total memory = 256 GB (16 slots/16 GB/3200 MT/s), Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology = ON, Intel® Turbo Boost Technology = ON, 2x Intel® Optane™ SSD P5800X (cache) 400 GB and 8x Intel® SSD D7-P5510 3.84 TB (capacity), 1x Intel® Ethernet Adapter E810C 100 GbE, BIOS = 2.1 (ucode = 05003003), VMware vSphere 7.0U2, HCIbench 2.5.3.

Intel® SSD D7-5600 Configuration: 4 nodes, 2x Intel® Xeon® Gold 6348 processor (28 cores, 2.6 GHz), total memory = 256 GB (16 slots/16 GB/3200 MT/s), Intel Hyper-Threading Technology = ON, Intel Turbo Boost Technology = ON, 2x Intel® SSD D7-P5600 (cache) 1.6 TB and 8x Intel SSD D7-P5510 3.84 TB (capacity), 1x Intel Ethernet Adapter E810C 100 GbE, BIOS = 2.1 (ucode = 0x8d055260), VMware vSphere 7.0U2, HCIbench 2.5.3.