Workstation Performance Collaboration with Dell and Intel Cache Acceleration Software

The more innovation that is built into Intel® architecture, the more opportunities our ecosystem, collaborators, and customers find to create new usage models with Intel® technology. Over the last nine months, Intel and Dell collaborated to build a new caching product known as Intel® Cache Acceleration Software Workstation, or Intel® CAS-W for short. This effort has been one of the best opportunities of my career to work with a customer to innovate on our caching algorithms, testing, validation and delivery. The teams worked long and hard with industry-leading ISVs, like Autodesk, ANSYS and SolidWorks, to test some of today’s most demanding workloads. See a powerful demonstration of Intel Cache Acceleration Software with Dell and Autodesk here.

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Before getting into results, I want to share how this journey began. In February of 2013, we met with the Dell Workstation* architecture team led by Munif Farhan to discuss how to improve our Intel® RSTe device driver (RAID Software, TRIM, data protection and future technologies). We proposed developing a workstation specific caching solution for improving the performance of the new Dell Precision Workstations based on the new Xeon® E5 product line. We showed Munif how we thought our technology could transform how the industry thinks about I/O platform performance.

Typically, Intel has relied on “on-die” Level 1, Level 2 and Level 3 Cache technologies to improve IOPS performance for the Xeon platform. Our largest Level 3 Cache size is 30MB, on the Intel Xeon E5-2697 v2. But for today’s most demanding workloads, 30MB is insufficient to deliver the scale, optimization and size for required IOPS performance. Intel CAS was designed to take advantage of SSD technology and provide a Level 4 Cache capable of improving the performance of applications using HDDs in the workstation or server. This Level 4 Cache capability allows users to “pin” files to the cache and unlike most caching solutions today, Intel CAS is optimized for Microsoft Windows* 7 environments (See Complete Chart for Support here ). It is not block-based caching and scales up to the size of the SSD in the workstation.

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Adam Smith one said “On the road to the City of Skepticism, I had to pass through the valley of ambiguity.” In this project we challenged the skepticism and ambiguity of the status quo and achieved impressive results. Our increases in I/O performance have been as much as 180% for certain applications, and 40-50% on others. We are now able to cache multiple workloads and drive consistent performance improvement as you can see in the chart above. The project has also laid the foundation for future collaboration with PCIe and SSDs on next-generation caching technologies. We’re excited that our customers can further experience the consistent performance benefits they have come to expect from Dell and Intel. We will continue to innovate, evolve and add additional features in data protection, multinode, RAID and cache management. The journey has just begun and we look forward to the collaborations and innovations to come. Learn more and start reaping the benefits of Intel® Cache Acceleration Software today.