Intel Optane the new benchmark SSD to beat

Posted on Posted in Hardware, vSAN

Intel Optane the new benchmark SSD to beat

 

For a very long time Intel 3700 series of SSDs has held the crown as the best all round SSD for the enterprise market. Intel did something special with this line of SSDs. They stop talking IOPS and latency at least as the main focus and started focusing on where it really would hurt mainstream storage vendors. What was new was QoS or consistency and power loss protection. These features are enterprise graded. Many vendors will claim that they have power loss protection, but non-like Intel did and even today, you have to understand the vendor’s power loss protection in order to validate if it is any good for your needs. This of course was not what hit most medias covering the SSD market. What Intel really changed here was the QoS you could expect from an SSD. Before the S3700 and later on the P3700 came to market every benchmark and site covering SSD or flash as some like to call it, was all about IOPS. The one who did the highest amount of IOPS, won. Period.

That all changed with the Intel 3700 series. Today any respectable site or news media test for the consistency of the SSD as a valuable metric for knowing how well it would do under pressure and for how long. These kind of tests would expose poor garbage collect cycle and SSDs, which could do high IOPS for a very short time before plumbing into chaos. As an example this poor man’s SSD, might do 100.000 IOPS for the first 30 seconds only to then drop vertically to somewhere between 0-1000 IOPS.

Image your car being able to go 100km/h for the first 30 minutes of your journey, only to after 30 minutes drop to between 10km/h and 50km/h and constantly in an erratic behavior change speed up and down. This was how SSD use to be and for some vendors still are today. Intel helped get the SSD market into shape. The clearest example of this is Samsung’s 950 and 960 Pro series, which while still being consumer-graded hardware, delivers an immense speed and performance consistency. Even Samsung’s low-end series of EVO SSD has some of these characteristics, which makes Samsung’s Pro series or Intel 3700 series so great for prosumers and enterprises alike.

Well this is not a blog about has been, but about what Intel is promising to bring to market…

The Intel Optane DC P4800X!

Intel Optane is built upon the 3D Xpoint (pronounced: cross point) NAND technology. Which Intel has promised to once again change the industry. What is it that makes 3D Xpoint so good, you might ask. Well simply stated, it is better on all parameters. Lower latency, better QoS and higher endurance. Not everything is rainbows and unicorns, as what Intel had bragged about, was something much better than this and it seems to be a few years later to market than first anticipated. Let us forget all of that and take a look at what is to come.

ProductCapacityLatencyThroughputEndurance
P4800X375 GB<10usIOPS rnd 4k R/W: 550,000/500,000

IOPS rnd 4k 70/30 R/W: 500,000

30 DWPD

12.3 PBW

P3700400 GB20usIOPS rnd 4k R/W: 460,000/175,000

IOPS rnd 4k 70/30 R/W: 265,000

10 DWPD

7.3  PBW

 

As the table shows half the latency, around double throughput and an endurance rating that is three times higher than the Intel DC P3700 400GB SSD.

 

The only problem with all of these numbers are that no third party have verified them. Therefore, until someone puts out a benchmark showing just how good or bad it is, all we have is Intel’s word. At first P4800X’s capacity is only 375GB, but the promise is that 750 GB and 1500 GB SSDs will follow later this year.

 vSAN got Optane support

VMware was quick to follow up on Intel’s announcement and they self-announce that vSAN would support Intel’s Optane from day one. No update needed. No nothing. However, they still might need to update the vSAN HCL list as it has yet to show Optane as being supported by VMware.

Nevertheless, with those kinds of performance numbers, no wonder VMware is quick to jump on the bandwagon. As an Intel Optane for cache will do wonders for performance and endurance in any vSAN environment. Pair that with a QoS which is out of the world. Your days of looking at the storage as the bottleneck of the modern enterprise might just be over. If only Optane could also fix the network…