A New Class of Storage: Data Reduction meets 3D XPoint

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The Intel Optane DC P4800X looks like a typical PCIe NVMe SSD – with one key difference.  Instead of using traditional NAND flash, it uses the much-anticipated 3D XPoint non-volatile memory technology developed by Intel and Micron. As the folks over at note, “3D XPoint enables this SSD to deliver high throughput and lower access latency than any other NVMe SSD on the market.”

The use of 3D XPoint means that this drive has a few unique characteristics.  First, it is able to sustain speeds of 500k 4 KB IOPS (for a 70/30 read write mix) without requiring large capacity.  Second, it exhibits low and extremely predictable average latencies when compared to other SSDs, with Intel reporting 99.999% QoS metrics.  In short, this isn’t your typical SSD.  While there certainly are other SSDs which are able to deliver this kind of performance, they’re far larger (most are multi-terrabyte devices).  Also, none of the current generation can sustain this kind of performance over time.  The Optane SSD provides plenty of performance, but its low capacity may be problematic and that’s where data reduction comes in to the discussion. Depending on the data mix, data reduction can increase effective capacity by 6X or more.

To understand how data reduction can impact the Optane SSD, you need to look at other drives on the market. A comparable SSD-based drive, the Micron 9100 MAX, is available in a 2.4 TB configuration that exhibits similar performance characteristics.  The Micron SSD lists for $1.36 per GB,  but the Optane SSD lists for $4.05/GB — it’s 3 times more expensive. 

Cost of Physical Storage

When the Optane SSD is used with data reduction software such as Permabit’s Virtual Data Optimizer (VDO) the cost equation changes dramatically. With typical data reduction rates of 6:1 in the virtual machine and container environments used to power today’s cloud computing, the logical cost per GB for an Optane SSD drops to 68 cents — 50% less expensive than the Micron SSD. 

Cost with Data Reduction

Even with the performance overhead of a data reduction solution, the Optane SSD should be able to deliver comparable performance to the $1.36 per GB Micron SSD at half the cost. I’m hoping to investigate the VDO + Optane combination’s performance more rigorously in the coming weeks — stay tuned.


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Louis Imershein As Vice President of Product at Permabit, Louis Imershein is responsible for product management and strategic planning. He has 25 years of technical leadership experience in product management, software development and technical support. Prior to Permabit, Imershein was a Senior Product Marketing Manager for the Sun Microsystems Data Management Group. Before joining Sun, he was at SCO where his titles included Product Manager, Software Architect and Senior Technical Lead. Imershein has a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Science from the University of California, Santa Cruz and has earned certificates in software design, device driver development, system administration, and software testing.

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