Technical Sneak Peek on Intel® Optane™ Persistent Memory with Microsoft Azure Stack HCI

Many IT departments are looking at hyper-converged infrastructure (HCI) to replace their traditional storage area networks (SANs). HCI consolidates software-defined compute, storage, and networking to provide easily scalable virtualization that is high performing and affordable.

Microsoft first introduced HCI in Windows Server 2016 with Storage Spaces Direct and Hyper-V. Storage Spaces Direct uses industry-standard servers with local-attached drives, simplifying procurement and deployment. Storage Spaces Direct in Windows Server 2016 supported new technologies (at the time) such as NVMe and RDMA over Converged Ethernet (RoCE).

With Windows Server 2019, Microsoft Azure Stack HCI now supports persistent memory (PMem) technology. Used as cache or capacity, PMem can retain its memory content even when the system powers down in the event of an unexpected power loss, user-initiated shutdown, or system crash. Because of this, resuming where you left off is significantly faster because the contents of your RAM doesn’t need to be reloaded.

At Microsoft Ignite 2019, Microsoft’s Cosmos Darwin discussed Windows Server 2019’s native support for Intel®  Optane™ DC persistent memory, demonstrating that 12 servers with 24 PMem devices could achieve 13.7M IOPS, which is a new HCI IOPS record! That’s more than double the previous industry-leading benchmark of 6.7M IOPS that was reached just two years earlier. Intel developed Intel® Optane™ DC persistent memory in conjunction with 2nd Generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors to address the need for rapid data processing for large memory-bound workloads. Virtual machines (VMs) are requiring bigger amounts of data and having larger memory capacity near the CPU means that customers can support more VMs and more memory per VM as a cost lower than typical DRAM. With Windows Server 2019, customers can realize 33% more system memory, 36% more VMs per node all at a 30% lower hardware cost.


Testing with DataON solutions for Azure Stack HCI

We wanted to see for ourselves how PMem performs in our DataON solutions for Azure Stack HCI so we setup a rack in our test lab.

This is the configuration of our test rack: From testing, the results showed:

  • Vast improvements in 100% sequential read performance. The test configuration with persistent memory increased 106%.
  • Big improvements in latency performance. Almost all latency numbers were greatly improved except 100% sequential write.

While there were significant increases in sequential read performance and latency, there’s still some optimization needed with write operations. The promise of 13.7M IOPS from Microsoft and Intel’s reference configuration can’t be overlooked and we’ll be working with both Microsoft and Intel to tweak our configurations.

DataON is the ONLY vendor to offer solutions for Azure Stack HCI with Intel® Optane™ persistent memory

DataON is an Intel Platinum Partner with solutions powered by the latest Intel technologies, including 2nd generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors, Intel® NVMe drives, and Intel® Optane™ SSDs and persistent memory. DataON is the ONLY vendor with Microsoft-validated solutions for Azure Stack HCI that support PMem. In addition, DataON offers EIGHT solutions with Intel® Optane™ persistent memory!

Contact us if you have questions about Microsoft Azure Stack HCI solutions or Intel® Optane™ persistent memory.