Low-Latency Media + High-Bandwidth CPUs = A Match Made in Heaven

A frequently asked question by database administrators is: Why is storage technology so slow to keep up with processor advances?

The most recent multi-core CPUs can pump out data faster than most storage options available today can read or write,  creating a performance bottleneck.

In parallel with Moore’s Law, CPU performance has consistently improved over the years. This has been the case, however, with storage latency, making drives the weak link that degrades the performance of the entire system. CPU cycles are wasted as processors are stuck waiting for storage medias to transfer data to and from their place of origin.

Essentially, the problem comes down to an imbalance between bandwidth, which is the amount of data that can be accessed or processed at one time, and latency, which is the amount of time it takes for a given amount of data to make the trip from source to destination. Ideally, you want a perfect balance between bandwidth and latency so that no part of the system becomes a bottleneck and data-hungry processors can be more fully utilized.

A New Balance

In comes the solution. Intel Optane media decreases latency for storage significantly, so the entire system can reach its potential for processing data faster.

One way Intel Optane media can be deployed is as PCIe NVM Express (NVMe) storage. Intel Optane DC SSDs offer an average idle latency of about 10 microseconds, compared with more than 80 microseconds for NAND SSDs, as shown in Figure 1.1 That low latency makes these SSDs ideal for fast caching or tiering of hot data.

Intel Optane media can also be deployed as Intel Optane DC persistent memory, available on modules that plug into DIMM slots. Intel Optane DC persistent memory boasts an average idle read latency between 100 and 340 nanoseconds (ns).2 This form factor offers persistence and large-capacity memory—up to 512 GB per module.

Filling the Capacity and Performance Gaps

There are several ways in which businesses can take advantage of the high performance and low-latency characteristics of Intel Optane media to fill system gaps in capacity and performance. For example, Intel Optane DC persistent memory can be used to significantly increase capacity for in-memory databases. And because persistent memory is non-volatile, data does not need to be reloaded from disk after a database restart. Businesses can also use Intel Optane DC SSDs for fast caching, as an alternative to costly, limited-capacity DRAM, or to significantly expand VMware virtual machine (VM) density on high capacity, low latency storage.

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