ZT Systems Customized Server Hardware and Intel SSDs Case Study

case study
Intel® Xeon® Processor 5500 Series
High Performance Computing:
Energy Efficiency, Environment, and Performance
ZT Systems* and Intel: Innovative
Solid-State Drive Solutions
ZT Systems* server solutions, featuring optimized Intel® Solid-State Drives, balance storage performance and
endurance to meet enterprise companies’ unique requirements.
ZT Systems customizes server hardware and delivery, with platforms incorporating Intel® Solid-State Drive (SSD)
solutions optimized based on individual customers’ specific priorities—performance, longevity, energy efficiency,
cost-effectiveness, or ease of deployment. These customized server storage solutions enable customers to take full
advantage of the increased performance of SSDs, while allocating capacity as required to promote improved endurance.
Challenges
•Balancing performance and endurance. One SSD solution does not fit all, as every
company has unique workloads and unique storage needs.
•A cost-effective solution. Each stakeholder has a different viewpoint when it comes
to the investment of a new storage solution.
Solutions
•Overprovisioning. Reconfiguring the Intel® X25-M and Intel® X25-E SSDs meets
enhanced customer requirements for endurance and performance.
•Proof of concept. When acquisition approval is a hurdle, an in-house test and a
cost-per-input/output performance analysis helps stakeholders see the long-term
value of the investment.
Impact
•Customized solution. ZT Systems offers customized solutions to address customers’
specific needs, for a maximum return on investment.
The New Storage Landscape
“There is a major shift in
storage—we are just at the
beginning of SSD technology
innovation. We’ve gone from
hard disk drives that have
been performing at 400 IOPS
per second for 20 years to
SDDs now performing at over
60,000 IOPS per second.”
– Bob Weisickle
Chief Technology Officer
ZT Systems
Intel® SSDs have transformed the storage
landscape, enabling companies like ZT
Systems, a leading provider of server
solutions, to offer three-tiered storage
solutions to their clients. “The introduction
of SSDs has created a change in the
storage hierarchy,” said Bob Weisickle,
chief technology officer at ZT Systems.
Tier one, the high-performance storage
device, used to be 10K to 15K hard
disk drive (HDD). The reliable and highperformance SSD is now the tier-one
solution. In the past, tier two consisted
of offline tape solutions. Now the HDD
is the tier-two storage solution, and the
tape solution is relegated to a new tier:
tier three—the backup solution.
“In some cases, we’re using SSDs as cache
devices,” said Weisickle. “The information
that’s really hot is moved onto the
SSD dynamically, so all the active data
is accessed from the SSD and all the
archived data is moved to the hard disk.”
Improved Performance
Unlike HDDs, with traditional spinning
magnetic media, there are no moving
parts in an Intel SSD, which means there
is almost no risk of mechanical failure.
The lack of moving parts in an SSD also
leads to another improvement—much
lower power consumption when
compared to an HDD.
Intel SSD design innovations remove
the input/output (IO) bottleneck often
found on other SSDs. In fact, Intel highperformance Serial Advanced Technology
Attachment (SATA) SSDs are uniquely
engineered to deliver outstanding
performance and reliability.
Unlike most other SSDs, an Intel SATA
SSD includes a native SATA interface
that works seamlessly with newer PCs,
enabling read rates of up to 250 MB.
Other innovations, including 10 parallel
flash channels and Native Command
Queuing (NCQ) allow for concurrent
operations, which leads to significantly
higher input/output per second (IOPS) and
throughput performance when compared
to other SSDs.
The result: an Intel SSD provides a cooler,
quieter server platform, with faster
system performance.
Customizable Storage Solution
ZT Systems recently delivered a
customized SSD storage solution to
one of their clients—a leading provider
of online content delivery that handles
tens of billions of daily Web interactions.
The client operates a worldwide
network of servers in large data center
installations, and turned to ZT Systems
for a solution to meet its expanding
performance needs.
“They were struggling with the
performance of their existing hard diskbased server solutions,” said Weisickle.
“The higher the utilization of the server
performance, and the more you can get
out of that capital investment, the better.
From the storage perspective, typically
the rotating disks are the bottleneck. The
customized SSD-based server solution ZT
designed allowed them to do more work
with fewer servers.”
The cost of power, operating expenses,
and the environmental impact were also
top-of-mind. “SSDs use a fraction of the
power of a rotating disk,” said Weisickle.
“When multiplied across thousands of
servers—that turns into significant
energy usage reduction and cost savings.”
“Intel stepped forward and helped us
with a proof of concept early on,” said
Weisickle. ZT and Intel emulated the
customer’s software load to determine
the optimal configurations. “We deployed
Intel SSD-based server solutions into the
client’s production environment, and Intel
helped us analyze the performance
and endurance data to ensure it met
the customer’s requirements.”
Overprovisioning
The performance of an Intel SATA SSD can
be tailored to meet specific user criteria
by overprovisioning, which is a method
of utilizing the capacity of the drive to
maximize different characteristics. After
working with the customer to analyze
and prioritize specific requirements for
endurance, performance, and capacity,
ZT Systems was able to reduce usable
capacity and utilize the fixed amount
of flash memory in the SSD to enhance
performance and reliability to best fit the
customer’s specific workload.
“It’s actually a great analogy for how we
work with customers,” said Travis Scott,
director of marketing at ZT Systems.
“With SSD-based server solutions, we
are optimizing known vectors based on
the individual client’s priorities. But we
do this at every level of engagement,
from collaborating with customers to
optimize energy-efficient platforms based
on existing standard non-proprietary
technology, to developing creative ways
to deliver servers for maximum ease of
deployment—all with an eye to creating
precision-fit solutions that provide the
best overall value.”
Intel and ZT Systems
“Because of our deep engagement with
customers, we often function as a virtual
extension of our clients’ engineering
teams,” said Weisickle. ZT works with
clients as a trusted technical advisor,
helping them review the latest available
technologies. SSDs have been one of
those technologies, and ZT has monitored
the technology and consulted with their
clients as it continues to emerge.
“ZT is ‘vendor agnostic’ when it comes
to selecting components—we’re looking
for solutions that are a best fit for the
customer’s requirements,” said Scott. “For
this application, the Intel X25-M SSD fit
the bill, as an industry-recognized, highquality product with a high degree of
reliability. And our close relationship with
Intel, enabling a collaborative dialogue
between Intel’s engineers and ours, was
invaluable when it came to
the optimization work.”
What to expect from SSDs
Hard disk drives have a long data history
that shows the typical capital lifespan
is between three and five years, while
the endurance rates of SSDs are still being
studied. In a research paper published by
Google*, failure information was pulled
over a 5-year interval. The annual failure
rates (AFRs) ranged from 1.7% in hard disk
drives that were in their first year of use
to more than 8.6% in HDDs that were 3
years old or older1.
Because SSD technology is relatively new
and there is limited historical data, it can
lead to a wait-and-see attitude for some
companies. ZT Systems polls data from
the SSD drive to assuage that fear. “It’s
like a gas gauge that tells how much
life the drive has left,” said Weisickle.
“It makes you comfortable, knowing that
these SSDs will last three to five years.
“There is a major shift in storage,” said
Weisickle. “We are just at the beginning of
SSD technology innovation. We’ve gone
from hard disk drives that have been
performing at 400 IOPS for 20 years to
SDDs now performing at over 60,000
IOPS per second.
The order of magnitude of this
improvement has revolutionary
implications for our data center server
customers in general and specifically
our cloud computing customers.”
The performance of an Intel SATA
SSD can be tailored to meet specific
user criteria by overprovisioning.
Overprovisioning an Intel Solid-State Drive (SSD)
SSD
Workload
read/
write
Block
Size
TCO
Reduction
I/O
Performance IOPS
Improvement Gain
Reduction
in Power
Previous
Hard
Drive Disc
(HDD)
Total
Total
SSD
Total HDD
Consumed
Storage
HDD
Capacity
Total
Usable
SSD
Capacity
Intel MLC 120 GB
95/5
4k
$19,688.31
397%
53,761.53
96%
40
8
876
960
Intel MLC 160 GB
95/5
4k
$21,152.37
169%
22,915.53
97%
40
6
876
960
Intel SLC
95/5
4k
$18,782.34
1151%
115,973.35
97%
40
7
438
448
Intel MLC 120 GB
65/35
4k
$19,688.31
84%
12,674.67
96%
40
8
876
960
Intel MLC 120 GB
95/5
16k
$23,551.61
181%
11,288.32
98%
40
5
526
600
Intel MLC 160 GB
95/5
16k
$24,283.64
35%
2,211.07
98%
40
4
526
640
Intel MLC 120 GB
65/35
16k
$23,551.61
161%
6,963.88
98%
40
5
526
600
Through custom configuration of an Intel® Solid-State Drive from 160 GB to 120GB, ZT Systems improved performance and endurance, resulting in a lower total cost
of ownership for applications that have a higher mix of writes to reads. Testing was done on an Intel® Core™2 Duo CPU E4500 at 2.20GHz and 1GB PC2-5300 DRAM,
running Microsoft Windows* XP SP3 O/S and Intel® Matrix Storage Manager 2.
1 See “Failure Trends in a Large Disk Drive Population” at http://labs.google.com/papers/disk_failures.html.
2 Measurements made using desktop system with Intel® Core™2 Duo CPU E4500 at 2.20GHz and 1GB PC2-5300 DRAM, running Microsoft* Windows* XP SP3 O/S and Intel® Matrix Storage Manager. Performance measurements are made
using specific computer systems and/or components and reflect the approximate performance of the technology as measured by those tests. Any difference in system hardware or software design or configuration may affect actual results. Visit
http://www.snia.org/forums/sssi/programs/TCOcalc for more information.
This document and the information given are for the convenience of Intel’s customer base and are provided “AS IS” WITH NO WARRANTIES WHATSOEVER, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING ANY IMPLIED WARRANTY OF MERCHANTABILITY, FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, AND NON-INFRINGEMENT OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS. Receipt or possession of this document does not grant any license to any of the intellectual property described,
displayed, or contained herein. Intel products are not intended for use in medical, life-saving, life-sustaining, critical control, or safety systems, or in nuclear facility applications.
Performance tests and ratings are measured using specific computer systems and/or components and reflect the approximate performance of Intel products as measured by those tests. Any difference in system hardware or software design or
configuration may affect actual performance. Intel may make changes to specifications, product descriptions and plans at any time, without notice.
© 2010, Intel Corporation. All rights reserved. Intel, the Intel logo are trademarks of Intel Corporation in the U.S. and other countries.
*Other names and brands may be claimed as the property of others.
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