Dell PowerEdge R930 SanDisk Fusion ioMemory SX350

Dell PowerEdge R930 SanDisk Fusion ioMemory SX350
A Principled Technologies report: Hands-on testing. Real-world results.
SanDisk Fusion ioMemory application
accelerators take your Dell EMC
PowerEdge server to the next level
The PowerEdge R930 did more work with
Fusion ioMemory SX350 application accelerators
Enterprises are constantly searching for ways to maximize server
performance. While flash-based solid-state storage has dramatically
improved CPU and memory utilization, the newest approach
is moving data even closer to compute through Peripheral
Component Interconnect Express, or PCIe. Unlike earlier types of
SSDs that require controllers that can slow data transfer, PCIe cards
such as SanDisk® Fusion ioMemory™ SX350 application accelerators
connect directly to the server’s PCIe bus, which translates to
extreme processing speed.
In the Principled Technologies datacenter, we configured a Dell
EMC™ PowerEdge™ R930 server two ways—with eight SATA
SSDs and with two SanDisk Fusion ioMemory SX350-3200 PCIe
application accelerator cards. We set up Microsoft® SQL Server®
2016 virtual machines and slammed them with a heavy workload
to see how the different storage options affected performance.
Serve more customers
simultaneously and faster
43% more
orders per minute
Reduce latency for a better
customer experience
up to 84% lower latency
The R930 with two SanDisk Fusion ioMemory cards in a softwaremirrored configuration outperformed the R930 with eight SATA
SSDs, processing 43 percent more database orders per minute
while also reducing latency by as much as 84 percent. These
results show that the SanDisk configuration is far better equipped
to handle periods of peak database load, which means your
customers and your business benefit.
SanDisk Fusion ioMemory application accelerators take your Dell EMC PowerEdge server to the next level
March 2017
Quantifying the SanDisk Fusion ioMemory advantage
To learn how these two storage options affected the performance of our Dell EMC PowerEdge R930 test
server, we set up a Microsoft Windows Server® 2016 Hyper-V® environment and then used the DVD Store 2.1
benchmark to generate an online transaction processing (OLTP) workload. We tested the R930 with the SanDisk
application accelerators in a Windows® Storage Spaces RAID1 pool, for maximum data protection. We added
SQL Server 2016 virtual machines until aggregate performance across all VMs, measured in orders per minute
(OPM), levelled off. In this way, we learned that the SanDisk configuration could support 23 SQL Server 2016
VMs running in parallel.
We then configured the R930 with eight SATA SSDs in a RAID10 volume and measured performance using the
identical workload, 23 simultaneous SQL Server 2016 VMs.
Storage, a primer
For many years, servers and other computers have
used spinning hard disk drives (HDDs) to store
operating systems, applications, and data. Like oldfashioned record players, hard disks include reading
arms that hover above the disk as it spins.
Solid state technology uses flash memory chips that
function like HDDs but are much faster. They don’t
spin or fragment data the way that HDDs do, so
retrieving data from them is much quicker. There are
several different types of solid state drives, each with
its own type of interface.
Serial ATA (SATA) SSDs are prevalent in today’s
datacenters. They can process data at around 600
MB per second, a great deal faster than the fastest
HDDs at 120 MB per second. Serial Attached SCSI
(SAS) SSDs roughly double the rate of SATA SSDs, to
1,200 MB per second.
Peripheral Component Interconnect Express is the
newest approach to solid state storage. Unlike SATA
and SAS drives, which require controllers that can
slow down data transfer, PCIe storage connects
directly to the PCIe bus of the server, which greatly
increases processing speed. The SanDisk Fusion
ioMemory SX350 application accelerators we used in
our testing, the SX350-3200 model, are rated at 2.8
GB per second, equal to 2,867 MB per second.1
SanDisk Fusion ioMemory application accelerators take your Dell EMC PowerEdge server to the next level
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More transactions
As the chart below shows, the Dell EMC PowerEdge R930, when
outfitted with two SanDisk Fusion ioMemory SX350 application
accelerator cards, processed 43 percent more OPM across the 23
virtual machines than it did when configured with eight SATA SSDs.
Orders per minute
R930 with 2 SanDisk PCIe cards
R930 with 8 SATA SSDs
Latency and user experience
In database applications, latency is a measure of how long hardware
and software take to respond to a request. Requests can involve either
retrieving or saving data, which translate to read and write operations
respectively. When storage keeps up with the pace of requests,
latency is low and users enjoy speedy response times. During
periods of heavy activity, bottlenecks can occur, creating a queue of
outstanding requests. Latency increases and users experience delays;
the more time-sensitive the transactions are, the more damaging
these delays become.
Because SanDisk Fusion ioMemory SX350 application accelerators
connect directly to the system bus, they eliminate additional paths
that data would need to traverse with traditional solid-state storage.
These paths have an inherent latency penalty and avoiding them
helps the SanDisk PCIe cards deliver the much faster response times
we observed in our testing.
The value of proximity
Imagine that server storage is like the
supply warehouse for a small retail shop.
To keep the shelves stocked, workers must
retrieve products from a storage location.
HDDs would be like using a hand truck to
transport items from a warehouse down the
road—doable but slow. SATA or SAS SSDs
would be like using a car to retrieve the
same goods—the process would be much
faster but the distance would be the same.
With SanDisk Fusion ioMemory PCIe
application accelerators, the storage area is
on site in a back room. Data is stored much
closer to where the computing happens, so
applications retrieve it much more quickly.
R930 with
2 SanDisk
PCIe cards
R930 with 8
The chart above shows hows average latency for reads and writes
across the test period was dramatically lower on the SanDisk PCIe
configuration than on the SATA SSD configuration. The SanDisk
configuration took 84 percent less time for reads and 76 percent
less time for writes. This lower latency provides users with quicker
response times and a better experience.
SanDisk Fusion ioMemory application accelerators take your Dell EMC PowerEdge server to the next level
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A window into performance
The Dell Performance Analysis Collection Kit (DPACK) measures key performance attributes and gives datacenter
administrators insight into each layer of the storage subsystem between an application and the physical storage.
This knowledge helps them understand at a granular level why read or write operations may be slow.
We used DPACK during our testing to learn about latency. You can use DPACK to compare your results to those in
this report.
Those who run enterprise datacenters face the perennial challenge of increasing IO so that they can reap the many
benefits of accomplishing greater workloads with fewer servers. As our testing demonstrated, the already strong
performance of a Dell EMC PowerEdge R930 improved dramatically when we replaced eight SATA solid-state drives
with two SanDisk Fusion ioMemory SX350 application accelerators.
The SanDisk configuration delivered 43 percent more OLTP database work, which means that two of these servers
could process almost as many transactions as three SATA SSD-equipped R930 servers could. Not only did the
SanDisk storage allow the server to do more work, it also lowered latency by as much as 84 percent, which can
translate to a smoother and speedier experience for your users.
When you’re investing in powerful enterprise-class servers such as the Dell EMC PowerEdge R930, attack the IO
challenge by choosing SanDisk Fusion ioMemory application accelerators—and do more work more quickly.
SanDisk Fusion ioMemory application accelerators take your Dell EMC PowerEdge server to the next level
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On February 8, 2017, we finalized the hardware and software configurations we tested. Updates for current and
recently released hardware and software appear often, so unavoidably these configurations may not represent
the latest versions available when this report appears. For older systems, we chose configurations representative
of typical purchases of those systems. We concluded hands-on testing on February 16, 2017.
Appendix A – About the hardware and software we tested
About the SanDisk Fusion ioMemory SX350 PCIe application accelerator
SanDisk Fusion ioMemory PCIe application accelerators, with up to 6.4 terabytes of Flash memory per card,
are designed to accelerate the flow of data between servers and other assets. This has the potential to improve
virtualization, databases, business intelligence, and real-time financial data processing, as well as read-intensive
workloads, such as web hosting, data mining, seismic data, content caching, 3D animation, and CAD/CAM.
Learn more at
About the Dell EMC PowerEdge R930
The Dell EMC PowerEdge R930 is a 4U, four-socket server that features the Intel® Xeon® processor E7 series. It is a
versatile system designed to handle demanding workloads such as large-scale virtualization and massive databases—
workloads that are becoming increasingly important for the day-to-day operations of enterprise organizations.
Under the hood, the R930 boasts a bevy of high-class specifications that make it a powerful tool for the modern
datacenter. These specifications include:
• 96 DIMM slots — The ample number of slots help leverage cost with performance and capacity needs.
It accommodates a larger memory footprint which can be configured with smaller-capacity DIMMs for
potential cost-efficiency, or can support up to 6 TB for more memory-intensive use cases.
• 24 drive bays, configurable with a mix of SAS/SATA HDDs and SSDs as well as optional NVMe PCIe® SSDs
for expanded storage capabilities. Two chassis configurations—one with 24 HDD/SSD drive bays, and one
with 16 HDD/SSD drive bays and 8 PCIe SSD drive bays—allow you to configure the PowerEdge R930
however your business needs.
Learn more at
About Microsoft SQL Server 2016
SQL Server 2016 delivers performance and security features built-in for mission-critical transactional systems and
data warehouses, along with an integrated business intelligence and advanced analytics solution for building
data analytics applications. High-performance features are key to ensuring your applications can deliver a
smooth transactional experience and also potentially support demanding real-time operational analytics.
Learn more at
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Appendix B – System configuration information
Server configuration information
Dell EMC PowerEdge R930
BIOS name and version
Dell 2.0.1
Non-default BIOS settings
Intel Turbo Boost enabled, Virtualization enabled
Operating system name and version/build number
Microsoft Windows Server 2016 – 10.10.14393
Date of last OS updates/patches applied
Power management policy
Number of processors
Vendor and model
Intel Xeon E7-8890 v3
Core count (per processor)
Core frequency (GHz)
Memory module(s)
Total memory in system (GB)
Number of memory modules
Vendor and model
Size (GB)
Speed (MHz)
Speed running in the server (MHz)
Storage controller
Vendor and model
Dell PERC H730p
Cache size (GB)
Firmware version
Driver version
Local storage #1
Number of drives
Drive vendor and model
Intel SSDSC2BX80
Drive size (GB)
Drive information (speed, interface, type)
Local storage #2
Number of drives
Drive vendor and model
SanDisk Fusion ioMemory SX350 application accelerator
Drive size (TB)
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Server configuration information
Dell EMC PowerEdge R930
Drive information (speed, interface, type)
Network adapter
Vendor and model
Broadcom® 5720 quad-port 1Gb NDC
Number and type of ports
4 x 1GbE
Driver version
Cooling fans
Number of cooling fans
Power supplies
Number of power supplies
Wattage of each (W)
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Appendix C – How we tested
About our test tool, DVD Store Version 2.1
To create our real-world ecommerce workload, we used the DVD Store Version 2.1 benchmarking tool, or DS2. DS2 models an online DVD
store, where customers log in, search for movies, and make purchases. DS2 reports these actions in orders per minute that the system could
handle, to show what kind of performance you could expect for your customers. The DS2 workload also performs other actions, such as
adding new customers, to exercise the wide range of database functions you would need to run your ecommerce environment.
Learn more at
Configuring the SATA SSDs and SanDisk Fusion ioMemory SX350 cards
Before installing the host operating system, we created a RAID10 virtual disk using the eight SATA SSDs. For the SATA SSD configuration, we
used this virtual disk for all virtual hard drives (VHDs). For the SanDisk configuration, we used Microsoft Storage Spaces to create a software
RAID1 virtual disk using the two SanDisk cards, and used that virtual disk for all VHDs.
Installing Microsoft Windows Server 2016 Datacenter Edition
When prompted to boot from DVD, press any key.
When the installation screen appears, leave language, time/currency format, and input method as default, and click Next.
Click Install now.
When the installation prompts you, enter the product key.
Select Windows Server 2016 Datacenter Edition (Desktop Experience), and click Next.
Check I accept the license terms, and click Next.
Click Custom: Install Windows only (advanced).
Select Drive 0 Unallocated Space, and click Next, at which point Windows begins automatically, and restarts automatically after completing.
When the Settings page appears, complete the Password and Reenter Password fields using the same password.
Log in with the password you set up previously.
Note: After completing the installation, we disabled the firewall, enabled Remote Desktop, ran Windows Updates, and enabled the Hyper-V role.
Configuring Windows Storage Spaces (SanDisk configuration only)
In the Server Manager window, click File and Storage Services in the left pane.
Click Storage Pools.
Right-click the Primordial storage pool, and click New Storage Pool...
On the Before You Begin screen, click Next.
Enter a name for the new Pool, choose the group of disks, and click Next.
Check that all the disks have the correct Media Type (SSD or HDD), choose all the available disks, and click Next.
Review your selections, and click Create.
Using PowerShell, run the following command to create a RAID1 set with no write caching:
New-VirtualDisk -FriendlyName PCIeFlash -ResiliencySettingName “Mirror” -WriteCacheSize 0
9. Open Disk Management and format the drive.
10. Assign a drive letter, and click Next.
11. Set the File system to NTFS, the Allocation unit size to 4096, and name the Volume. Click Next.
12. Review your selections, and click Create.
Creating the workload virtual machines
We created 23 VMs with Windows Server 2016 Datacenter Edition and SQL Server 2016 to run our test workload. We assigned four vCPUs
and 4 GB of RAM to each VM. We created three VHDs for each VM: a 40GB VHD for the operating system, a 60GB VHD for SQL Server data,
and a 30GB VHD for SQL Server logs. After creating the base VM, we installed Windows Server 2016 Datacenter Edition onto the VM using
the steps in the Installing Microsoft Windows Server 2016 Datacenter Edition section above.
Installing Microsoft SQL Server 2016
Attach the installation media ISO for SQL Server 2016 to the VM.
Click Run SETUP.EXE. If Autoplay does not begin the installation, navigate to the SQL Server 2016 DVD, and double-click it.
In the left pane, click Installation.
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Click New SQL Server stand-alone installation or add features to an existing installation.
To accept the license terms, click the checkbox, and click Next.
Click Use Microsoft Update to check for updates, and click Next.
To install the setup support files, click Install.
If no failures are displayed, click Next.
At the Setup Role screen, choose SQL Server Feature Installation, and click Next.
At the Feature Selection screen, select Database Engine Services, Full-Text and Semantic Extractions for Search, Client Tools
Connectivity, and Client Tools Backwards Compatibility.
Click Next.
At the Instance Configuration screen, leave the default selection of default instance, and click Next.
At the Database Engine Configuration screen, select the authentication method you prefer. For our testing purposes, we selected
Mixed Mode.
Enter and confirm a password for the system administrator account.
Click Add Current user. This may take several seconds.
Click Next.
At the Error and usage reporting screen, click Next.
At the Installation Configuration Rules screen, check that there are no failures or relevant warnings, and click Next.
At the Ready to Install screen, click Install.
20. Close the installation window.
Configuring the database workload client
We used a Dell EMC PowerEdge R730 server with Microsoft Windows Server 2016 Datacenter Edition and the Hyper-V role. We created a
virtual client for each SQL Server 2016 virtual machine on the system under test, and assigned two vCPUs and 4 GB of RAM to each virtual
client. We also assigned a static IP address to each virtual client.
Configuring the database
We generated the data using the script included with DVD Store version 2.1 (DS2), providing the parameters for our 40GB database
size and the database platform on which we ran, Microsoft SQL Server 2016. We ran the script on a utility system running Linux®.
The database schema was also generated by the script.
After processing the data generation, we transferred the data files and schema creation files to a Windows-based system running SQL Server
2016. We built the database in SQL Server 2014 and performed a full backup, storing the backup file on the network for all guest VMs to
access. We used that backup file to restore the databases between test runs.
The only modifications we made to the schema creation scripts were in the specified file sizes for our database. We deliberately set the file
sizes higher than necessary to ensure that no file-growth activity would affect the outputs of the test. Other than this file size modification, we
created and loaded the database schema according to the DVD Store documentation. Specifically, we performed the following steps:
Generate the data and create the database and file structure using database creation scripts in the DS2 download. (We made size
modifications specific to our database and the appropriate changes to drive letters.)
Transfer the files from our Linux data generation system to a Windows system running SQL Server.
Create database tables, stored procedures, and objects using the provided DVD Store scripts.
Set the database recovery model to bulk-logged to prevent excess logging.
Load the data you generated into the database. For data loading, use the import wizard in SQL Server Management Studio. Where
necessary, retain options from the original scripts, such as Enable Identity Insert.
Create indices, full-text catalogs, primary keys, and foreign keys using the database-creation scripts.
Update statistics on each table according to database-creation scripts, which sample 18 percent of the table data.
On the SQL Server instance, create a ds2user SQL Server login using the following Transact SQL (TSQL) script:
USE [master]
9. Set the database recovery model back to full.
10. Create the necessary full text index using SQL Server Management Studio.
11. Create a database user and mapped this user to the SQL Server login.
12. Performed a full backup of the database. This backup allows you to restore the databases to a pristine state relatively quickly between tests.
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Running the DVD Store 2.1 test
We ran the workload with one client per target database. The specific testing parameters we used for the benchmark appear below.
We created a series of batch files, SQL scripts, and shell scripts to automate the complete test cycle. DVD Store outputs an orders-per-minute
metric, which is a running average calculated through the test. In this report, we report the aggregate OPM reported by the clients. We ran the
test three times and report results from the median run.
Each complete test cycle consisted of the steps listed below.
Clean up prior outputs from the target system and the client driver system.
Drop the database from the target servers.
Restore the database on the target servers.
Shut down the target.
Reboot the host and client systems.
Wait for a ping response from the server under test (the hypervisor system), the client system, and the target.
Let the test server idle for 10 minutes.
Start the DVD Store driver on each client.
We used the following DVD Store parameters for testing:
--target=<target_IP> --ramp_rate=10 --run_time=90 --n_threads=32 --db_size=40GB
--think_time=0.00 --detailed_view=Y --warmup_time=5 --csv_output=<drive path>
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Appendix D: Test results
We ran the test three times. Below, we report the results from the median run.
R930 with 8 SATA SSDs R930 with 2 SanDisk PCIe cards
VM 1
VM 2
VM 3
VM 4
VM 5
VM 6
VM 7
VM 8
VM 9
VM 10
VM 11
VM 12
VM 13
VM 14
VM 15
VM 16
VM 17
VM 18
VM 19
VM 20
VM 21
VM 22
VM 23
36,913 52,803
Total orders per minute
Average OPM per VM
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This project was commissioned by Dell Technologies.
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