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NVMe vs SATA - Achieving 1M IOPS
What are the differences when using SATA SSDs compared to NVMe SSDs?

Overview

The demand for performance is continually increasing. Applications such as big data analytics, server virtualisation and high-performance databases require low latency and extreme storage performance to deliver unmatched application results and better ROI at both the server and data centre levels. Large amounts of data must be accessed and processed

rapidly in order to improve the end-user application experience, which is directly impacted by the underlying system-level storage capabilities. Numerous methods are currently being used to achieve high levels of performance in storage applications, but not all methods yield the same results.

Background

Many of today’s data centre architects are forced to use legacy “good enough” technologies in order to deliver the high performance required by new and existing applications, while also attempting to lower overall cost to improve Return on Investment (ROI). This approach often increases complexity without providing the sought-after benefits of improved Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). The industry is beginning to look to newer technologies such as NVMe and PCIe, the next-generation storage protocol and interface, to replace legacy interfaces such as SATA/AHCI. Replacing these technologies will help reduce complexity and cost while increasing performance and lowering latency.

Performance Analysis

The primary goal of this white paper is to study different methods of achieving 1M IOPS and 6GB/s of storage performance with different types of SSDs. Specifically, what are the differences when using SATA SSDs compared to NVMe SSDs? It is important to understand the number of drives required, the requirements for HBAs, the differences in total power consumption and the impact on application latency. It is expected that a single NVMe SSD will be able to replace banks of legacy SATA SSDs deployed behind host bus adapter cards. NVMe SSDs will reduce complexity, lower power consumption, provide increased performance and improve data centre TCO.

Results

Testing provided three important findings: A Kingston DCP1000 Add-In Card enables

1) a better method to deliver 1 million IOPS and 6GB/s transfer speeds
2) 70% lower power compared to 12x SATA SSDs, plus 3x HBAs
3) 65% lower latency compared to the legacy SATA approach
4) significantly lower complexity and improved data centre TCO

Table 1: SATA SSD vs. NVMe SSD requirements for 1M IOPS and 6GB/s
SATA SSDNVMe SSD
No. of SSDs 12 1
No. of HBAs 3 -
IOPS ~850K IOPS ~1.1M IOPS
Seq. Read ~6.7 GB/s ~6.8 GB/s
Latency ~175us ~60us
Total Power ~90W ~27W
Test Setup
DCP1000 NVMe SSD Setup:

*NVMe setup based on direct connect Kingston DCP1000 Gen3x8 PCIe NVMe SSD

NVMe Setup:
  • 1xNVMe SSD

  • PCIe Gen. 3 x8

  • ~1M IOPS

  • ~6 GB/s

  • Direct Connect PCIe

  • Total HW: 1 pcs

Application: IOMeter Rev 1.1.0
Random Access Pattern: 4KB Rnd Rd QD=64
Sequential Access Pattern: 64 KB Rnd Rd QD=8
Latency Measurement: 4K Rnd Rd QD=1

SATA Setup:

*SATA setup based on Kingston SATA SSD and LSI HBA

SATA Setup:
  • 12xSATA SSD

  • SATA 6Gb/sec.

  • ~100K IOPS

  • ~550 MB/s

  • 3x LSI 4-Port HBA

  • Total HW: 30 pcs

Storage Selection

The benefits enabled by DCP1000 NVMe-based AIC are significant. What was previously accomplished by banks of SATA SSDs connected with complex wiring to multiple HBA cards can now be achieved with a single, high-performance DCP1000 PCIe card. This Kingston AIC reduces complexity and lowers cost while improving overall performance; it allows more work to be accomplished with fewer devices inside the server. Fewer devices means fewer components, which in turn reduces the number of points of failure and therefore provides increased reliability. The benefits of using the DCP1000 NVMe drives in servers can dramatically improve data centre TCO by increasing reliability and reducing the total number of systems deployed for the same application workload.

Application Responsiveness

One of the main benefits of using the DCP1000 NVMe AIC is the improvement in application latencies. It delivers up to 65% reduced storage latency when compared to SATA-based devices deployed behind a host bus adapter. The Kingston DCP1000 NVMe card will enable higher levels of efficiency and responsiveness for next-generation data centres.

Summary

Testing revealed a clear advantage of using NVMe-based storage, such as the Kingston DCP1000, compared to the legacy “good enough” approach of SATA-based storage. Compared to using banks of SATA SSDs behind HBAs, direct-connect NVMe SSDs used in the DCP1000 enable higher performance, higher reliability, lower power and improved TCO for data centres that demand high-performance SSD storage. What previously required an entire box of SATA devices now can be achieved with a single DCP1000 card!

As the benefits of using high-performance NVMe SSDs are better understood, there will be a natural migration away from legacy protocols towards PCIe and NVMe-based storage.

For more information or to apply to evaluate a Kingston DCP1000 Add In Card, please contact your Kingston representative or reseller.

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