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Factors affecting direct attached storage device

performance in the application layer


Technology brief
Introduction ......................................................................................................................................... 2
Characteristics of HP enterprise-class drives ............................................................................................ 2
Small form factor and large form factor drives ..................................................................................... 3
Hard disk drive I/O performance ....................................................................................................... 3
Solid-state I/O performance .............................................................................................................. 4
Wear protection technology .............................................................................................................. 4
Duty cycle and I/O workload ............................................................................................................ 5
Application environment ....................................................................................................................... 5
Choosing an HDD or SSD solution for your application ........................................................................ 6
OLTP............................................................................................................................................... 7
Streaming media services .................................................................................................................. 7
High performance computing ............................................................................................................ 7
Conclusion .......................................................................................................................................... 8
For more information ............................................................................................................................ 8

Introduction
Processor and memory performance has grown in step with Moores Law, getting faster and smaller.
However, storage performance has lagged far behind, creating a significant bottleneck to system
performance. Today more IT dollars are spent on storage-centric applications such as database, data
warehousing, and virtualized workloads than on compute-centric applications.
Choosing the best server storage options for your computing environment requires an understanding of
storage devices and your own storage needs. HP offers enterprise storage options based on two
technologies: hard disk drives (HDDs) or Solid State drives (SSDs). This paper identifies characteristics of
enterprise HDDs and SSDs, including their I/O performance and reliability. It also explains the
environments and applications for which different types of drives are best suited.

Characteristics of HP enterprise-class drives


HP provides server storage solutions using either spinning magnetic media (HDDs) or solid state NAND
based technology (SSDs).
We design HP enterprise HDDs for use in unconstrained (24x7x365 up to 100% write) I/O workloads.
They are for mission-critical applications such as large databases, e-mail servers, and back-office
applications. They provide maximum reliability, highest performance, and error management under the
most demanding conditions.
We also have three enterprise classes of SSD solutions: Value, Mainstream, and Performance. Enterprise
Value SSDs give you relatively large storage capacities at low costs. They are best suited for high read (for
example, boot) environments where the workload is high read/low write. Enterprise Mainstream SSDs are
suited for high I/O applications with a workload balanced between read and write. Enterprise Performance
SSDs have similar capacities to Mainstream SSDs but are suited for mission-critical environments with
workloads high in both read and write applications. Table 1 summarizes characteristics of HP enterpriseclass drives.

Table 1: Characteristics of HP HDDs and SSDs enterprise-class drives


Enterprise Drives
(HDD)

Midline Drives
(HDD)

Enterprise
Value/Boot
(SSD)

Enterprise
Mainstream
(SSD)

Enterprise
Performance
(SSD)

Interface type

SAS

SATA or SAS

SATA

SATA or SAS

SAS

Interconnect
bandwidth

6 Gb/s

3 Gb/s or
6 Gb/s

3 Gb/s

3 Gb/s or
6 Gb/s

6 Gb/s

General
description

SFF and LFF Hot


Plug

SFF and LFF


Hot Plug

SFF and LFF


Hot Plug

SFF and LFF


Hot Plug

SFF Hot Plug

Capacity range
(GB)

300 900

500 3000

60 480

100 800

200 400

Drive Type

10K and 15K


rpm rotating
media

7.2K rpm
rotating media

NAND Flash
MLC

NAND Flash
SLC and MLC

NAND Flash
SLC

Warranty

3 year

1 year

3 year

3 year

3 year

Data retention
without power

Infinite

Infinite

3 months
minimum

< 3 months

< 3 months

Usage
environment

Mission critical 24x7x365 up


to100% write
applications

Non-mission
critical - Low
read/write
applications

Value
Endurance High read/low
write
applications

Mainstream
Endurance Mixed
read/write
applications

High
Endurance Unrestricted
read/write
applications

Small form factor and large form factor drives


New HP SmartDrive hot plug drives are available in SFF (2.5-inch) and LFF (3.5-inch) HDDs and SSDs on
HP ProLiant Gen8 servers. These new SmartDrives provide the following improvements:
Enhanced display
Drive activity spinner
Do Not Remove indicator
Drive status indicator
Smart carrier authentication
Drive error log NVRAM
For example, if someone removes the wrong drive in a RAID array set while the drives are in rebuild mode,
that manual error will cause data loss. As a precaution against such an error, we added the Do Not
Remove LED indicator. It lights up only when the RAID array is no longer providing redundancy.

Hard disk drive I/O performance


Two factors primarily characterize drive performance: sequential data transfer rate of the media and
random I/O operations per second. Sequential data transfer rate is typically specified when reading or
writing relatively large blocks (64 kilobytes) of data to sequential disk sectors on the outer most tracks of
the disk, called the outer diameter (OD). This maximum sequential data rate is valid only for the OD tracks
on the drive. The rate can be 40 to 50 percent lower on the inner diameter (ID) tracks because they have a
smaller diameter with fewer sectors per track. Random I/O operations occur when reading or writing
relatively small blocks (8 kilobytes) of data to sectors that are scattered across the whole capacity of the
disk. The speed of the actuator seeks and the disk rotation speed determine random performance.

The realized performance of a disk drive depends heavily on the nature of the workload. Performance
varies when accessing large blocks of sequential data or small blocks of random data. All rotating media
disk drives have varying levels of I/O request re-ordering, called optimization. This optimization reduces
the combined seek and rotation distance of several outstanding I/O requests that the drive has in its request
queue. The more requests in the drives queue, the better the ability to optimize.
From a system perspective, the seek distance to random data can also be minimized by maintaining
contiguous files on the disk by using appropriate system utilities. Disk file fragmentation can significantly
degrade both random and sequential performance.

Solid-state I/O performance


SSDs and HDDs use SAS or SATA protocols to interface with the host system, but SSDs store and retrieve
data in flash memory arrays rather than on spinning media. SSDs have no seek or rotational latency time.
They address any sector of the NAND flash directly in 0.1millisecond. SSD latency includes the time for
memory access and transfer combined with controller overhead.
SSDs excel at random read operations, where their performance can be more than 100 times better than
that of spinning media drives. SSDs perform random writes at least 25 times faster than a comparable
15K rpm HDD. This means SSDs provide improved application performance.
Table 2 compares how a single HDD and SSD perform as a function of I/O operations per second (IOPS)
as part of internal HP testing.
Table 2: Performance measured in IOPS for typical single HDDs and SSDs
All
numbers
5%

Enterprise Drives
(HDD
15K rpm)

Midline Drives
(HDD
7.2K rpm)

Enterprise SATA
Value/Boot
(SSD)

Enterprise SATA
Mainstream (SSD)

Enterprise SAS
Performance
(SSD)

Capacity

300 900 GB

500 3000 GB

100 GB

400 GB/200 GB

200 GB

IOPS
100%
random
writes
IOPS 100
% random
reads

340

140

7,000

10,000

15,000

380

130

30,000

32,000

43,000

IOPS
random
read/write
(70%/30%)

370

137

17,000

19,000

26,000

Wear protection technology


NAND Flash devices use semiconductor technology that supports a finite number of data writes to the
device, defined as the Maximum Lifetime. Wear-leveling algorithms maximize the endurance or life span of
SSDs. This technology re-maps logical memory blocks receiving frequent writes to different physical pages.
It evenly distributes erasures and rewrites across the storage medium. A pointer array on the SSD controller
contains the logical-to-physical map.
HP ProLiant Gen8 servers come with HP SMARTSSD Wear Gauge to maximize SSD media utilization and
eliminate unplanned downtime. To view the HP SMARTSSD Wear Gauge, run the HP Array Configuration
Utility (ACU).
The HP Wear Gauge utility monitors and reports the percentage of a drives life cycle used and the amount
of life remaining under the workload-to-date. The utility notifies you through OS event logs, SNMP Storage

Agents, and HP System Management Homepage when the SSD has reached its maximum rated usage limit
so that you can replace the SSD before it fails.

Duty cycle and I/O workload


Duty cycle and I/O workload affect drive reliability. This section briefly discusses how to calculate duty
cycle and I/O workload, and the influence they have on drive reliability.
Duty cycle (DC) is the number of hours the storage device is powered-on, divided by the number of total
hours in a calendar year (8760 hours).
For example, HDDs powered-on and spinning for 8,000 hours during a calendar year may see more
failures due to overheating than HDDs powered-on and spinning for 870 hours. The calculated DC for each
operating period is as follows:
DC (8,000): powered-on for 8,000 hours in a calendar year would have a DC of 91% or
8,000 hr/8,760 hr.
DC (870): powered-on for 870 hours in a calendar year would have a DC of 10% or 870 hr/8,760 hr.
I/O workload (WL) is the number of hours the storage device actively reads or writes data, divided by the
number of total hours in a calendar year.
For example, as HDD read/write workload increases from 2,300 hours to 6,000 hours, the stress and
failure of mechanical parts (such as spindle, drive head, or motor) may increase. The calculated WL for
each operating period is as follows:
WL (2,300): active read/write for 2,300 hours in a calendar year would equal a WL of 26% or
2,300 hr/8,760 hr.
WL 6000): active read/write for 6,000 hours in a calendar year would equal a WL of 68% or
6,000 hr/8,760 hr.
Calculating DC and WL for SSDs is the same as for HDDs, but wear-out is a more meaningful metric for
SSDs, as previously described in the Wear protection technology section.

Application environment
Storage needs of applications vary. As indicated in Figure 1, each application has unique requirements for
throughput and I/O workload. Table 3 identifies some types of applications that place heavy demands
upon storage. For example, oil and gas companies rely upon detailed seismic analysis to estimate yield
and income from a future gas field. Web based companies require the ability to quickly track, store, and
mine user behavior for targeted advertising and content. Financial service corporations need to analyze
multiple sources of structured market data combined with unstructured new accounts quickly to price
investments properly in near time or real time. These industries have key challenges in common: balancing
the speed of computation, the speed of storage processing, and the total storage costs that yield profitable
results.

Figure 1: Each type of application has unique needs for throughput and I/O workload.

Table 3: Applications that place heavy demands on storage


Classification

Application Types

Online Transaction Processing (OLTP)

Transaction processing
eCommerce

Business Intelligence

Data warehousing
Online analysis processing (OLAP)

High Performance Computing (HPC)

Analytics
Imaging

Streaming Services (Web 2.0)

Audio
Video on demand

Choosing an HDD or SSD solution for your application


To meet the demands for virtualized and data intensive workloads, we optimized the storage architecture of
ProLiant Gen8 servers for solid-state storage performance, energy efficiency, and high density. The criteria
for choosing SSD solutions are very strict. For example, we look at how well the NAND flash manages bad
blocks of memory, wear leveling, and write amplification. These characteristics greatly affect SSD
endurance.
We optimized ProLiant Gen8 servers to provide 6x the storage performance of previous generations of
ProLiant servers while using 1/6 the number of HDDs. In internal testing, we replaced twenty-five 146 GB
SFF HDDs with four 400 GB SFF SSDs. These four SSDs produced a 6x performance improvement: 16,000
IOPS versus 2,600 IOPS. Pricing actions in 2012 also reduced cost per IOPS making SSDs a likely choice
if cost per IOPS is a priority.

The new HP 3G SATA SSDs powered by Samsung technology are available in capacities of 100 GB,
200 GB, and 400 GB for HP ProLiant Gen8 and G7 servers. HP 100 GB SSD pricing provides a
competitive cost alternative with 146GB 15k HDDs and other lower capacity HDDs that are going end of
life.
Matching storage solutions with application-environment requirements goes beyond looking at
specifications. It requires knowledge of current and future business needs. Table 4 identifies criteria for
choosing server storage options. HP representatives can help you understand which storage options best
meet your needs.
Table 4: Criteria for selecting a storage option
HDD

SSD

Mission critical

Bulk storage

Long-term data retention

$/IOPS

$/throughput

OLTP
Absolute storage capacity versus speed (throughput and IOPS) is a delicate balance in mission-critical
environments. Financial trading requires historical analytics daily. Automated trading adds new dynamics
to the market structure. Many financial institutions are finding that legacy (HDD only) storage solutions
cannot keep pace with escalating demands for real-time access to more information. To remain competitive,
financial institutions must have a mixture of HDD and SSD capacity to support data throughput and
processing requirements.

Streaming media services


Video broadcast and streaming applications place a heavy demand on storage systems. The technology
must provide content to thousands or millions without performance issues that compromise quality. Doing
that requires vast amounts of storage space, fast file request handling, and fast retrieval of content. HDDs
will continue to address capacity demands because of lower cost per gigabyte for long-term storage. SSDs
will begin to handle more concurrent video stream requests because of lower throughput cost for these highbit-rate streams. The combination of HDDs for capacity and SSDs for random read throughput will be the
strategy most providers pursue.

High performance computing


Many enterprise storage managers are starting to use solid-state drive technology in a high performance
tier of storage called "Tier 0." Tier 0 is SSD-based storage that can improve performance beyond what
Tier 1 (production) storage can now offer. Tier 0 includes applications with high write I/O transactions.
Applications in the finance and video editing industries are examples.
Deploying HDD-based storage in some high performance tiers is challenging. This is because cost,
footprint, power requirements, and operational complexity are becoming unsustainable in a wide variety of
situations that demand Tier 0 IOPS.

Conclusion
Advancements in storage technology allow you to choose from a variety of storage solutions, each with
unique capacity, performance, and endurance characteristics. HP has industry-leading storage technologies
to meet all types of storage requirements. We test our storage products rigorously and certify them for their
targeted applications.
When considering which technology to choose for your storage needs, consider all factors that contribute to
the solution.
Drives perform best when matched to the application environment. HDDs can satisfy capacity, performance,
and cost goals. However, for the highest performance and data availability when endurance limits and cost
are justified, SSDs are a better choice.

For more information


Resource description
Serial ATA Technology, technology brief
Serial Attached SCSI storage technology,
technology brief
Solid state storage technology for ProLiant
servers, technology brief
HP ProLiant drives and data storage
HP Solid State Technology website
Performance factors for HP ProLiant Serial
Attached Storage, technology brief
HP Smart Array Controllers and basic RAID
performance factors, technology brief
HP Smart Array Controller technology,
technology brief

Web address
http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bc/docs/support/SupportManu
al/c00301688/c00301688.pdf
http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bc/docs/support/SupportManu
al/c01613420/c01613420.pdf
http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bc/docs/support/SupportManu
al/c01580706/c01580706.pdf
http://h18004.www1.hp.com/products/servers/proliantstorag
e/drives-enclosures/index.html
http://www.hp.com/go/solidstate
http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bc/docs/support/SupportManu
al/c01460725/c01460725.pdf
http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bc/docs/support/SupportManu
al/c02249094/c02249094.pdf
http://h20000.www2.hp.com/bc/docs/support/SupportManu
al/c00687518/c00687518.pdf

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TC0000757, May 2012