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In-memory vs. Solid State Disks

Oracle Tips by Jamon Bowen, TMS
February 26, 2015

 

In Memory Databases (Times Ten, Oracle Coherence) vs. Solid State Disks

Jamon Bowen - Texas Memory Systems


In memory databases have recently become an intriguing topic for the database industry. With the mainstream availability of 64-bit servers with many gigabytes of memory a completely RAM based database solution is a tempting prospect to a much wider audience. However, for may database users in the Federal, Financial, and Telecommunications fields, Solid State Disks have been providing completely a RAM based database solution for decades. The performance of any memory based database solution eclipses the performance of a disk-based database.

Solid State Disks make the process of implementing a complete memory solution as simple as transferring the database tables from the current storage device to a solid state disk and starting up the database. In addition solid state disks provide a host of features that In-Memory Databases cannot match:
 

Reliability of SSD vs. RAM databases

Solid State disks incorporate enterprise class storage system reliability features, providing advanced memory protections schemes such as ECC and Chipkill (allowing a memory chip to fail lost without data loss). Enterprise class solid state disks incorporate redundant batteries and disks with the intelligence to reliably persist the data to disk. This provides a non-volatile system that server memory cannot match.
 

Availability of SSD vs. RAM databases 

Using solid state disks as part of a high performance database allows the storage and server components of an application to be decoupled from one another. This allows the server component of the application to be protected from server crashes and application bugs by deploying a Real Application Cluster with several nodes without exponentially increasing the memory costs. In extremely high availability system the Solid State Disks can be mirrored to provide an added level of protection.
 

Scalability of SSD vs. RAM databases 

Solid State disk offer a truly scalable approach to high performance databases. Additional storage can be easily added as the system scales, with production systems deployed in the TeraByte range. Additionally, in stark contrast the price of server memory, the price for adding capacity to solid state disks decreases as the total capacity increases.
 


Market Survey of SSD vendors for Oracle:

There are many vendors who offer rack-mount solid-state disk that work with Oracle databases, and the competitive market ensures that product offerings will continuously improve while prices fall.  SearchStorage notes that SSD is will soon replace platter disks and that hundreds of SSD vendors may enter the market:

"The number of vendors in this category could rise to several hundred in the next 3 years as enterprise users become more familiar with the benefits of this type of storage."

As of January 2015, many of the major hardware vendors (including Sun and EMC) are replacing slow disks with RAM-based disks, and Sun announced that all of their large servers will offer SSD.

Here are the major SSD vendors for Oracle databases (vendors are listed alphabetically):

2008 rack mount SSD Performance Statistics

SearchStorage has done a comprehensive survey of rack mount SSD vendors, and lists these SSD rack mount vendors, with this showing the fastest rack-mount SSD devices:

manufacturer model technology interface performance metrics and notes
IBM RamSan-400 RAM SSD

Fibre Channel
InfiniBand

3,000MB/s random sustained external throughput, 400,000 random IOPS
Violin Memory Violin 1010 RAM SSD

PCIe

1,400MB/s read, 1,00MB/s write with ×4 PCIe, 3 microseconds latency
Solid Access Technologies USSD 200FC RAM SSD

Fibre Channel
SAS
SCSI

391MB/s random sustained read or write per port (full duplex is 719MB/s), with 8 x 4Gbps FC ports aggregated throughput is approx 2,000MB/s, 320,000 IOPS
Curtis HyperXCLR R1000 RAM SSD

Fibre Channel

197MB/s sustained R/W transfer rate, 35,000 IOPS

Choosing the right SSD for Oracle

When evaluating SSD for Oracle databases you need to consider performance (throughput and response time), reliability (Mean Time Between failures) and TCO (total cost of ownership).  Most SSD vendors will provide a test RAM disk array for benchmark testing so that you can choose the vendor who offers the best price/performance ratio.

Burleson Consulting does not partner with any SSD vendors and we provide independent advice in this constantly-changing market.  BC was one of the earliest adopters of SSD for Oracle and we have been deploying SSD on Oracle database since 2005 and we have experienced SSD experts to help any Oracle shop evaluate whether SSD is right for your application.  BC experts can also help you choose the SSD that is best for your database.  Just  call 800-766-1884 or e-mail.:  for SSD support details.

DRAM SSD vs. Flash SSD

With all the talk about the Oracle “flash cache”, it is important to note that there are two types of SSD, and only DRAM SSD is suitable for Oracle database storage.  The flash type SSD suffers from serious shortcomings, namely a degradation of access speed over time.  At first, Flash SSD is 5 times faster than a platter disk, but after some usage the average read time becomes far slower than a hard drive.  For Oracle, only rack-mounted DRAM SSD is acceptable for good performance:

Avg. Read speed

Avg. write speed

Platter disk

10.0 ms.

  7.0 ms.

DRAM SSD

 0.4 ms.

  0.4 ms.

Flash SSD    

 1.7 ms.

 94.5 ms.

 

 

If you like Oracle tuning, you might enjoy my book "Oracle Tuning: The Definitive Reference", with 950 pages of tuning tips and scripts. 

You can buy it direct from the publisher for 30%-off and get instant access to the code depot of Oracle tuning scripts.


 

 

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