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Intel Optane + Lab = Awesome

Labs…. Can be fun and can be the biggest cause of pain and frustration. In the last 5 years my lab has been the best tool for my job, It has made me cheered and cry. The Lab started out as a personal lab for self development and crucial in getting my first VCDX, then moved onto a Shared PSO development lab for delivering multi-cloud automation services, then vForum and VMworld live demos and finally to customers. I have at least 5 organizations a week see live demonstrations from the lab.

In this time I have opened the lab up to VMware Sales Teams and PSO consultants to demo, develop and test. While this lab is funded by myself I am happy to share, Who needs slides when you can show it working right.

This post was of the “new” refreshed lab, its not the latest gear but does a good job and stays in my budget 🙂 I have always run vSAN for my main storage and its not running enterprise kit. It was running 250GB Samsung evos consumer SSD’s for the caching tier, and good old spinning rust with 2TB Seagate 7200 drives, giving me 8TB of space.
I then run 8 bay Synology for iSCSI which is for the automated cloud loads to provision too, and the backup of the vSAN core lab machines.

I was recently fortunate enough to get access to some intel 375GB P4800x Optane’s. Originally my PCIe slot was being used in the supermicro’s which is why the U.2 interface was chosen. But was able to free up the PCIe slot and bought some converters, as shown in the below image.

So I went through 1 by 1, and rebuilt the vSAN disk groups with the Optane’s as the caching tier while leaving the 2TB spinning rust maintaining the hybrid configuration (one day ill save enough pennies for all flash).

After I was thinking wonder how my performance has changed, my previous performance was not awesome but again did the job within budget.

Using vROps, I looked at my vRA CafĂ© machine which would be one of the most heavily used VM’s in the environment.



WOW I understand writing being quicker but reading has been vastly improved too. This was awesome and was making a massive improvement to the overall speed of the environment.

Then I looked at the datatore level.


Massive improvements. Having Optane’s as the caching tier has massively increased the performance of the lab. I just took a machine and ran crystal mark just taking the defaults and not messing around fine tuning, and while I don’t have a before and after with this test. The read / write speeds were lucky to break 150MB/s previously, this is a 10x increase. This lab has about 100VM’s running on vSAN across the 4 nodes at any given time so this simple test was not done in isolation and was sharing general workloads.

CrystalDiskMark 6.0.0 x64 (C) 2007-2017 hiyohiyo
                          Crystal Dew World :
* MB/s = 1,000,000 bytes/s [SATA/600 = 600,000,000 bytes/s]
* KB = 1000 bytes, KiB = 1024 bytes

   Sequential Read (Q= 32,T= 1) :  1793.793 MB/s
  Sequential Write (Q= 32,T= 1) :  1179.299 MB/s
  Random Read 4KiB (Q=  8,T= 8) :   195.063 MB/s [  47622.8 IOPS]
 Random Write 4KiB (Q=  8,T= 8) :   101.660 MB/s [  24819.3 IOPS]
  Random Read 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) :   131.049 MB/s [  31994.4 IOPS]
 Random Write 4KiB (Q= 32,T= 1) :    85.802 MB/s [  20947.8 IOPS]
  Random Read 4KiB (Q=  1,T= 1) :    25.407 MB/s [   6202.9 IOPS]
 Random Write 4KiB (Q=  1,T= 1) :     9.664 MB/s [   2359.4 IOPS]

  Test : 2048 MiB [C: 24.1% (14.4/59.5 GiB)] (x5)  [Interval=5 sec]
  Date : 2019/02/10 11:47:06
    OS : Windows Server 2016 Datacenter (Full installation) [10.0 Build 14393] (x64)

This has been a great addition to this Lab, Better for the customers and better for the PSO services to test validate and develop content for the customers.


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