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VirtuCache Host Side Caching versus Storage Controller Cache

Use Case:
Storage Performance



  • Business Intelligence workload was not virtualized due to high storage latencies experienced at peak throughput.
  • CPU and memory on each physical server running BI workload was not fully utilized.


  • Using VirtuCache, Global Foundries was successfully able to migrate their IO intensive BI workload to a VMware environment from non-virtualized Linux servers.
  • The performance in terms of IOPS was 3X of the comparable EMC solution and the cost was 1/8th of the EMC controller based caching solution.

VirtuCache Host Side Caching versus Storage Controller Cache

The Virtunet Difference
  • Leveraging off the shelf Micron SAS SSDs, VirtuCache was able to deliver sustained 300 MBps throughput at $10/MBps. The controller based caching solutions were at least 6X more expensive on a $/per MBps basis.
  • Warranty of 5 years for the combined Virtunet + Micron SSD solution, versus 3 years for the storage controller based SSDs.

Global Foundries is one of the world’s largest semiconductor foundries making chips for AMD, IBM, and Qualcomm.

Global Foundries’ IT had recently moved their Business Intelligence applications from physical servers to VMs. Such a migration had resulted in high storage latencies and lower throughput for this application, which meant that the user queries during the daytime and batch jobs during off-hours were taking a lot longer than when the workload was running on bare metal Centos 6.x servers. At peak throughput of a few hundred MBps, latencies were in hundreds of milliseconds, which in turn caused the application to malfunction.  As a result, they wanted to ensure that VM level latencies at sustained 100MBps throughput was less than 15 ms and, and even at peak throughput of 400MBps, latencies would not exceed 30 ms.

Global Foundries IT Infrastructure

  • Physical Servers – Global Foundries had six HP BL460c G7 blades with 144GB RAM running non-virtualized Centos 6.x that ran their Business Intelligence applications on Oracle 11G.
  • For improved manageability, and specifically to leverage VMware features like DRS, High Availability and Load Balancing, they wanted to deploy this application within VMs in VMware 5.1.
  • Storage – A total of 36 TB of storage on LUNs was provisioned across a 8 gbps Fiber Channel Clariion CX4 appliance and another 10gbps FCoE HP 3PAR 7200 appliance

Workload Characteristics

  • On an average, less than 8 TB of data changed every day. Global Foundries’ home grown application was using Oracle 11G for the underlying database and had 60-40 read-write ratio.
  • At peak throughput of 400 MBps, they wanted latencies under 30 ms, and for sustained 100MBps throughput, they wanted 10-15 ms latencies.

Competing Solutions

In addition to Virtunet Systems, Global Foundries was evaluating storage controller based caching / tiering from their existing storage appliance vendors.

Comparing VirtuCache with EMC Fast Cache and HP 3PAR Tiering

Global Foundries’ selection process involved comparing price per IOPS, price per GB, and latencies for the below three competing approaches :

  1. EMC proposed deploying their FastCache functionality with EMC branded SAS SSDs within the CX4 appliance. 2 TB of Fast Cache SSDs were deployed.
  2. HP proposed deploying SSDs within the StoreServ appliance and tiering data to SSDs from disks. Again 2 TB of SSDs were deployed.
  3. VirtuCache using 400 GB of Micron SAS SSDs in each of the six ESXi blade servers.
EMC FastCache with EMC MLC SAS SSD HP 3PAR Tiering to HP MLC SAS SSD VirtuCache and Micron SAS SSD on each blade
Avg Read MBps 86 102 286
Avg Write MBps 8 9 11
Avg Read Latency ms 18 15 5
Avg Write Latency ms 14 10 6
Cost * $160,000Includes FastCache license $ 40,000Includes data tiering functionality $ 19,000Includes VirtuCache Licensing for 6 hosts

*Cost Calculated Based On Publicly Available Info Listed Below

Price for HP 3PAR SSD = $20/GB

Price for Micron SAS SSD = $4/GB

Price for EMC Fast Cache SSD = $80/GB

Benefit to Global Foundries

By deploying VirtuCache, Global Foundries was assured low latencies even at high throughput. As a result they were able to successfully migrate their database driven Business Intelligence workloads from non-virtualized Centos servers to VMware VMs, and at much lower costs than storage array based caching or tiering solutions from HP or EMC.

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