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Demartek Evaluation - Improving Database Performance with Log Partitions on Microsemi NV1616 NVRAM Drives

June 2016

High-performance enterprise-class storage is an expensive but essential part of a robust database platform. Businesses trying to meet demanding service levels already know that legacy spinning hard disk drives can no longer sustain the bandwidth, response times, and transaction levels needed to support modern application requirements. Businesses are increasingly deploying flash as primary storage. Application performance expectations are adjusting to exploit those improvements. However, SAS and SATA SSDs, and even new NVMe devices, still cannot deliver I/O as quickly as modern processors are able to request it. Critical applications benefit from any boost possible. An ideal solution for maximizing database performance is an in-memory database, but these come with unique challenges, not the least of which are scalability and preserving data integrity in the event of an outage. Microsemi offers another option.

Databases, as well as some filesystems and many applications, perform update request logging before executing changes to data. This is essential for rollback or recovery in the case of disaster. However, logging is only as fast as the speed of the storage media, and it must be done before committing database writes. With DRAM as the fastest memory tier in a server, logging to DRAM would save precious time that can be returned to the storage device, but that is risky. An outage that corrupts the log can leave a database unrecoverable. Microsemi’s Flashtec NV1616 NVRAM Drive delivers DRAM speed, but with data persistence, making it a viable option as a database log device.

Microsemi commissioned Demartek to evaluate the Flashtec NV1616 NVRAM PCIe card as a log device for an Oracle database executing a write-heavy OLTP workload. Demartek deployed Oracle 12c on Oracle Enterprise Linux to support a transactional workload with a relatively high read-to-write ratio. Performance, measured by the average number of database transactions per minute, with redo logs deployed on SATA SSDs was compared with logging to Flashtec NVRAM. A 15% improvement in the number of transactions was recorded by placing logs on just two mirrored Flashtec NV1616 cards.


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