Converged Infrastructure vs. RISC-Based Server: Database Comparison

Posted by COLLIER IT on Mar 13, 2019 12:41:20 PM
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Collier IT has extensive experience guiding customers through modernization utilizing converged infrastructure solutions. In a number of cases, this process revolves around licensing cost sustainability as well as price/performance of low-end converged infrastructure, virtualized blades, and high-end converged infrastructure. Recently, the release of the new RISC processors has generated interest to see how they might compare in this type of evaluation.

Our clients have asked for modernization and cost control with performance metrics that allow them to maintain or exceed currently defined Service Level agreements (SLAs). Given this interest, Collier IT has run many Proof of Concept comparisons but, in addition, we decided to gather lab-based experience to help determine what gaps a RISC-based-architecture solution would fill.

The first consideration was to ensure that a fair and reproducible test set could
be provided utilizing tools readily available. Then we constructed a value-oriented RISC server test configuration. Given the critical nature of storage as a component of the Database solution we selected a
Violin storage array to pair with a RISC-based server. In our opinion, XVS 8 blue light clear backgroundthe Violin platform represented a compelling price/performance value.


We chose Swingbench2 and SLOB3 (Silly Little Oracle Bench-mark) to make our comparisons. We ran SLOB and Swingbench on a high-end converged infrastructure system, and then reproduced those tests on a RISC-based server with a Violin Storage Platform, as well as low-end converged infrastructure system.

Performance hand-line-graph-increase-squareof the RISC-based server with Violin, from a Transactions/second and Executes (SQL)/second basis, exceeded the high-end converged infrastructure by as much 600%. The large number of CPU threads of the 8-core RISC environment provides a distinct processing advantage. The benefits of a faster processor, a large amount of CPU hardware threads, and faster memory access allow the RISC-based server and Violin solution to outperform the purpose-made appliance.


The SLOB benchmark metrics demonstrate the performance advantage of the RISC-based server with the Violin solution. The processing power of the RISC-based server’s CPUs make it a good fit for environments with write-intensive and high-transaction workloads and is also good for CPU-intensive workloads. Storage is expandable at a lower overall cost than high-end converged infrastructure. With the Violin storage and 8 Gb Fiber Channel switches, write throughput is approximately double that of the high-end converged infrastructure. While not tested in this benchmark, 32Gb Fiber channel is also available. The RISC-based server with the Violin solution allows for smaller initial configurations and can start at 8.8 raw TB of Violin storage. The solution can scale to 128 cores and up to 1.4 raw PB storage

Transactions/second show a 6.3X performance improvement on the RISC-based server, Executes (SQL)/second show a 5.96X improvement, and Logical Reads/sec a 3.78X improvement compared to the high-end converged infrastructure system. The RISC-based server with the Violin solution, with multiple threads per core and CPU core speed advantage, provides a significant performance improvement when compared to the low-end converged infrastructure and the high-end converged infrastructure in this test.

man looking at stats

The RISC-based server’s CPU Average % Idle is significantly higher than the high-end converged infrastructure as well. The RISC-based server with the Violin solution allows for partitioning into multiple environments. The unused idle resource could be used to host one or more instances of in another environment, allowing for one or more additional tiers of the solution stack (app tier, middleware, database) to run within the RISC-based server. Advantages of the reduced datacenter footprint include datacenter floor space reduction, lower hardware and software maintenance costs, and reduced administration effort. From a performance perspective these solution tiers are communicating over the system bus at bus speeds without the need to utilize the external network infrastructure. The high-end converged infrastructure system supports virtualization technologies, and it too can run multiple instances of the guest Operating System. These high-end converged infrastructure virtual machines are primarily configured to run database instances only. Given the technologies available to the high-end converged infrastructure and their associated I/O performance we expected to see the high-end converged infrastructure excel in testing that is 100% read only. However, the Violin storage has a sustained access latency in the microsecond range that accounts for the better performance in this testing environment

The benefits of a faster processor, a large amount of CPU hardware threads, and faster memory access allow the RISC-based server with the Violin solution to outperform the other systems.

Author: Stephen Ricci, Data Scientist, Collier IT