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HPC botherer DDN breaks file system benchmark record

Runs SPEC SFS 2014 software builds 25% faster than E8 Optane system

Enterprise HPC storage vendor DDN has run the SPEC SFS 2014 benchmark 25 per cent faster than an E8 NVMe storage system using Intel Optane 3D XPoint drives.

NVMe-over-Fabrics fanboy startup E8 had previously smashed the benchmark in January this year.

DDN used its SFA 14KX array, fitted with 72 x MLC (2bits/cell) SSDs, 400GB SS200 SAS drives from Hitachi GST. The software was IBM's Spectrum Scale parallel file system.

The SPEC SFS 2014 benchmark was introduced in January 2015 and tests four aspects of a filer's performance:

  • Number of simultaneous builds that can be done (software builds)
  • Number of video streams that can be captured (VDA)
  • Number of simultaneous databases that can be sustained
  • Number of virtual desktops that can be maintained (VDI)

An Electronic Design Automation (EDA) workload was introduced in December 2017.

So far supplier benchmark results are heavily skewed towards builds (10 results) with six VDA results, and no VDI, database or EDA results. Now DDN has submitted four results, software builds, EDA, VDI and databases:

  • Builds – 1,500 with an Overall Response Time (ORT) of 0.19ms
  • EDA – 800 with 0.29ms ORT
  • VDI – 800 with 2.58ms ORT
  • Databases – 750 with 0.61ms ORT

The benchmark is an end-to-end system rather than a component-level test. This means DDN's results can only be compared to other suppliers on the software build test:


The nearest vendors are E8 with 1200 builds and a slower ORT of 0.57ms, and Weka IO, also scoring 1200 but with an even slower ORT of 1.02ms.

DDN's is the fastest software build result to date.

Using a legacy parallel file system and SAS-interconnect SSDs in a Fibre Channel-connected array, DDN beat both E8, which used fancy Intel Optane drives and the NVMe protocol, and WekaIO with its ground-up redesigned file system.

Let that sink in for a moment: it used a Fibre Channel SAS SSD array to outperform an array full of NVMe-connected Optane SSDs. ®

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