First Impressions of Performance on Enterprise Flash Drives

After about one week of playing with the lab gear EMC has loaned us to use for the upcoming VMUG, I’m ready to share my first impressions.

First off, let me say that these drives deliver on the promise the SSD drives offer.  They are FAST.

Generally, I’m seeing an XP template deploy in ~2 min (template is a thin-provisioned 10GB hard drive that is ~2GB on disk).  Windows 2003 templates (10GB thin provisioned HDD, ~4GB on disk) are deploying anywhere between 2 and 20 min depending on how many I’m deploying at once.  The average is around 8 min.

Boot times are even more impressive.  Windows 2003 VMs are powering on in 20-50 seconds, while Windows XP VMs are coming up in about 15 seconds (or less).  This is the time between the completion of the vCenter “Power on Virtual Machine” task and the Ctl-Alt-Del prompt.  There have been several times when I don’t even see the BIOS screen or the Loading Windows screen because they boot faster than the VM console can refresh.  This obviously has huge implications for VDI or DR environments that require tens, hundreds or even thousands of machines to power up in a short timeframe.

We’ve done some rough IOMeter testing as well.  I’m not ready to talk specific numbers, but generally we’re seeing almost 4x the IOPS on SSD disks than on 15k disks in the same array.  Latency increases from sub-millisecond times on the EFDs to tens of milliseconds on the 15k drives.

Overall, very impressive. Of course, the EMC engineer that was helping us setup the arrays thought we should’ve seen better results.  I’d say good enough for now.