Tag Archives: VMware

Harnessing the Power of VMware vSAN and Intel Gen 4 Xeon Scalable Processors for Optimized AI Workloads

As the workloads of AI systems increase in complexity, more powerful and sophisticated infrastructure is required to support them. Modern applications of artificial intelligence necessitate improved speeds, dependability, scalability, and safety. Therefore, both corporations and academic institutions have made the search for the best platform to execute these demanding tasks a top priority.

Here we have a technological match made in heaven: VMware vSAN and Intel Gen 4 Xeon Scalable processors. This potent union creates a superb environment for processing AI workloads. Each has its own advantages, but when combined they provide a solid foundation for AI. Let’s find out!

Benefits of running AI workloads on VMware vSAN

The scalability and adaptability required by AI workloads are met by vSAN. It reduces overhead by making it easier to provision and manage storage resources. It provides high performance and availability and scales well in both directions. Key advantages include the following:

  1. Simplified Management: vSAN consolidates storage and compute into a single pool that can be administered with standard VMware tools like vSphere Client, vRealize Operations, and PowerCLI.
  2. Lower TCO: vSAN reduces TCO by doing away with the need for costly storage area network (SAN) or network-attached storage (NAS) devices by pooling together in-server, direct-attached storage devices.
  3. Scalability: Since AI workloads tend to grow unexpectedly, it’s important to have a platform that can easily scale to accommodate this growth, and vSAN provides this.
  4. Data Protection and Security: vSAN’s native vSphere integration means it can be used with vSphere Replication and Site Recovery Manager to provide encrypted data at rest and disaster recovery.

Advantages of Intel Gen 4 Xeon Scalable Processors

The new Intel Gen 4 Xeon Scalable processors have powerful artificial intelligence (AI) accelerators (AMX and DSA) built into their architecture.

  1. Advanced Matrix Extensions (AMX): The Xeon Scalable processor has had its capabilities enhanced with new matrix extensions designed specifically for artificial intelligence and high-performance computing. They provide more parallelism and vectorization, which improves the efficiency of deep learning and machine learning programmes.
  2. Data Streaming Accelerator (DSA): This is a hardware accelerator designed to process data quickly and with minimal delay. DSA is essential for processing the large amounts of data inherent in AI workloads due to its ability to improve compression, storage efficiency, and security.

The Perfect Synergy for AI Workloads

Companies can run AI workloads with confidence on a scalable, secure, and robust platform thanks to the combination of vSAN and Intel Gen 4 Xeon Scalable processors.

Businesses can quickly scale to meet the demands of AI applications thanks to the scalability, ease of management, and cost-effectiveness of vSAN and the AI-tailored hardware acceleration of Intel Gen 4 Xeon Scalable processors. In addition to providing an ideal platform for AI, this potent combination simplifies data management, reduces overhead, and boosts performance.

Additionally, sensitive data used in AI workloads is safeguarded with in-built security and encryption features, allowing for both regulatory compliance and peace of mind.

When put together, VMware vSAN and Intel Gen 4 Xeon Scalable processors create a highly reliable, fast, and scalable environment for AI workloads. Organizations can forge ahead with their AI initiatives with the assurance that their infrastructure can handle the rigours of AI by taking advantage of vSAN and the AMX and DSA accelerators on the Intel CPU.

Embracing the Future of Data Management: The Potential Benefits of Application Device Queue in VMware vSAN

Every day, new technological developments improve the speed and adaptability of information storage and processing in today’s modern world. The Application Device Queue (ADQ) is one such breakthrough that has the potential to completely replace older forms of Remote Direct Memory Access (RDMA).

What is Application Device Queue?
Understanding what ADQ is and how it functions is crucial before diving into the benefits. Application Device Queue is a cutting-edge technology that optimises the management of data traffic by creating separate queues for different programmes. ADQ allows for a more efficient distribution of network resources by individually adjusting the amount of traffic bandwidth allotted to each application.

While RDMA has been widely adopted for its ability to facilitate OS-skipping data transfers between RAM and disc, it is not without flaws. Underutilization of network resources is a potential downside of RDMA, especially when less-demanding applications are given the same share of system resources as more demanding ones. This rigidity may cause delays and other performance issues in the system.

In contrast, ADQ offers several significant advantages:

  • Optimized Resource Allocation: With ADQ, applications can use their own separate queues, which keeps them from interfering with one another and makes better use of available resources.
  • Improved Performance: ADQ ensures that applications consistently provide high-quality performance by lowering contention and tail latency.
  • Greater Flexibility and Scalability: With ADQ, you can better manage your network’s resources and adjust your apps to meet their specific needs, making your infrastructure more flexible and scalable.

ADQ and VMware vSAN
ADQ’s advantages could be used to boost VMware vSAN’s efficiency in a major way. VMware’s software-defined storage solution vSAN is highly suitable for adopting ADQ technology due to its centralization and simplification of storage.

Here are ways in which VMware vSAN could benefit from ADQ:

  • Enhanced Performance: ADQ would allow vSAN to better manage network traffic, which in turn would improve application performance and end-user satisfaction.
  • Greater Scalability: Because of ADQ, vSAN can scale without worrying about bottlenecks, making it more flexible in the face of fluctuating business demands.
  • Improved System Reliability: ADQ can greatly improve vSAN system reliability by apportioning resources fairly and preventing applications from interfering with one another.

In conclusion, VMware vSAN could gain a revolutionary method for managing data traffic with the help of Application Device Queue technology, an improvement over RDMA. This not only offers better resource allocation, but also raises the bar for system performance and reliability in today’s rapidly developing technological sphere.

What’s happening with Intel Optane?

I have done a lot of testing on Optane SSDs in the past, but in July of 2022 Intel announced their intention to wind down the Optane business. Since that announcement I have had many questions surrounding Optane and where it leaves customers today.

Well firstly, I am going to address the messaging that was announced back in July, on the Intel earnings call it was announced that Optane had been written off with over half a billion dollars. This led to quite a storm of confusion as I was asked by many “Does this mean I cannot buy Optane any more?”

To the contrary, Optane is still a product and will continue to be a product until at least the end of 2025, and even if you buy it on the last day it is available, you will still get a 5 year warranty.

I have never really spoken about the other side of the Optane house on this blog before, moreso because it wasn’t directly relevant to vSAN. However, there are two sides to Optane, of course as you know the SSD, but there is also the persistent memory side of the Optane Technology.

Optane Persistent Memory (PMEM) is primarily used in VMware as a memory tiering solution. Over the past few years DRAM has become expensive, as well as having the inability to scale. Memory tiering allows customers to overcome both of the challenges on cost as well as large capacity memory modules. PMEM for example is available in 128GB, 256GB and 512GB modules, at a fraction of the cost of the same size modules of DRAM.

Memory tiering is very much like the Original Storage Architecture in vSAN, you have an expensive cache tier, and a less expensive capacity tier. Allowing you to deliver a higher memory capacity with a much improved TCO/ROI. Below are the typical configurations prior to vSphere 7.0U3.

On the horizon we have a new architecture called Compute Express Link (CXL), and CXL 2.0 will deliver a plethora of memory tiering devices. However, CXL 2.0 is a few years away, so the only memory tiering solution out there for the masses is Intel Optane. This is how it looks today and how it may look with CXL 2.0:

I recently presented at the VMUG in Warsaw where I had a slide that states Ford are discontinuing the Fiesta in June 2023, does this mean you do not go and buy one of these cars today? The simple answer is just because it is going away in the future, it still meets the needs of today. It is the same with Optane Technology, arguably it is around for longer than the Ford Fiesta, but it meets the needs to reduce costs today as a bridge to memory tiering architectures of the future with CXL 2.0.

I like to challenge the status quo, so I challenge you to look at your vSphere, vSAN or VCF environments and look at two key metrics. The first one is “Consumed Memory” and the second one is “Active Memory”. If you divide Consumed by Active and the number you get is higher then 4, then memory tiering is a perfect fit for your environment, and not only can you save a lot of your memory cost, but it also allows you to push up your CPU core count because it is a more affordable technology.

Providing your “Active” memory sits within the DRAM Cache, there should be very little to no performance impact, both Intel and VMware have done extensive testing on this.

Proof of Concepts
Nobody likes a PoC, they take up far too much of your valuable time, and time is valuable. I have worked with many customers where they have simply dropped in a memory tiering host into their existing all DRAM based cluster and migrated real workloads to the memory tiered host. This means no synthetic workloads, and the workloads you migrate to evaluate can simply be migrated back.

Optane is around for a few years yet, and even though it is going to go away eventually, the benefits of the technology are here today, in preparation for the architectures of the future based on CXL 2.0. Software designed to work with memory tiering will not change, it is the hardware and electronics that will change, so it protects the investment in software.

Optane technology is available from all the usual vendors, Dell, HPE, Cisco, Lenovo, Fujitsu, Supermicro are just a few, sometimes you may have to ask them for it, but as they say….”If you do not ask, you do not receive”.