Drop It In Like It's Hot: An Analysis of Persistent Memory as a Drop-in Replacement for NVMe SSDs


Solid-state drives (SSDs) have improved database system performance significantly due to the higher bandwidth that they provide over traditional hard disk drives. Persistent memory (PMem) is a new storage technology that offers DRAM-like speed at SSD-like capacity. Due to its byte-addressability, research has mainly treated PMem as a replacement of, or an addition to DRAM, e.g., by proposing highly-optimized, DRAM-PMem-hybrid data structures and system designs. However, PMem can also be used via a regular file system interface and standard Linux I/O operations. In this paper, we analyze PMem as a drop-in replacement for Non-Volatile Memory Express (NVMe) SSDs and evaluate possible performance gains while requiring no or only minor changes to existing applications. This drop-in approach speeds-up database systems like Postgres, without requiring any code changes. We systematically evaluate PMem and NVMe SSDs in three database microbenchmarks and the widely used TPC-H benchmark on Postgres. Our experiments show that PMem outperforms a RAID of four NVMe SSDs in read-intensive OLAP workloads by up to 4x without any modifications while achieving similar performance in write-intensive workloads. Finally, we give four practical insights to aid decision-making on when to use PMem as an SSD drop-in replacement and how to optimize for it.

In Proceedings of the International Workshop on Data Management on New Hardware 2021
Lawrence Benson
Lawrence Benson
PhD Student at Data Engineering Systems Group

I’m currently researching Data Management Systems with Persistent Memory and next generation Stream Processing Engines.