Advantages of Solid-State Drives for Design Computing

October 29th, 2013 |
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IT Best Practices: Silicon chip design engineers at Intel face the challenges of integrating more features into ever-shrinking silicon chips, resulting in more complex designs. The increasing design complexity creates large design workloads that have considerable memory and compute requirements. We typically run the workloads on servers that need to be configured to meet these requirements in the most cost-effective way.

Solid-state drives (SSDs) offer a promising new approach. These storage devices use solid-state memory to store persistent data; they emulate hard disk drives (HDDs) and can replace HDDs in many applications.

To evaluate the potential of SSDs as swap drives in design computing, we conducted tests to compare performance and cost when using each of these server configuration options to support actual Intel silicon design workloads. Our tests included both enterprise and client-class SSDs.

In our tests, servers with SSDs provided a 1.63x performance-normalized cost advantage, delivering up to 88 percent of the performance compared with running workloads entirely in RAM. Using SSDs as swap drives enables us to substitute lower-cost solid-state storage for higher-cost RAM, with only a small performance impact. Therefore, we conclude that servers with SSD swap drives are a cost-effective, high-performance server platform for EDA applications.

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