Building a Hyperion Home Lab: Choosing Your Storage

Before we get started, here’s the entire series in case you need to look back (or ahead):

It’s finally time for the last piece of our Home Lab before we put it all together.  Where do we store our data?  There are three main areas that come to mind when we start to put together our storage system:  virtual hard drive storage, high performance storage, and backup storage.

First we need a place to store the operating system and installed software for each of our guest virtual machines.  With the prices of SSD’s coming down every day, it’s hard not to go that route for our main storage.  This is, after all, going to make everything run very fast.

Next, we need some high performance storage.  This might still just be SSD storage, or we might want to go with something faster.  Maybe RAID or NVMe (we’ll get to this).  But when we look at certain applications where disk I/O is important (our databases like Essbase and our Repositories), we might want something faster than our standard storage.

Finally, we should back things up.  This is where we will safely leave SSD’s and go straight to old-school magnetic storage.  For each of our budget options, we’ll have a slightly different overall configuration.  Let’s get started.

Desktop High Budget

For our high budget option, we’ll choose a drive for each of the above areas of concern.  We’ll have a large SSD for our virtual machines, and NVMe drive for our high performance area, and a big magnetic drive for our backups.  For our main SSD drive, I prefer the Samsung 850 EVO 1TB drive.  This drive has impressive performance and longevity making use of the latest in flash technology.  With 540 MB/s sequential reads, 520 MB/s sequential writes, 98,000 IOPS for random reads, and 90,000 IOPS for random writes…this drive is pretty great for $329.99.

For our high performance drive, we’ll stick with Samsung, but we’ll upgrade to an NVMe drive.  But wait, what’s an NVMe drive and why do we care?  Our regular SSD drive will connect to a SATA3 port.  SATA3 maxes out at 6 gigabits of bandwidth.  NVMe on the otherhand is designed to run directly on the PCIe bus.  This means that we have four lanes of PCIe 3.0 to work with.  PCIe provides 975 megabytes (not bits) of bandwidth per lane.  That means we have nearly four gigabytes (not bits) or bandwidth to play with for our NVMe device.  The specific NVMe drive I’ve chosen Samsung 950 Pro 256GB drive, priced at $326.25.  If you think the EVO was fast, the 950 Pro sports 2,500 MB/s sequential reads, 1,500 MB/s sequential reads, 300,000 IOPS for random reads, and 110,000 IOPS for random writes.

And now for our nice slow, but plentiful back-up drive.  HGST makes a nice NAS-rated 4 TB drive for $159.99.  It’s a 7200 RPM drive, so it will provide pretty good sequential performance for our back-up needs.

Desktop Medium Budget

For our medium budget option, we’ll stick with an SSD for our main drive, but we’ll go a little cheaper.  The SanDisk Ultra II provides great performance at a much lower price of $249.99 (if you are lucky, you can find them on sale under $200 occasionally).  The performance on this drive is 550 MB/s sequential reads, 500 MB/s sequential writes, 99,000 IOPS for random reads, and 83,000 IOPS for random writes.  I have one of these drives in my new ESXi box and it’s a solid performer.

For our high performance drive, we’ll just stick with the Samsung, but cut the space and cost in half.  At $181.99, the 256 GB version of the 950 Pro sports 2,200 MB/s sequential reads, 900 MB/s sequential reads, 270,000 IOPS for random reads, and 85,000 IOPS for random writes.  Still crazy fast…

And for our back-up drive, we’ll cut the costs a little and go with a smaller version of the same drive that our high budget option uses.  At $124.99, we’ll save a little money and just keep a smaller number of running back-ups.

Desktop Low Budget

For our low budget option, we’ll do things a little different.  As cost is our primary issue here, we’ll stick with a single drive.  We’ll stick with the 3 TB HGST NAS drive at $124.99.  This gives us some flexibility with the number of VM’s we can handle and it will still be plenty fast for our goal of learning new technology.

Server High Budget

For our server choices, things will change…but just a little.  We’ll stick with our Samsung 850 EVO 1 TB drive for our main drive.  The 850 Pro is a good choice, but it’s hard to justify the additional cost, so we’ll stick with the EVO.

For our performance drive, we’ll definitely change things up.  We’ll go with the Intel DC P3600.  This is actually the same drive several models of the Oracle Exalytics systems use and re-brand as a Sun Flash Accelerator.  It’s a straight PCIe card rather than an M.2 SSD since we don’t have that type of slot using in our server options.  The 400 GB drive cost $579.99 and provides 2,100 MB/s sequential reads, 550 MB/s sequential reads, 320,000 IOPS for random reads, and 30,000 IOPS for random writes.

For our back-up drive, we’ll stick with the 4 TB model at $159.99.

Server Medium Budget

In our medium option, we’ll go back to our desktop medium option where we find our SanDisk drive at $249.99.  This is a great option for our lower cost server option.

For our performance drive, we’ll stick with Intel, but we’ll go the Intel 750 drive.  At $329.99, it provides 2,200 MB/s sequential reads, 900 MB/s sequential reads, 430,000 IOPS for random reads, and 230,000 IOPS for random writes.  So it’s cheaper and faster than the P3600.  What gives?  Those are peak numbers…and it’s all about firmware.  In reality, the P3600 can outpace the 750 in real-world server-level duty loads.  The P3600 is also more over-provisioned giving it a longer life.

Like our medium desktop, we’ll stick with the 3 TB HGST drive at $124.99.

Server Low Budget and Tiny Server

For our low budget and our tiny server, we’ll stick with the Ultra II 960 GB drive at $249.99 and our HGST 3 TB back-up drive ast $124.99, but we’ll ditch the performance drive altogether.  We’ll just keep it nice and simple.

And now…some pretty tables:

Base Storage:

Desktop HighSamsung 850 EVO 1 TB$329.99 1,000 540520 98,000 90,000 Link
Desktop MediumSanDisk Ultra II 960 GB$249.99960550500 99,000 83,000 Link
Desktop LowHGST Deskstar NAS 3 TB$124.99 3,000 164154Link
Server HighSamsung 850 EVO 1 TB$329.99 1,000 540520 98,000 90,000 Link
Server MediumSanDisk Ultra II 960 GB$249.99960550500 99,000 83,000 Link
Server LowSanDisk Ultra II 960 GB$249.99960550500 99,000 83,000 Link
Tiny ServerSanDisk Ultra II 960 GB$249.99960550500 99,000 83,000 Link

High Performance Storage:

Desktop HighSamsung 950 Pro 512 GB$326.25512 2,500 1,500 300,000 110,000 Link
Desktop MediumSamsung 950 Pro 256 GB$181.99256 2,200 900 270,000 85,000 Link
Server HighIntel P3600 400 GB$579.99400 2,100 550 320,000 30,000 Link

Back-Up Storage:

Desktop HighHGST Deskstar NAS 4 TB$159.99 4,000 164154Link
Desktop MediumHGST Deskstar NAS 3 TB$124.99 3,000 164154Link
Server HighHGST Deskstar NAS 4 TB$159.99 4,000 164154Link
Server MediumHGST Deskstar NAS 3 TB$124.99 3,000 164154Link
Server LowHGST Deskstar NAS 3 TB$124.99 3,000 164154Link
Tiny ServerHGST Deskstar NAS 3 TB$124.99 3,000 164154Link

Now that we have all of our hardware picked out, we can add up the total costs in our next post and see the total damage.

The EPM Week In Review: Week Ending February 13, 2016
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