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rENIAC Data Engine and Intel® Programmable Acceleration Card boost Cassandra database performance in VMware vSphere virtual environment

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Apache Cassandra – the free and open-source, distributed, wide column store, NoSQL database management system (DBMS) designed to handle large amounts of data across many commodity servers – provides high availability with no single failure point. This DBMS offers robust support for clusters spanning multiple datacenters, with asynchronous master-less replication allowing low-latency operations for all clients. FPGAs, which have been around for more than twenty-five years and have long been used to accelerate I/O-centric applications such as network routers and storage controllers, can also accelerate databases like Cassandra. Mohan Potheri at VMware recently posted a blog titled “Accelerating Virtualized & Distributed Cassandra databases with FPGAs” that discusses this topic.

The VMware blog describes operation of the rENIAC Data Engine (rDE) to accelerate a virtualized, distributed Cassandra database running in a VMware vSphere 7.0 environment. This system delivered significant results when tested with a Cassandra database stress-test tool:

  • Data throughput for the accelerated Cassandra database improved by factors of 3.4X, 7.4X, and 20.2X relative to an unaccelerated system for read/write percentage ratios of 80/20, 90/10, and 100/0.

  • Latency for the accelerated Cassandra database improved by factors of 1.4X, 8.6X, and 36X relative to an unaccelerated system for read/write percentage ratios of 80/20, 90/10, and 100/0.

According to the VMware blog, the rDE was “deployed on a vSphere host with a physical Intel® Programmable Acceleration Card with Intel® Arria® 10 GX FPGA (Intel® PAC with Intel® Arria® 10 GX FPGA) plugged into each server used for these tests. The database and the client virtual machines are deployed as standard virtual machines. The rDE virtual machine is configured with direct passthrough access to the Intel PAC with Intel Arria 10 GX FPGA.

For more detailed technical information, see the VMware blog using the link above.


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Notices & Disclaimers

Performance testing was conducted on a three node Cassandra database cluster, a three node rENIAC Data Engine (rDE) cluster, and two database clients. Three Intel PACs with Intel® Arria® 10 GX FPGA accelerated the rDE and the rDE was deployed as a proxy between the Cassandra databases and its clients. All components were virtualized and all components were connected to a 10 Gbps Ethernet network. See the VMware blog for more technical details about the test system.

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