Discover best practices for configuring VMware vSphere with Intel® Optane™ persistent memory (PMem) to create a cost-efficient tiered memory system.
Intel Optane PMem is an innovative technology that delivers large-capacity memory at a fraction of the cost of traditional single-tier, DRAM-based deployments. In virtualized environments, Intel Optane PMem in Memory Mode introduces a hardware-based, two-tier memory hierarchy that is transparent to VMs. With no additional configuration, VMs continue to use memory, while the hardware balances the hottest data between the tiers.
Earlier versions of VMware vSphere support Intel Optane PMem 100 series with 2nd Generation Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors. VMware vSphere version 7.0U2 introduces support for Intel Optane PMem 200 series with 3rd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors. Version 7.0U3 introduces VMware vSphere Memory Monitoring and Remediation (vMMR) for tiered memory. This best practices guide provides strategies for assessing existing deployments and deploying Intel Optane PMem in Memory Mode for VMware vSphere.
The caching methods that have existed for decades in storage technologies have now entered the realm of system memory. The advent of 2nd Gen Intel Xeon Scalable processors with Intel Optane PMem 100 series in Memory Mode provided a new ability to tier memory, transforming single-tier memory into a new two-tier hierarchy. DRAM serves as an L4 cache (tier 0) for the very hottest data, while Intel Optane PMem serves as large-capacity main system memory (tier 1).
To help customers maximize the benefits of memory tiering, this document discusses how to:
Use VMware vSphere instrumentation and metrics to identify memory usage patterns.
Determine the optimal Tier 0 size.
Understand deployment options and requirements.
Monitor DRAM and Intel Optane PMem utilization post-deployment.
Before planning new deployments, it is essential to understand the needs of current and future environments. VMware vSphere provides robust monitoring tools for capturing a wide range of metrics and sampling times via the vCenter Server UI as well as PowerCLI. Identifying peaks, valleys, and trends with existing workloads can help determine opportunities for tiered memory, and in some cases, system consolidation. For the best results, capture memory and CPU metrics on the host for a sufficient length of time to represent the workload(s). Capturing data at the highest resolution will produce the most accurate representation of the workload.
Intel Optane PMem in Memory Mode and Intel Xeon Scalable processors redefine the memory hierarchy for VMware vSphere, reducing cost and increasing density. The best-designed tiered memory environments are created by using the best telemetry. Assessing key metrics over time will highlight usage patterns and dimensions that produce an active memory footprint.
Plan adequate capacities of each tier to provide room for the footprint and additional growth. Once deployed, infrastructure can be tuned as necessary with the new memory management tools built into VMware vSphere. Following the best practices outlined in this document will help ensure a highly optimized, scalable, and cost-efficient tiered memory solution.