For once, I think Teradata’s annual hardware refresh is pretty interesting, because of the integration of flash storage into its high-end “active enterprise data warehouse” product line. The essence of the announcement is:
- Teradata is rolling out a new appliance,* the 6680, which combines hard-disk and solid-state drives, relying on Teradata Virtual Storage.
- Teradata is also rolling out a hard-disk-based appliance,* the 6650, in a more routine annual refresh.
Teradata graciously permitted me to post a 6650/6680 announcement slide deck. (Contrary to what it says, it’s not actually “NDA Confidential.”)
* Teradata doesn’t use the term “appliance” for its high-end “active EDW” products, but never mind that; to me, they’re appliances.
The Teradata 6680 has a fixed 3:1 ratio of hard-disk and solid-state drives (SSDs). SSDs are always 300 gigabytes; hard drive capacity can be 300, 450, or 600 GB. Thus, the SSD part is somewhere between 1/4 and 1/7 of total data capacity.
The Teradata 6650 will let you include solid-state drives in the mix in a future release, late this year. But for the intervening months, it’s a hard-disk-only product.
Teradata’s adoption of solid-state storage is somewhat different from other vendors’ in at least two ways:
- Teradata’s disk access has always been much more “random” than some newer vendors’. Thus, Teradata potentially can enjoy a much greater speed-up from solid-state storage than they can, as per Slide 17. (However, Teradata doesn’t seem to be claiming that level of speed-up in practice.)
- Teradata doesn’t buy heavily into the idea that solid-state storage is an ideal place to put temp space. In fact, only 20% of Teradata’s SSD capacity is allocated for temp space or write-ahead logs.
Pricing of the new Teradata systems is a bit vague. According to Teradata,
The Teradata Active Enterprise Data Warehouse 6650 is offered at a price reduction from the current Teradata Enterprise Data Warehouse 5650.
But the details are no clearer than:
The Teradata Active Enterprise Data Warehouse (EADW) 6680 starting price per Terabyte of data is basically the same as the Teradata Active Enterprise Data Warehouse 6650 for the same performance level, and it can go up to 4x the performance levels of the 6650. The Teradata AEDW 6680 is designed to be more cost effective for high performance data warehouses. In these scenarios, the price per unit of performance is lower than the Teradata AEDW 6650, and is lower than last year’s Teradata EDW 5650.
Confusion is heightened by Teradata’s balancing-taken-to-an-extreme choice to cripple some of the CPU capacity on 6650s with hard disks, then unlock it if solid-state drives are put in instead.
Naturally, the Teradata 6680 has different ratios among performance, data capacity, price, and operating cost than hard-disk-only alternatives. For example, as per Slide 30, a 6680 implementation can have >2X the performance of the 6650 on the same amount of data, yet enjoy “27% lower data center costs.”
Speaking of data center — i.e. power and floor space — costs, Slide 28 tells us that they’re 20% better with a Teradata 6650 than a 5650. One reason is that Teradata has decided that it really trusts its write-ahead logs, so UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supplies) are no longer needed. Slide 28 also tells us that the 6650 and 5650 are pretty equivalent in performance and data capacity.
Teradata has long made a big deal about its “investment protection,” which ensures that different year’s models of Teradata systems can work together at their respective full performance capacities. However, investment protection has been suspended for Teradata’s products with solid-state drives (the 6680, or the 6650 with the optional SSDs that will eventually become available). Teradata does say that future releases will start having investment protection again, at least back to these new systems.
Relevant background to all this includes:
- Vertica’s take on combining hard and solid-state disks (August, 2010)
- IBM’s take on combining hard-disk and solid-state storage (August, 2010)
- Some storage vendors’ thoughts on the relationship between DBMS and solid-state storage (September, 2008)
- A discussion I had in October, 2009 with Teradata’s Carson Schmidt. (The SSD supplier he was so high on turns out to be Pliant Technology.)