Throughput Optimized HDD and Cold HDD volumes - Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud
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Throughput Optimized HDD and Cold HDD volumes

The HDD-backed volumes provided by Amazon EBS fall into these categories:

  • Throughput Optimized HDD — A low-cost HDD designed for frequently accessed, throughput-intensive workloads.

  • Cold HDD — The lowest-cost HDD design for less frequently accessed workloads.

Overview of HDD-backed volumes

The following is a summary of the use cases and characteristics of HDD-backed volumes. For information about the maximum IOPS and throughput per instance, see Amazon EBS–optimized instances.

Throughput Optimized HDD Cold HDD
Volume type st1 sc1
Durability 99.8% - 99.9% durability (0.1% - 0.2% annual failure rate) 99.8% - 99.9% durability (0.1% - 0.2% annual failure rate)
Use cases
  • Big data

  • Data warehouses

  • Log processing

  • Throughput-oriented storage for data that is infrequently accessed

  • Scenarios where the lowest storage cost is important

Volume size 125 GiB - 16 TiB 125 GiB - 16 TiB
Max IOPS per volume (1 MiB I/O) 500 250
Max throughput per volume 500 MiB/s 250 MiB/s
Amazon EBS Multi-attach Not supported Not supported
Boot volume Not supported Not supported

Limitations on per-instance throughput

Throughput for st1 and sc1 volumes is always determined by the smaller of the following:

  • Throughput limits of the volume

  • Throughput limits of the instance

As for all Amazon EBS volumes, we recommend that you select an appropriate EBS-optimized EC2 instance to avoid network bottlenecks. For more information, see Amazon EBS–optimized instances.

Throughput Optimized HDD volumes

Throughput Optimized HDD (st1) volumes provide low-cost magnetic storage that defines performance in terms of throughput rather than IOPS. This volume type is a good fit for large, sequential workloads such as Amazon EMR, ETL, data warehouses, and log processing. Bootable st1 volumes are not supported.

Throughput Optimized HDD (st1) volumes, though similar to Cold HDD (sc1) volumes, are designed to support frequently accessed data.

This volume type is optimized for workloads involving large, sequential I/O, and we recommend that customers with workloads performing small, random I/O use gp2. For more information, see Inefficiency of small read/writes on HDD.

Throughput Optimized HDD (st1) volumes attached to EBS-optimized instances are designed to offer consistent performance, delivering at least 90 percent of the expected throughput performance 99 percent of the time in a given year.

Throughput credits and burst performance

Like gp2, st1 uses a burst bucket model for performance. Volume size determines the baseline throughput of your volume, which is the rate at which the volume accumulates throughput credits. Volume size also determines the burst throughput of your volume, which is the rate at which you can spend credits when they are available. Larger volumes have higher baseline and burst throughput. The more credits your volume has, the longer it can drive I/O at the burst level.

The following diagram shows the burst bucket behavior for st1.


            st1 burst bucket

Subject to throughput and throughput-credit caps, the available throughput of an st1 volume is expressed by the following formula:

(Volume size) × (Credit accumulation rate per TiB) = Throughput

For a 1-TiB st1 volume, burst throughput is limited to 250 MiB/s, the bucket fills with credits at 40 MiB/s, and it can hold up to 1 TiB-worth of credits.

Larger volumes scale these limits linearly, with throughput capped at a maximum of 500 MiB/s. After the bucket is depleted, throughput is limited to the baseline rate of 40 MiB/s per TiB.

On volume sizes ranging from 0.125 TiB to 16 TiB, baseline throughput varies from 5 MiB/s to a cap of 500 MiB/s, which is reached at 12.5 TiB as follows:

40 MiB/s 12.5 TiB × ---------- = 500 MiB/s 1 TiB

Burst throughput varies from 31 MiB/s to a cap of 500 MiB/s, which is reached at 2 TiB as follows:

250 MiB/s 2 TiB × ---------- = 500 MiB/s 1 TiB

The following table states the full range of base and burst throughput values for st1.

Volume size (TiB) ST1 base throughput (MiB/s) ST1 burst throughput (MiB/s)
0.125 5 31
0.5 20 125
1 40 250
2 80 500
3 120 500
4 160 500
5 200 500
6 240 500
7 280 500
8 320 500
9 360 500
10 400 500
11 440 500
12 480 500
12.5 500 500
13 500 500
14 500 500
15 500 500
16 500 500

The following diagram plots the table values:


            Comparing st1 base and burst throughput
Note

When you create a snapshot of a Throughput Optimized HDD (st1) volume, performance may drop as far as the volume's baseline value while the snapshot is in progress.

For information about using CloudWatch metrics and alarms to monitor your burst bucket balance, see Monitor the burst bucket balance for volumes.

Cold HDD volumes

Cold HDD (sc1) volumes provide low-cost magnetic storage that defines performance in terms of throughput rather than IOPS. With a lower throughput limit than st1, sc1 is a good fit for large, sequential cold-data workloads. If you require infrequent access to your data and are looking to save costs, sc1 provides inexpensive block storage. Bootable sc1 volumes are not supported.

Cold HDD (sc1) volumes, though similar to Throughput Optimized HDD (st1) volumes, are designed to support infrequently accessed data.

Note

This volume type is optimized for workloads involving large, sequential I/O, and we recommend that customers with workloads performing small, random I/O use gp2. For more information, see Inefficiency of small read/writes on HDD.

Cold HDD (sc1) volumes attached to EBS-optimized instances are designed to offer consistent performance, delivering at least 90 percent of the expected throughput performance 99 percent of the time in a given year.

Throughput credits and burst performance

Like gp2, sc1 uses a burst bucket model for performance. Volume size determines the baseline throughput of your volume, which is the rate at which the volume accumulates throughput credits. Volume size also determines the burst throughput of your volume, which is the rate at which you can spend credits when they are available. Larger volumes have higher baseline and burst throughput. The more credits your volume has, the longer it can drive I/O at the burst level.


            sc1 burst bucket

Subject to throughput and throughput-credit caps, the available throughput of an sc1 volume is expressed by the following formula:

(Volume size) × (Credit accumulation rate per TiB) = Throughput

For a 1-TiB sc1 volume, burst throughput is limited to 80 MiB/s, the bucket fills with credits at 12 MiB/s, and it can hold up to 1 TiB-worth of credits.

Larger volumes scale these limits linearly, with throughput capped at a maximum of 250 MiB/s. After the bucket is depleted, throughput is limited to the baseline rate of 12 MiB/s per TiB.

On volume sizes ranging from 0.125 TiB to 16 TiB, baseline throughput varies from 1.5 MiB/s to a maximum of 192 MiB/s, which is reached at 16 TiB as follows:

12 MiB/s 16 TiB × ---------- = 192 MiB/s 1 TiB

Burst throughput varies from 10 MiB/s to a cap of 250 MiB/s, which is reached at 3.125 TiB as follows:

80 MiB/s 3.125 TiB × ----------- = 250 MiB/s 1 TiB

The following table states the full range of base and burst throughput values for sc1:

Volume Size (TiB) SC1 Base Throughput (MiB/s) SC1 Burst Throughput (MiB/s)
0.125 1.5 10
0.5 6 40
1 12 80
2 24 160
3 36 240
3.125 37.5 250
4 48 250
5 60 250
6 72 250
7 84 250
8 96 250
9 108 250
10 120 250
11 132 250
12 144 250
13 156 250
14 168 250
15 180 250
16 192 250

The following diagram plots the table values:


            Comparing sc1 base and burst throughput
Note

When you create a snapshot of a Cold HDD (sc1) volume, performance may drop as far as the volume's baseline value while the snapshot is in progress.

For information about using CloudWatch metrics and alarms to monitor your burst bucket balance, see Monitor the burst bucket balance for volumes.

Performance considerations when using HDD volumes

For optimal throughput results using HDD volumes, plan your workloads with the following considerations in mind.

Comparing Throughput Optimized HDD and Cold HDD

The st1 and sc1 bucket sizes vary according to volume size, and a full bucket contains enough tokens for a full volume scan. However, larger st1 and sc1 volumes take longer for the volume scan to complete because of per-instance and per-volume throughput limits. Volumes attached to smaller instances are limited to the per-instance throughput rather than the st1 or sc1 throughput limits.

Both st1 and sc1 are designed for performance consistency of 90 percent of burst throughput 99 percent of the time. Non-compliant periods are approximately uniformly distributed, targeting 99 percent of expected total throughput each hour.

In general, scan times are expressed by this formula:

Volume size ------------ = Scan time Throughput

For example, taking the performance consistency guarantees and other optimizations into account, an st1 customer with a 5-TiB volume can expect to complete a full volume scan in 2.91 to 3.27 hours.

  • Optimal scan time

    5 TiB 5 TiB ----------- = ------------------ = 10,486 seconds = 2.91 hours 500 MiB/s 0.00047684 TiB/s
  • Maximum scan time

    2.91 hours -------------- = 3.27 hours (0.90)(0.99) <-- From expected performance of 90% of burst 99% of the time

Similarly, an sc1 customer with a 5-TiB volume can expect to complete a full volume scan in 5.83 to 6.54 hours.

  • Optimal scan time

    5 TiB 5 TiB ----------- = ------------------- = 20972 seconds = 5.83 hours 250 MiB/s 0.000238418 TiB/s
  • Maximum scan time

    5.83 hours -------------- = 6.54 hours (0.90)(0.99)

The following table shows ideal scan times for volumes of various size, assuming full buckets and sufficient instance throughput.

Volume size (TiB) ST1 scan time with burst (hours)* SC1 scan time with burst (hours)*
1 1.17 3.64
2 1.17 3.64
3 1.75 3.64
4 2.33 4.66
5 2.91 5.83
6 3.50 6.99
7 4.08 8.16
8 4.66 9.32
9 5.24 10.49
10 5.83 11.65
11 6.41 12.82
12 6.99 13.98
13 7.57 15.15
14 8.16 16.31
15 8.74 17.48
16 9.32 18.64

* These scan times assume an average queue depth (rounded to the nearest whole number) of four or more when performing 1 MiB of sequential I/O.

Therefore if you have a throughput-oriented workload that needs to complete scans quickly (up to 500 MiB/s), or requires several full volume scans a day, use st1. If you are optimizing for cost, your data is relatively infrequently accessed, and you don’t need more than 250 MiB/s of scanning performance, then use sc1.

Inefficiency of small read/writes on HDD

The performance model for st1 and sc1 volumes is optimized for sequential I/Os, favoring high-throughput workloads, offering acceptable performance on workloads with mixed IOPS and throughput, and discouraging workloads with small, random I/O.

For example, an I/O request of 1 MiB or less counts as a 1 MiB I/O credit. However, if the I/Os are sequential, they are merged into 1 MiB I/O blocks and count only as a 1 MiB I/O credit.

Monitor the burst bucket balance for volumes

You can monitor the burst bucket level for st1 and sc1 volumes using the Amazon EBS BurstBalance metric available in Amazon CloudWatch. This metric shows the throughput credits for st1 and sc1 remaining in the burst bucket. For more information about the BurstBalance metric and other metrics related to I/O, see I/O characteristics and monitoring. CloudWatch also allows you to set an alarm that notifies you when the BurstBalance value falls to a certain level. For more information, see Creating CloudWatch Alarms.