Servers & Systems: The Right Compute

Scale up—and up—with SAP HANA and persistent memory

Brandon Fears - Intel.jpgJeff is proud to co-author this blog with Brandon Fears, Sales Engineer, Intel.


Through joint innovation between HPE and Intel, a new milestone has been achieved for SAP HANA with HPE-Intel-scale up SAP HANA-blog.jpgpersistent memory. Think bigger—but also faster with HPE Superdome Flex and Intel Optane persistent memory technology.

First the milestone. Leveraging the modular, scale-up architecture of the HPE Superdome Flex server, an SAP Business Warehouse (BW) Edition for SAP HANA benchmark and new world record*  was set utilizing a system with 16 Intel® Xeon® Platinum 8280L processors, 12TB of DRAM, and 12TB of HPE Persistent Memory in 128 GB DIMMs featuring Intel® Optane™ persistent memory technology (hereinafter called persistent memory). Here’s a quick benchmark snapshot.HPE and Intel - scale up SAP HANA.png

You can find complete information on the SAP Standard Application Benchmarks website.

At first blush, the benchmark shows you can scale up memory capacity using persistent memory in combination with DRAM for massive SAP HANA environments. Perhaps no surprise given SAP HANA has been optimized for persistent memory. Yet there’s more, as this benchmark also shows very large data warehouses can indeed run faster with more processing power. But wait, isn’t the ability to run larger databases on smaller systems a potential benefit of persistent memory given the larger module capacity vs. DRAM? Yes, as your system size limits allow. But let’s take a look at other considerations between the two.

Using an all-DRAM system delivers the highest performance. DRAM is volatile, however, so if a server needs to be restarted, you must wait for data to load from storage before accessing SAP HANA—which can be over an hour for large databases. Restarts of production systems are uncommon (system upgrade or rare outage) and user disruption can be avoided utilizing a failover high availability (HA) server and SAP HANA replication. For test and development systems, however, restarts are much more common, and the time lost for data to load can take hours. With persistent memory, restart times can shrink to minutes.

Systems utilized for disaster recovery (DR) can also benefit from persistent memory. Since these systems are seldom put into action, enterprises often make use of them by running other non-critical applications. If a disaster strikes, applications are powered down, SAP HANA is started, and data is read from disk. But if the SAP HANA data can be kept in persistent memory, IT can bring DR systems online sooner. And as users will often accept some drop in application speed in a disaster situation, gains from less downtime can outweigh differences in performance when compared to an all-DRAM system.

So yes, the additional capacity of persistent memory allows you to run larger databases on systems with fewer processors. Want to run faster? Scale up your processing power as well. As this benchmark shows, HPE Superdome Flex provides the muscle of persistent memory and brawn of Intel® processors for fast restart of large SAP HANA databases. Plus, with Superdome Flex, you can start small and scale up as your needs increase. You won’t outgrow and face costly system replacement, but without having to overprovision capacity that you don’t need today.

One last thing. As you scan the list of SAP BW edition for SAP HANA benchmarks, notice something else. Whether systems with all DRAM, or with DRAM and persistent memory, Intel-based systems significantly outperform non-Intel-based systems (based on query executions per hour). Just one more reason why over 90% of servers powering SAP HANA leverage Intel Xeon processors(1)

Learn more about HPE Superdome Flex, #1 in scale-up and scale-out capacity for SAP HANA(2).

Learn more about Intel Optane persistent memory technology, a core feature of the HPE solution.

(1) Gartner Research Note - How to Select Your Optimal SAP HANA Systems Vendor

(2) SAP Certified and Supported SAP HANA® Hardware Directory

*Configuration of HPE Superdome Flex at 41.6 billion initial records, Certification # 2020008: Intel® Xeon® Platinum 8280L 2.70 GHz processors: 16 processors / 448 cores / 896 threads, 12 TB memory and 12 TB of HPE Persistent Memory; SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 12, SAP HANA 2.0, SAP NetWeaver® 7.50.  Scores: Data load 31,870 seconds; Query executions per hour 3,412; Runtime of complex query 262 seconds. The as-of date is March 5, 2020. See for further details.

Intel, Intel Optane and Xeon are trademarks of Intel Corporation or its subsidiariesSUSE is a registered trademark of SUSE LLC in the United States and other countries. Linux is the registered trademark of Linus Torvalds in the U.S. and other countries. SAP and SAP HANA are trademarks or registered trademarks of SAP SE (or an SAP affiliate company) in Germany and other countries. See for additional trademark information and notices. All third-party marks are property of their respective owners..

Jeff Kyle
Hewlett Packard Enterprise

Brandon Fears

About the Author


Jeff leads the hardware and software product planning and management teams for HPE Servers focused on delivering the Mission Critical Solutions portfolio.