Generational Performance Comparison: Microsoft Azure’s A-Series and D-Series

Table of Contents

  1. Summary
  2. Test Methodology
  3. Why Performance Matters
  4. Performance Findings
  5. Key Takeaways
  6. Appendix
  7. About Cloud Spectator and Anne Liu

1. Summary

In Fall 2014, Microsoft Azure released its D-Series Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), significantly improving performance over the standard A-Series.

Performance and pricing are both key considerations in evaluating public-cloud options. The notorious price wars between some of the largest providers have pressured the industry into cutting margins to stay competitive. Simultaneously, performance is quickly becoming a focus as providers introduce higher-performing offerings, such as Amazon EC2’s C4 Family, Rackspace’s Performance Servers, and Microsoft Azure’s D-Series. This report examines Microsoft Azure’s D-Series, and how it has improved from a performance perspective.

Key findings from this report include:

  • The D-Series virtual machines (VMs) have higher vCPU, memory, and storage performance outputs than the A-Series VMs when examined across different machine sizes.
  • A-Series VMs are priced lower, making them more suitable for applications like small websites and low-transaction databases.
  • Applications that need higher-performance requirements (NoSQL clusters, high-transaction databases) will find a better fit with the D-Series or the more recently released G-Series.

Key Findings of vCPU, Memory, and Storage Performance

Performance Key Findings
vCPU The D-Series’ vCPUs outperformed the A-Series’ vCPUs by 58%. The vCPU performance of the D4 instances showed relatively large variation, primarily due to two abnormally low scores. This could be caused by a possible malfunction on one or more specific physical hosts. The difference in physical hardware had no notable impact on the vCPU performance of the A-Series VMs.
Memory The D-Series VMs displayed, on average, 65% more memory bandwidth than their A-Series counterparts. The maximum memory bandwidth on the D-Series was 58% more than on the A-Series (17.2 GB/s vs. 10.9 GB/s). Significant fluctuations on memory throughput were observed on the A2, A3, D2 and D4 instances. Variability ranged from 20% to 52% of the average across the five-day testing period.
Storage The D-Series had an average of 6.3x more IOPS than the A-Series for local storage. The D-Series write IOPS scaled significantly as the VM sizes became larger. The A-Series showed much more storage performance variability than the D-Series. D-Series performance variability was under 5% for almost all measurements.


Source: Cloud Spectator

Thumbnail image courtesy of D3Damon/iStock.

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