Hardware Guide

This guide describes the SQream reference architecture, emphasizing the benefits to the technical audience, and provides guidance for end-users on selecting the right configuration for a SQream installation.

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This page is intended as a “reference” to suggested hardware. However, different workloads require different solution sizes. SQream’s experienced customer support has the experience to advise on these matters to ensure the best experience.

Visit SQream’s support portal for additional support.

A SQream Cluster

SQream recommends rackmount servers by server manufacturers Dell, Lenovo, HP, Cisco, Supermicro, IBM, and others.

A typical SQream cluster includes one or more nodes, consisting of

  • Two-socket enterprise processors, like the Intel® Xeon® Gold processor family or an IBM® POWER9 processors, providing the high performance required for compute-bound database workloads.

  • NVIDIA Tesla GPU accelerators, with up to 5,120 CUDA and Tensor cores, running on PCIe or fast NVLINK busses, delivering high core count, and high-throughput performance on massive datasets

  • High density chassis design, offering between 2 and 4 GPUs in a 1U, 2U, or 3U package, for best-in-class performance per cm2.

Single-Node Cluster Example

A single-node SQream cluster can handle between 1 and 8 concurrent users, with up to 1PB of data storage (when connected via NAS).

An average single-node cluster can be a rackmount server or workstation, containing the following components:




Dell T640, Dell R750, Dell R940xa, HP ProLiant DL380 Gen10 or similar


2x Intel Xeon Gold 6240 (18C/36HT) 2.6GHz


512 GB - 1 TB

Onboard storage

  • 2x 960GB SSD 2.5in Hot-plug for OS, RAID1

  • 14x 3.84TB SSD 2.5in Hot-plug for storage, RAID6

  • 2x 2TB SSD or NVMe, for temporary spooling, RAID1


2x or 4x NVIDIA Tesla T4, V100, or A100


If you are using internal storage, your volumes must be formatted as xfs.

In this system configuration, SQream can store about 200TB of raw data (assuming average compression ratio and ~50TB of usable raw storage).

If a NAS is used, the 14x SSD drives can be omitted, but SQream recommends 2TB of local spool space on SSD or NVMe drives.

Multi-Node Cluster Example

Multi-node clusters can handle any number of concurrent users. A typical SQream cluster relies on several GPU-enabled servers and shared storage connected over a network fabric, such as InfiniBand EDR, 40GbE, or 100GbE.

The following table shows SQream’s recommended hardware specifications:




High-density GPU-capable rackmount server, like Dell C4140, Dell R940xa, Dell R750, Lenovo SR650 or similar.


2x Intel Xeon Gold 6240 (18C/36HT) 2.6GHz or 2x IBM POWER9


1 - 2TB

Onboard storage

  • 2x 960GB SSD 2.5in, for OS, RAID1

  • 2x 2TB SSD or NVMe, for temporary spooling, RAID1


Mellanox Connectx 5 100 Gbps for storage fabric or similar.


4x NVIDIA Tesla V100 32GB or A100


With a NAS connected over GPFS, Lustre, or NFS, each SQream worker can read data at up to 5GB/s.

Cluster Design Considerations

  • In a SQream installation, the storage and compute are logically separated. While they may reside on the same machine in a standalone installation, they may also reside on different hosts, providing additional flexibility and scalability.

  • SQream uses all resources in a machine, including CPU, RAM, and GPU to deliver the best performance. At least 256GB of RAM per physical GPU is recommended.

  • Local disk space is required for good temporary spooling performance, particularly when performing intensive operations exceeding the available RAM, such as sorting. SQream recommends an SSD or NVMe drive in RAID 1 configuration with about twice the RAM size available for temporary storage. This can be shared with the operating system drive if necessary.

  • When using SAN or NAS devices, SQream recommends approximately 5GB/s of burst throughput from storage per GPU.

Balancing Cost and Performance

Prior to designing and deploying a SQream cluster, a number of important factors must be considered.

The Balancing Cost and Performance section provides a breakdown of deployment details to ensure that this installation exceeds or meets the stated requirements. The rationale provided includes the necessary information for modifying configurations to suit the customer use-case scenario, as shown in the following table:



Compute - CPU

Balance price and performance

Compute – GPU

Balance price with performance and concurrency

Memory – GPU RAM

Balance price with concurrency and performance.

Memory - RAM

Balance price and performance

Operating System

Availability, reliability, and familiarity


Balance price with capacity and performance


Balance price and performance

CPU Compute

SQream relies on multi-core Intel Gold Xeon processors or IBM POWER9 processors, and recommends a dual-socket machine populated with CPUs with 18C/36HT or better. While a higher core count may not necessarily affect query performance, more cores will enable higher concurrency and better load performance.

GPU Compute and RAM

The NVIDIA Tesla range of high-throughput GPU accelerators provides the best performance for enterprise environments. Most cards have ECC memory, which is crucial for delivering correct results every time. SQream recommends the NVIDIA Tesla V100 32GB or NVIDIA Tesla A100 40GB GPU for best performance and highest concurrent user support.

GPU RAM, sometimes called GRAM or VRAM, is used for processing queries. It is possible to select GPUs with less RAM, like the NVIDIA Tesla V100 16GB or P100 16GB, or T4 16GB. However, the smaller GPU RAM results in reduced concurrency, as the GPU RAM is used extensively in operations like JOINs, ORDER BY, GROUP BY, and all SQL transforms.


SQream requires using Error-Correcting Code memory (ECC), standard on most enterprise servers. Large amounts of memory are required for improved performance for heavy external operations, such as sorting and joining.

SQream recommends at least 256GB of RAM per GPU on your machine.

Operating System

SQream can run on the following 64-bit Linux operating systems:

  • Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) v7

  • CentOS v7

  • Amazon Linux 2018.03

  • Ubuntu v16.04 LTS, v18.04 LTS

  • Other Linux distributions may be supported via nvidia-docker


For clustered scale-out installations, SQream relies on NAS/SAN storage. For stand-alone installations, SQream relies on redundant disk configurations, such as RAID 5, 6, or 10. These RAID configurations replicate blocks of data between disks to avoid data loss or system unavailability.

SQream recommends using enterprise-grade SAS SSD or NVMe drives. For a 32-user configuration, the number of GPUs should roughly match the number of users. SQream recommends 1 Tesla V100 or A100 GPU per 2 users, for full, uninterrupted dedicated access.

Download the full SQream Reference Architecture document.