This is very system dependent, but chances are near certain we'll scale past some arbitrary cliff and get into Real Trouble. I'm curious what kind of rules-of-thumb exist for a good RAM to Disk-space ratio. We're planning our next round of systems, and need to make some choices regarding RAM, SSDs, and how much of each the new nodes will get.
But now for some performance details!
During normal workflow of a single project-run, MongoDB is hit with a very high percentage of writes (70-80%). Once the second stage of the processing pipeline hits, it's extremely high read as it needs to deduplicate records identified in the first half of processing. This is the workflow for which "keep your working set in RAM" is made for, and we're designing around that assumption.
The entire dataset is continually hit with random queries from end-user derived sources; though the frequency is irregular, the size is usually pretty small (groups of 10 documents). Since this is user-facing, the replies need to be under the "bored-now" threshold of 3 seconds. This access pattern is much less likely to be in cache, so will be very likely to incur disk hits.
A secondary processing workflow is high read of previous processing runs that may be days, weeks, or even months old, and is run infrequently but still needs to be zippy. Up to 100% of the documents in the previous processing run will be accessed. No amount of cache-warming can help with this, I suspect.
Finished document sizes vary widely, but the median size is about 8K.
The high-read portion of the normal project processing strongly suggests the use of Replicas to help distribute the Read traffic. I have read elsewhere that a 1:10 RAM-GB to HD-GB is a good rule-of-thumb for slow disks, As we are seriously considering using much faster SSDs, I'd like to know if there is a similar rule of thumb for fast disks.
I know we're using Mongo in a way where cache-everything really isn't going to fly, which is why I'm looking at ways to engineer a system that can survive such usage. The entire dataset will likely be most of a TB within half a year and keep growing.