Part 3 – Which HDD for content applications – Test Configuration
Which enterprise HDD to use with a content server platform
Insight for effective server storage I/O decision making
Server StorageIO Lab Review
This is the third in a multi-part series (read part two here) based on a white paper hands-on lab report I did compliments of Servers Direct and Seagate that you can read in PDF form here. The focus is looking at the Servers Direct (www.serversdirect.com) converged Content Solution platforms with Seagate Enterprise Hard Disk Drive (HDD‘s). In this post the focus expands to hardware and software defining as well as configuring the test environments along with applications workloads.
Defining Hardware Software Environment
Servers Direct content platforms are software defined and hardware defined to your specific solution needs. For my test-drive, I used a pair of 2U Content Solution platforms, one for a client System Test Initiator (STI) (3), the other as server SUT shown in figure-1 (next page). With the STI configured and SUT setup Seagate Enterprise class 2.5” 12Gbps SAS HDD‘s were added to the configuration.
(Note 3) System Test Initiator (STI) was hardware defined with dual Intel Xeon E5-2695 v3 (2.30 GHz) processors, 32GB RAM running Windows Server 2012 R2 with two network connections to the SUT. Network connections from the STI to SUT included an Intel GbE X540-AT2 as well as an Intel XL710 Q2 40 GbE Converged Network Adapter (CNA). In addition to software defining the STI with Windows Server 2012 R2, Dell Benchmark Factory (V7.1 64b bit 496) part of the Database Administrators (DBA) Toad Tools (including free versions) was also used. For those familiar with HammerDB, Sysbench among others, Benchmark Factory is an alternative that supports various workloads and database connections with robust reporting, scripting and automation. Other installed tools included Spotlight on Windows, Iperf 2.0.5 for generating network traffic and reporting results, as well as Vdbench with various scripts.
SUT setup (4) included four Enterprise 10K and two 15K Performance drives with enhanced performance caching feature enabled, along with two Enterprise Capacity 2TB HDD’s, all were attached to an internal 12Gbps SAS RAID controller. With the STI configured and SUT setup Seagate Enterprise class 2.5” 12Gbps SAS HDD’s were added to the configuration.
(Note 4) System Under Test (SUT) dual Intel Xeon E5-2697 v3 (2.60 GHz) providing 54 logical processors, 64GB of RAM (expandable to 768GB with 32GB DIMMs, or 3TB with 128GB DIMMs) and two network connections. Network connections from the STI to SUT consisting of an Intel 1 GbE X540-AT2 as well as an Intel XL710 Q2 40 GbE CNA. The GbE LAN connection was used for management purposes while the 40 GbE was used for data traffic. System disk was a 6Gbs SATA flash SSD. Seagate Enterprise class HDD’s were installed into the 16 available 2.5” small form factor (SFF) drive slots. Eight (left most) drive slots were connected to an Intel RMS3CC080 12 Gbps SAS RAID internal controller. The “Blue” drives in the middle were connected to both an NVMe PCIe card and motherboard 6 Gbps SATA controller using an SFF-8637 connector. The four right most drives were also connected to the motherboard 6 Gbps SATA controller.
Figure-1 STI and SUT hardware as well as software defined test configuration
This included four Enterprise 10K and two 15K Performance drives with enhanced performance caching feature enabled, along with two Enterprise Capacity 2TB HDD’s, all were attached to an internal 12Gbps SAS RAID controller. Five 6 Gbps SATA Enterprise Capacity 2TB HDD’s were setup using Microsoft Windows as a spanned volume. System disk was a 6Gbps flash SSD and an NVMe flash SSD drive was used for database temp space.
What About NVM Flash SSD?
NAND flash and other Non-Volatile Memory (NVM) memory and SSD complement content solution. A little bit of flash SSD in the right place can have a big impact. The focus for theses tests is HDD’s, however some flash SSDs were used as system boot and database temp (e.g. tempdb) space. Refer to StorageIO Lab reviews and visit www.thessdplace.com
Seagate Enterprise HDD’s Used During Testing
Various Seagate Enterprise HDD specifications use in the testing are shown below in table-1.
Servers Direct Price Each
10K with cache
12 Gbps SAS
HW(5) RAID 10 and RAID 1
12 Gbps SAS
HW RAID 1
15K with cache
12 Gbps SAS
HW RAID 1
6 Gbps SATA
SW(6) RAID Span Volume
Table-1 Seagate Enterprise HDD specification and Servers Direct pricing
URLs for additional Servers Direct content platform information:
URLs for additional Seagate Enterprise HDD information:
Seagate Performance Enhanced Cache Feature
The Enterprise 10K and 15K Performance HDD’s tested had the enhanced cache feature enabled. This feature provides a “turbo” boost like acceleration for both reads and write I/O operations. HDD’s with enhanced cache feature leverage the fact that some NVM such as flash in the right place can have a big impact on performance (7).
In addition to their performance benefit, combing a best of or hybrid storage model (combing flash with HDD’s along with software defined cache algorithms), these devices are “plug-and-play”. By being “plug-and-play” no extra special adapters, controllers, device drivers, tiering or cache management software tools are required.
(Note 5) Hardware (HW) RAID using Intel server on-board LSI based 12 Gbps SAS RAID card, RAID 1 with two (2) drives, RAID 10 with four (4) drives. RAID configured in write-through mode with default stripe / chunk size.
(Note 6) Software (SW) RAID using Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 (span). Hardware RAID used write-through cache (e.g. no buffering) with read-ahead enabled and a default 256KB stripe/chunk size.
The Seagate Enterprise Performance 10K and 15K with enhanced cache feature are a good example of how there is more to performance in today’s HDD’s than simply comparing RPM’s, drive form factor or interface.
Where To Learn More
- Part 1 of this series – Trends and Content Applications Servers
- Part 2 of this series – Content applications server decisions and testing plans
- Part 3 of this series – Test hardware and software configuration
- Part 4 of this series – Large file I/O processing
- Part 5 of this series – Small file I/O processing
- Part 6 of this series – General I/O processing
- Part 7 of this series – How HDD continue to evolve over different generations and wrap up
- As the platters spin, HDD’s for cloud, virtual and traditional storage environments
- How many IOPS can a HDD, HHDD or SSD do?
- Hard Disk Drives (HDD) for Virtual Environments
- Server and Storage I/O performance and benchmarking tools
- Additional Server StorageIO White Papers and Lab Reports, Solutions Briefs and Profiles, Tips and Articles
- PDF White Paper version of this post
- www.thenvmeplace.com and www.thessdplace.com
What This All Means
Careful and practical planning are key steps for testing various resources as well as aligning the applicable tools, configuration to meet your needs.
Continue reading part four of this multi-part series here where the focus expands to database application workloads.
Ok, nuff said, for now.
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