Part 3 – Which HDD for content applicaitons – Test Configuration

April 25, 2016 – 2:48 pm
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Part 3 – Which HDD for content applications – Test Configuration

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Which enterprise HDD to use with a content server platform
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Which enterprise HDD to use for content servers

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.

System Test Configuration
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.

 

Qty

 

Seagate HDD’s

 

Capacity

 

RPM

 

Interface

 

Size

 

Model

Servers Direct Price Each

Configuration

4

Enterprise 10K
Performance

1.8TB

10K with cache

12 Gbps SAS

2.5”

ST1800MM0128
with enhanced cache

$875.00 USD

HW(5) RAID 10 and RAID 1

2

Enterprise
Capacity 7.2K

2TB

7.2K

12 Gbps SAS

2.5”

ST2000NX0273

$399.00 USD

HW RAID 1

2

Enterprise 15K
Performance

600GB

15K with cache

12 Gbps SAS

2.5”

ST600MX0082
with enhanced cache

$595.00 USD

HW RAID 1

5

Enterprise
Capacity 7.2K

2TB

7.2K

6 Gbps SATA

2.5”

ST2000NX0273

$399.00 USD

SW(6) RAID Span Volume

Table-1 Seagate Enterprise HDD specification and Servers Direct pricing

URLs for additional Servers Direct content platform information:
http://www.serversdirect.com/solutions/content-solutions
http://www.serversdirect.com/solutions/content-solutions/video-streaming
http://www.serversdirect.com/File%20Library/Data%20Sheets/Intel-SDR-2P16D-001-ds2.pdf

URLs for additional Seagate Enterprise HDD information:
http://www.serversdirect.com/Components/Drives/id-HD1558/Seagate_ST2000NX0273_2TB_Hard_Drive

http://www.serversdirect.com/Components/Drives/id-HD1559/Seagate_ST600MX0082_SSHD

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.

(Note 7) Refer to Enterprise SSHD and Flash SSD Part of an Enterprise Tiered Storage Strategy

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

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.

Cheers
Gs

Greg Schulz – Author Cloud and Virtual Data Storage Networking (CRC Press), The Green and Virtual Data Center (CRC Press) and Resilient Storage Networks (Elsevier)
twitter @storageio

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