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Creating a NAS with high-performance storage


I am creating a high-speed, low feature NAS device using my company's Solid State Disk. I am getting very, very good performance numbers, but I want better. I recently transitioned from using my on-board Broadcom 5708C 1GB NICs to using a SuperMicro NIC with the Intel 82598EB 10G chipset. I was hoping to see equal-to or better IOPS, and see much better throughput numbers.

The Intel IOPS number are below the Broadcom NIC (80k vs 100k), but I may be able to tweak away the difference. The thoughput numbers, however were surprisingly subpar. I know this sounds impossible (1G having better thoughput than a 10G), but hear me out.

When I have one client using a Broadcom 1G NIC talk to my server using a Broadcom 1G NIC, I get exactly 110MB/sec throughput measured from my Solid State Disk. I look at the network monitor on both my server and my client and I see a consistent 99% network utilization.

When I change my server to using my Intel-based NIC but still using my Broadcom 1G NIC client, I expect to see the exact same behavior. I don't. I experience some kind of periodic performance drop every 20 seconds or so. Please see the attached screenshot for the perfmon network graph I captured using the Intel card.

What is interresting about this, is that I got the exact same performance sawtoothing from the Broadcom NIC when I used their drivers that were complied sometime the middle of last year. I recently upgraded to a new driver set that was compiled earlier this year and the sawtooth problem went away.

I speculate that the performance dips are a software/driver issue. Perhaps, I need a driver that is compiled just for Win2k8 (that's the OS I am using to profile my NAS).

Any help would be appreciated.

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Nasman, Thanks for your question. I discussed this situation with one of Intel's 10G experts and there is not enough information to determine exactly what is going on here. We recommend that you download the latest released drivers from the Intel Support website. Search for the product name and download the latest driver, then test again. Please let us know how that turns out.

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