Building A New Storage Test Server

We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat

Not to sound too obvious, I test IO systems. That means from time to time I have to refresh my environment if I want to test current hardware. Like you, I work for a living and can’t afford something like a Dell R910 Heck, I can’t afford to shell out for the stuff that Glenn Berry gets to play with these days. Yes, I work for the mighty Dell. No, they don’t give me loads of free hardware to just play with. That doesn’t mean I, or you, can’t have a solid test system that is expandable and a good platform for testing SQL Server.

The hardware choices, inexpensive More >

Understanding Benchmarks

That Means What? Vizzini: HE DIDN’T FALL? INCONCEIVABLE. Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. - Princess Bride

If you are like me, you are constantly reading up on the latest hardware. Each site has it’s own spin on what makes up its review. All of them use some kind of synthetic benchmarking software. Some don’t rely to heavily on them because they can show the real world performance using playback tools. This method is used heavily on gaming hardware sites like [H]ard|OCP where they decided long ago that using purely synthetic benchmarks More >

Fundamentals of Storage Systems, Understanding Reliability and Performance of Solid State Storage

Solid state storage has come on strong in the last year. With that explosion of new products it can be hard to look at all the vendor information and decide which device is best for you. Between the different manufacturers using different methods to benchmark their products showing two different numbers for reads and writes using different methodologies it can be extremely confusing. If you haven’t read Solid State Storage Basics you may not understand all the terms used in this article.

SLC and MLC Characteristics and Differences

Right now there are two main flavors of NAND Flash that are in More >

At The End of the IO Road With C#? Pave New Road!

Not being one for letting a problem get the best of me, I took another look at the asynchronous overlapped IO problem. If you read my last post on the subject, you know I’ve done a lot of work on this already. None of the things I said last time have changed at all. If you want to do asynchronous and un-buffered IO in C# using the native file stream calls you can’t… So, I rolled my own. The kicker is, I don’t use any unmanaged code to do this. No call to VirtualAlloc() or anything else using DLL imports. Oh, and the speed is spectacular.

The Goal

My ultimate goal was to build a routine that More >

Fusion-IO releases new 2.1 driver and firmware

And it is well worth the upgrade. I recently had the opportunity to interview David Flynn CEO of Fusion-IO and that will be coming up soon. I have been beta testing the 2.0 driver for quite some time and have been very happy with the performance and reduction in required system memory (by half!). The 2.1 driver is the official release of the 2.x series and has some gains even over the 2.0 drive I’ve been testing. I always to a little test run with HD Tach before diving into my other more detailed tools and right off the top the 2.1 driver is faster yet again than the 1.27 and the 2.0 driver. More >

Sometimes, you have to fix it yourself

The Problem

SQL Server is a huge product with lots of moving parts. Bugs happen. Microsoft has a place to voice your issues or problems. They allow you to vote on the issue and then decide when or if it will get fixed. I’ve used Connect when I hit a bug and I have voted on items that were important to me. Recently I hit a bug in sp_createstats. I use this system stored procedure generate statistics in an automated process I’ve got that manages statistics. I added a new vendor database to the system and on the first run hit “Column ‘DAYSOPEN’ in table ‘dbo.TBL_OPPORTUNITY’ cannot be used in an More >

Fundamentals of Storage Systems – Stripe Size, Block Size, and IO Patterns

If you have been following this series we have covered system buses, hard disks, host bus adapters and RAID. Along the way we also covered how to capture your IO patterns and the SQLIO tool. Now we will pull it all together.We move up the stack even further to the actual layout of the RAID stripe and the file system. How the stripe and file system are laid out on your disks has a huge impact on performance. One of the things that has really gotten some traction over the last few years is sector alignment. This one thing, if not done, could cost you 30% to 40% of your IO potential. Jimmy May More >

Fundamentals of Storage Systems – Testing IO Systems

12/03/2009 – UPDATE! There were a couple of bugs in the SQLIOCommandGenerator new SQLIOTools.zip has been updated.

I often tell people one of the greatest things about SQL Server is that anyone can install it. I also tell people what the worst things about SQL Server is that anyone can install it. Microsoft fostered a “black-box” approach to SQL Server in 7.0 and 2000. Thankfully, they are reversing this course. As a follow-on to my last article, capturing I/O patterns, we will take a quick look at building some synthetic tests based on those results. There are several tools on the market More >

OT: Maximizing My Time, Using Technology

Well I’ve taken the plunge. I have finally broken down and decided to dictate blog post, articles, and other documents. Speech recognition has come a long way over the years, and it’s time I make use of it. Does that mean I’m getting typing altogether? Not exactly. One of the biggest problems is learning how to speak in a way that isn’t exactly natural. It also changes the way I write.

One of the things that people who know me know that I am dyslexic. My hand writing is horrible and my spelling is so poor that it is not unusual for the spellchecker in each article I write to completely miss More >

Fundamentals of Storage Systems – Capturing IO Patterns

We often take the advice given to us on forums or in articles at face value. Even though the authors almost always say things like “your mileage may vary” or “may not apply to your situation” people still assume it is the gospel. Sometimes it is lack of experience. Other times it is just lack of knowledge on how to verify these things on your own. In this article I’m going to give you a tool to look at what SQL Server is doing at the disk level and allow you to make better decisions on how to configure your underlying disks.

The Basics

There are several things you need to know about how SQL More >

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