Windows 2008 drivers, benchmarking, and loading of the drives/network

Happily, the Intel site has the right drivers for Windows 2008 for the motherboard gigabits. Just ordered some additional quad cards and a better network switch so we can push this harder. With 4 gigabit clients, we are seeing about 3.5x 1 GbE port in bandwidth. Working on it.
Our test is incredibly simple. Set up IIS7 to serve files from a directory. Create 100 files of 100 MB each. System has 4 GB ram (ok more than that, but it is running 32 bit version of windows 2008, so all it sees is 4gb). Every random access of a file is therefore coming from disk. Curiously enough, under “heavy” load, the disk IO is not a significant contributer to completion time. The disk IO simply appears to be too fast for the network. Going to 10 GbE ports, and will test with 12 clients. See how hard we can push it. My impression is that the networking stack is not as fast as the Linux stack. Will need to turn of IPv6, see if this is an issue.

Some oddities … have to pull down a file first before we fire up our test scripts. Don’t know why but it seems to work well.
IOmeter reported something like 920 MB/s writes, though I don’t know how to run IOmeter, so I may have misunderstood it.
Fairly speedy under windows thought.

4 thoughts on “Windows 2008 drivers, benchmarking, and loading of the drives/network”

  1. Even with a 32-bit OS, you can address more than 4GB of physical memory. It can’t all be mapped into kernel space at the same time, but the physical pages will sit on the transition list and be soft-faulted into the cache rather than hitting the disk.
    Are you running Windows 2008 Standard or Enterprise? Because 32-bit Standard is limited to 4GB of physical memory. See this link for all the details:

  2. @John
    I know this. Customer wants the standard edition due to licensing cost issues (may deploy many such units, costs add up fast). So we are trying to benchmark with as close to their kit as possible. One change is going from 2003 to 2008 server. Their app (the servers for Mediaroom and IPTV) seems to be stuck on 32 bit only windows 2003. I think it should run fine on 2008, and as soon as we can get a little more information, I will try to find my local Microsoft person (Tejas I think…) and get correct specs. Really we would like them to get to 64 bit 2008, where we think we will really shine, but for now we have to test on the 32 bit platform first to meet their requirements.
    BTW: if you have any pointers/contacts to the Mediaroom/IPTV folks I can talk to about the requirements and tuning (and benchmarks), please fire me a note offline (joe _at_ scalability _dot_ org , landman _at_ scalableinformatics _dot_ com). The current benchmark we are doing is somewhat hokey, but it might still be something of value to these folks. Conversely, if they have pre-canned tests, we would love to run them.

  3. When you say “going to 10 GbE ports, and will test with 12 clients” I imagine you mean you are going to be using 10 x 1 GbE ports? Have you considered putting a 10GbE adapter in this box and using that to connect it to the switch?

  4. @Nathan
    Yes, of course. We have done this with our other units in the past. Customer use case is many 1GbE ports, so we are working to test their use case. Will likely test with 10GbE and our IB bits soon as well.
    With 10GbE adapters, we have found a number suffer from slow performance on single threads. Provide multiple threads per port, and the performance is pretty good, near wire speed. Might work well for this application. Will test, and report back to customer on it, but we want to cover their specific use case first.

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