SUMMARY: gigabit performance NFS weirdness

From: Adam and Christine Levin <>
Date: Wed Aug 07 2002 - 15:00:00 EDT
Ok, great huge thanks to the following for their extended email Q&A
Bryan J. Smith <>
"" <>
David Foster <>
Kevin Buterbaugh <>

Many helpful comments ensued.  The problem has *not* been resolved.

Some comments:
1) Even with good data transfer, there could be disk latency issues
getting the data off the Auspex's disks.

I don't see this as the problem, because three files to *one* Sun goes at
20MB/sec, but three files to *three* Suns go at 60MB/sec -- each Sun is
pulling data at 20MB/sec.  If it were disk or file read latency issues,
three files would take about the same amount of time regardless of how
many clients were reading them (with proper nods to read caching, of
course -- we're dealing with *different* files here).

2) An UltraSPARC II just can't push a GigE card very fast -- 8 way V880s
are getting about 40MB/sec (320Mbps).

Well, that may very well be, but the machines are *writing* at 35MB/sec --
so they're able to send data out the GigE card faster than 20MB/sec.  The
900MHz pentium III in the Auspex can push data out at 60MB/sec -- that's
pretty darned good.

3) Jumbo frames!

Ok, according to several white papers I've seen, jumbo frames could be a
solution.  Apparently, using 9k frames instead of 1500 byte frames can
increase throughput by a couple of hundred Mbps, and also jumbo frames
lowers the load on the CPU by at least a third of not close to a half,
which could solve #2 above, if that is indeed a problem.  However, Sun's
Gigabit cards do not support jumbo frames.

Also, I'm being told by Auspex that their tests have concluded that unless
*all* of the equipment in the network chain is from the same manufacturer,
jumbo frames are not reliable (they claim all equipment must be Alteon --
cards and switches -- because that's what's in the Auspex).

We are going to try to get some loaner cards from other manufacturers.
Does anyone know the part number for Alteon's optical fibre Sun compatible
PCI gigabit ethernet card?  Also, does anyone have experience with Antares

By the way, I've got two more Sun machines connected now, both running
Solaris 8.  With five machines pulling data off the Auspex, it tops out at
almost 70MB/sec -- that's 560Mbps, which is about the max for 1500 byte
frames over gig-e, as far as I'm aware.  If I can get better performance
out of the Suns, we'll be trunking the two gig-e interfaces on the Auspex
together, and then we'll be golden.


On Thu, 1 Aug 2002, Adam and Christine Levin wrote:
> So we've got this brandy-nifty-new Auspex network attached monster, and
> we're trying to squeeze performance out of it.
> Clients are three Enterprise E450s, 2GB memory, 4x400MHz CPU, using a Sun
> GigabitEthernet 2.0 adapter.  Latest recommended patch cluster (105181-32)
> and latest patches for the SUNWged drivers.  I've got /dev/udp tweaked via
> ndd (recv/xmit hiwat are 64k).
> The filesystems are mirrored stripes -- no RAID 5.
> So I mount the filesystem read/write and I slam data onto it using
> time dd if=/dev/zero of=foo bs=1024000 count=200
> (Yes, I've tried varying the block size.)
> By default, NFS is TCP, and I get about 30MB/sec write (240Mbps).
> Reading, I get 20MB/sec.  The 20MB/sec is *per Sun machine* -- each Sun is
> reading simultaneously at 20MB/sec, so the Auspex is pumping out 60MB/sec
> (480Mbps).  It almost seems like there's a hard receive limit or something
> going on here.  The read test is:
> time dd if=foo of=/dev/null bs=16384
> I've also tried of=/tmp/foo -- still 20MB/sec.
> When I mount proto=udp, I get a hair faster write times, but about the
> same.  The read, however, is wonky.  Measuring the transfer rate each
> second, I get:
> 58800
> 222306
> 0
> 2299388
> 56349
> 80234
> 600234
> 0
> 500234
> 0
> ...
> There are two Alteon gigabit cards in the Auspex unit on different VLANs.
> The default route on the Auspex is out the 100Mbit card (the gigabit cards
> are on private, non-routable VLANs, the 100Mbit card is the management
> address).  The primary gigabit card on the Auspex is on the same VLAN as
> the gigabit cards on the Sun machines.
> The switch is a Cisco 6500.
> Any thoughts as to:
> 1) Why I can only get 20MB/sec read when writing is faster?
> 2) Why reading off the Auspex via UDP is wonky?
> Thanks much,
> -Adam
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Received on Wed Aug 7 15:03:08 2002

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