Saturday, October 20, 2012

ZFS Home Storage Network at 10GbE

About a year ago I've decided to put all my data on a home built ZFS storage server. The growing amount of devices around my household prompted for an easier and much faster way to share the data. Since then the box was happily serving both CIFS as well as iSCSI over 1GbE network without any issues.

I was keen on upgrading to 10GbE for quite some time as both my server as well as clients could easily saturate 1GbE link when ZFS had all the required data in ARC. 32GB RAM in my storage server usually left me with the ARC of about 20GB which in most cases happened to be enough to cache the entire workset I was working with. Bottom line is the box rarely had to touch the disk and even if it did there was 120GB L2ARC SSD to even the bumps capable of maxing out 1GbE link as well.

It so happened that I managed to get my hands on a pair of 10GBASE-T Emulex OCe11102-NT NICs which I bought at a significant discount. With 10GBASE-T switches still costing upwards of multiple thousand dollars (even when used) I decided to just get a pair of CAT6 crossover cables running from the ZFS storage box to my workstation and do some tests to see what this configuration could be capable of.

Storage Server

My storage server is running Solaris 11 and the storage pool is built using 4x3TB Hitachi 5400RPM drives in RAID10 (ZFS mirror). The box has 32GB RAM and 120GB Vertex 3 MAX IOPS SSD for L2ARC. As mentioned above, the cache subsystem is enough to keep the box from hitting the disks most of the time. All that is driven by Intel Core i7-3770 CPU (Ivy Bridge).

iSCSI network

I've decided to dedicate 10GbE adapters to the iSCSI network I have between the storage box and my workstation. First of all, this is where I need all the speed I can get. Secondly, I can utlilize both ports with iSCSI MPIO thus archiving 20Gb available bandwidth. This is probably a total overkill but since my cards are dual ported I may as well use both ports as all I need is an extra cat6 cable. The network utilizes 9K jumbo frames. ZFS volume is using 4K block size to match NTFS file system cluster size built on top of the iSCSI volume. COMSTAR is used as an iSCSI target server with Microsoft iSCSI Initiator used for the client.

Test Results - IOPS

I'll start with IOPS results with 100% random read access over 20GB of data using Iometer at different block sizes and worker counts. Each worker was set to do 16 outstanding I/Os.

With 4K blocks the system is able to archive quite impressive 226K IOPS! The storage sever CPU is simply running flat out at this point so I'm confident there is more available from the network. At 16K blocks the system is pushing over 1.5GB/s of random IO which is equally impressive and clearly goes beyond what a single 10GbE link is capable of so the second link is certainly being put to a good use.

Test Results - Bandwidth

For bandwidth test I've just set Iometer to do 1MB sequential reads with 16 outstanding IO/s per worker.


Even with a single worker the system can push 2085MB/s across the wire which is getting quite close to the maximum practical speed you can get out of 2x10GbE NICs so I'm quite happy with this result!


I'll be doing more testing in the upcoming days but so far it appears that the upgrade was totally worth it. Having a home system capable of pushing 226K IOPs and 2GB/s bandwidth is an impressive show of how far you can push the system consisting mostly of consumer grade components. Keep in mind that the only way I could get the above numbers is by making sure all the data is available in ZFS ARC which was the initial goal of my setup.