Monthly Archives: February 2016

Intel Cache Acceleration Software – v3 is out!!

intel-software-updateI got an email today from Intel, letting me know that version 3 of their Cache Acceleration Software is out.

I have been waiting for this, because I had previously read that version 3 would introduce (the dangerous) feature of write-back caching.

Write-back caching is where data is written to the high speed cache device and later written to the slower disk. This can result in massive speed improvements.

It is dangerous because if the server crashes or looses power and the writes in the cache have not been written to the disk you will have inconsistent data…. that’s bad.

So, lets do a few tests.

The Testing Environment

Here is the hardware setup of the server being used for the benchmark tests.

Motherboard: Supermicro
OS: Windows Server 2008 R2
Processor: Dual Intel Xeon L5420 @ 2.50 GHz
System RAM: 32 GB
Storage Controller: Intel ESB2 SATA RAID controller (driver 10.1.5.1001)
Spinning Disks: Seagate Laptop 1tb (ST1000LM014)
Spinning Disk Setup: RAID 10 (4 disks)
Cache Device: Kingston Digital HyperX Predator 240 GB PCIe Gen2 x4 Solid State Drive

FIRST TEST

Restore a 205gb MySQL database, that is a lot of writes to the disk. Lets see if the write cache makes any difference, in theory it should.

#1 – Cache off, source and destination on same disk: 6 hours 22 minutes
#2 – Cache on (write-back enabled), source and destination on same disk: 6 hours 30 minutes
#3 – Cache on (write-back enabled), source SMB network share: 7 hours 7 minutes

The hard drives in RAID 10 can write at less than 200 MB/sec and the cache device can write at more than 650 MB/sec —- yet the performance drops slightly? We should ideally be seeing a massive increase in performance.

How can the results actually be slower when using the cache?

SECOND TEST

Intel provides a tool called Intel IO Assessment Tool, you run it on your system and it will determine if your system can benefit from the cache and what files you should be caching.

The results say I could benefit and the files I should be caching are the MySQL data folder. No surprise since the server is strictly a MySQL server.

IOPS

Lets use Iometer to calculate how many IOPS this hardware setup can produce. The tests are conducted using the OpenPerformanceTest16.icf (16GB) config from http://vmktree.org/iometer/. The specific test used was RealLive-60%Rand-65%Read.

Kingston Digital HyperX Predator (systems cache drive)
I/Os per Second: 8,346
MBs per second: 68.38 MBPS
Average I/O Response Time: 5.25 ms

Seagate Laptop (RAID 10) – Intel CAS enabled: NO
I/Os per Second: 150
MBs per second: 1.23 MBPS
Average I/O Response Time: 350.20 ms

Seagate Laptop (RAID 10) – Intel CAS enabled: YES
I/Os per Second: 1424
MBs per second: 11.67
Average I/O Response Time: 34.22

This test shows that Intel CAS is working, with nearly a 9.5x improvement over going direct to the disk. Yet no measurable improvement in the performance of MySQL?

FINAL RESULTS

The results of all tests I have done with Intel CAS have been disappointing to say the least. The new version 3 has no options to set, so I can’t really be screwing anything up.

I am going to reach out to Intel and see if they can provide any insight as to why I am not seeing any benefit in my real life usage.

Intel ESB2 SATA RAID Controller Drivers

Intel Raid ControllerIt is February 2016. I am trying to find Windows drivers for an ‘antique’ Intel RIAD controller, the ESB2 SATA RAID card.

This card is accessable through the system BIOS and Windows 2012 R2 installs OK, but I can’t see the status of my RAID drives when in Windows. Is my array OK?

I started a search and tried to install drivers from Intel. Their Intel RST page says it has drivers that support Windows 2012 R2 but when trying to install I am told the platform is not supported.

I came to learn the last version of Intel drivers to support the ESB2 SATA RAID card is version 10.1.5.1001.

After doing some Google searching I found an installer for version 10.1.5.1001. Bingo, they install and it works. If you want to grab the Intel drivers yourself, we are keeping a copy here. Intel_Rapid_Storage_10.1.5.1001

Prior to the install the driver the card was using was Intel 8.6.2.1315 with a date of June 8, 2010. Now Windows is reporting version 10.1.5.1001 with a date of February 18, 2011.

Now with the Intel Rapid Storage Technology software available on the OS, I can enable/disable the write-back disk cache on my storage array. Dangerous? Yes. Faster? Yes. Will I do it? Probably.