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Where is the bottleneck?

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December 17, 2010 8:19:14 PM

I had an extra mobo and processor just sitting around so I built a file server out of it. Here are the specs:

ASUS Crosshair IV Extreme
AMD Phenom II X6 1090T
Crucial RealSSD C300 64GB SATA 6.0Gb/s (using this for OS)
4x Seagate Barracuda XT 2TB 7,200 RPM SATA 6.0Gb/s (in RAID5 using mobo's onboard RAID)

The problem I'm having is it becomes unresponsive when I try to read/write too much at once.

For example:
Computer 1 is writing some files to the new File Server, say 1GB worth of files
Then Computer 2 starts writing files to it, like 50GB worth of files
After 30 seconds or so, Computer 1 and 2 report the File Server is not available (or unresponsive)

Could this be a problem with my Linksys router?
Is the onboard LAN too slow?
Is the onboard RAID too slow?
Why can't it handle more than 2 computers writing lots of files to it?
How do I debug this issue?
What should I do next?

Thanks.

More about : bottleneck

December 17, 2010 8:32:59 PM

Well, I don't think it would be the hardware. What operating system are you running?
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December 17, 2010 9:07:12 PM

Windows 7 64-bit

You think the router?
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 17, 2010 9:32:26 PM

That will be difficult to solve without some experimentation....

You should be able to rule out a few possible culprits, however.....

YOu can try different router port/cables to the server..

On the server, you can try a diferent NIC, if you have an extra PCI slot....; you can also see if the problem occurs skipping the RAID 5 for experimentation, try sending 2 GB files to the SSD only. (perhaps a mb integrated RAID bug?)

Or perhaps you can borrow a similar router from a friend to rule it out as well...; this should quickly eliminate the router as a potential bug issue....

Rule out potential suspects one by one (can't rule out a simple glitch on install), and the loser/culprit will still remain standing.
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 17, 2010 11:01:05 PM

Mobo RAID-5 is not all that robust. I don't know what your budget is, but two options that come to mind are either buying a RAID card (not cheap), or giving up some capacity by going to a pair of RAID-1 arrays.
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December 17, 2010 11:53:20 PM

Yeah the mobo RAID5 doesn't have good performance. I don't mind the slower performance if it's not causing this issue.

I did test writing to a different hard drive on the file server that's not on RAID5. It did perform a lot better. I was able to write big files to it (writing @ ~100Mb/s). While two computers were writing to it, I took a third computer (a Mac Pro) and tried to copy over some files and that's when it started having some trouble.

Could this be an OS/Windows 7 64-bit issue?

I'd probably be okay spending < $500 on a RAID controller. More than that I'd probably just buy a SAN from Synology. Do you recommend a particular brand and/or model for my mobo and OS?

Also, if I buy two PCI-e LAN cards, do you think that would help? 1 of the LAN cards would be dedicated to a computer connected to a security camera system. And the other would be for all other network traffic, like iTunes, backups, and etcetera.

Thanks for your help.
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 18, 2010 12:43:51 AM

Certainly another LAN card would help rule out on onboard LAN driver/OS interaction issues....potentially your onboard LAN might have minor driver issues in 64 bit that 99% of most users may never see....

SInce it duplicated without using RAID 5 or even the onboard RAID controller, we can likely rule that out of being a concern.

If you have the time, repeat the experiment under 32 bit XP or Vista....if it works fine, might be a NIC driver/OS errata you've discovered....
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 18, 2010 2:22:53 AM

I wish I had a PII x6 and a Crosshair "lying around" :) 

I'd follow mdd's advice and try a different OS just for hoots.
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December 18, 2010 2:56:01 AM

Well, it was extra because I upgraded my main computer with the Intel i7-980X. That processor is 2x faster than AMD's 6c processor. It cut my render times in half. Since I upgraded the processor, I had to upgrade the mobo, hence the extra processor and mobo. And then the long story short, I thought the single Intel 6c processor was not "enough" so I purchased a Mac Pro with 2x 6c Xeon processors. Unfortunately, that did not run as fast as I thought. Those 2 Xeon processors run at roughly 25% when rendering, so my render time was cut down by only a little. Also virtual machines running on VMware Fusion don't seem as fast as VMware Workstation, but the issue could actually be a processor speed issue. Those Xeons run at 2.93GHz and the i7 @ 3.33GHz stock.

I don't have the time to test different OS's. But I'll go purchase 2 LAN cards and change the RAID5 to RAID1. I'd buy a RAID controller but I don't think the local Microcenter has any good ones and I don't feel like waiting for newegg.

The test where I was writing to a single hard drive (not on RAID) did give me better results. I was able to write much more than before. But still, after too much traffic, the file server became unreachable. So I kind of think the issue is with the mobo and processor. I'm almost thinking to get rid of both (processor and mobo) again and do an Intel build.

Maybe I should put this same test on my i7 machine and see what happens? I bet it could handle it.
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 18, 2010 5:05:52 AM

Now you've done it, start a brand war :) 

I'm not sure if I'd go so far as to replace CPU and board, I think you're on to something with a network adapter crapping out.
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December 18, 2010 9:38:30 PM

Found my problem and got the solution.

Bought a RAID Controller and 2 LAN Cards.

Successfully installed the new RAID Controller and only 1 of the LAN Cards. The second one had some issue I didn't feel like dealing with at the moment.

It turns out, the onboard RAID controller, although slow, wasn't the issue. The onboard Ethernet port isn't the issue either and it's actually faster than the newly installed Gigabit Ethernet PCI Adapter.

The issue was actually a Windows 7 issue.

--------------------------------

Apparently you need to tell Windows that you want to use the machine as a file server and that it should allocate resources accordingly. Set the following registry key to ’1′:

HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager\Memory Management\LargeSystemCache

and set the following registry key to ’3′:

HKLM\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\LanmanServer\Parameters\Size

After making these changes and restarting, I haven’t seen this issue arise again. Fixed!

--------------------------------

Here's a link to the post and thank you Alan!

http://alan.lamielle.net/2009/09/03/windows-7-nonpaged-...



I hope this helps someone.
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December 18, 2010 9:39:01 PM

Best answer selected by general r2.
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a b B Homebuilt system
December 18, 2010 10:02:15 PM

Good work!
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!