I don’t currently have access to the original hardware I used so most of this is off memory and some notes I made.
Also I’ll present the caveat and warning that all these things I tested not with a view to stability for a production environment but this allowed me to get an Idea of what things I could do to eke out more performance.
There were a few of basic designs I tested with. The hardware was a supermicro chassis with E5 series intel cpu’s 2x quad core 64GB ram. The raid card was LSI 9266-8i (capacitor bbu + fastpath and cachecade addons) that connected to a supermicro sas expander backplane. I tested with several different array’s of disks the most interesting were the SSD’s so for this example I was using 10 samsung 840pro 512gb ssd’s in raid 10 plus 2 hotspares. This server setup was designed to serve raw LVM based lun’s to single U nodes via 20gb Infiniband running ISCSI protocol.
Here is a general list of stuff I did to maximize the performance I learned a lot about what things made the most differences. I also worked extensively with the engineers at LSI to optimize things.
Its not stated anywhere in the documentation but faster is not always better. Working directly with the LSI engineers I learned that for the greatest speed and stability you should be using an 8x pci slot for the raid card. Also you want to make sure that your infiniband cards are registering at the right speeds on the PCI bus. You’ll want to use ‘lspci’ with lots of verbosity to verify that the pci cards come up at the right speeds. I had some driver and BIOS issues that caused some infiniband cards to only come up at half speed or 2.5gb/s vs 5.0gb/s
For the head nodes I was using INTEL chassis with Intel chipsets. These were very buggy and needed to be constantly updated as Intel was fixing things in the BIOS which caused great instability. Make sure all the BIOS is latest and greatest. Supermicro’s firmware’s seemed much more stable in comparison.
This is a very interesting topic. In a nutshell this was probably the biggest benefit. Originally I had been using Ethernet over infiniband or IPoIB which gave me very fast speeds compared to 1gb networking but no where near the speeds I would expect to see from a raid10 SSD array via 20gb infiniband. Using IPoIB also bogged down cpu’s so wasn’t ideal in my situation. So the magic really starts when you use iscsi + iser + RDMA.
You still need IP based communication to do the target discovery but once the nodes all know about each other they switch to using RDMA which is way more efficient. This requires using a iscsi target software that supports iser as well as compiling the drivers for your current kernel from the Mellanox or OFED package of your choice.
Primarily I tested centos 6 however I also tested with Ubuntu 12.04. The best performance really depended on the kernel version.
I tested with centos 6 default and Ubuntu’s 12.04 kernels and they both gave mediocre results. I highly recommend the mainline kernel repo the mainline kernel had some significant performance patches/fixes for SSD’s in general.
In Linux there are a few choices here. Originally I had been using ietd but then moved to tgtd because of support for iser RDMA which was a critical performance gain.
Originally I had worked with the OFED drivers but soon realized that my Mellanox branded cards performed better when I used the firmware specifically from Mellanox it was an older revision of OFED but compiled specifically for my cards.
MLNX branded drivers
This was a very helpful guide on the tuning recommendations I followed.
Performance Tuning Guide for Mellanox Network Adapters
The settings in sysctl.conf made significant improvements on performance.
Virtual memory settings
Of the sysctl settings these defintily make a huge difference. Depending on the workloads of the guest machines these settings could be tweaked per your environment. I noticed significant differences in performance based on different types of workloads. YMMV
This was a HUGE item to improve performance. First disable irqbalance and manually pin your cpu/irq affinity.
The Mellanox package comes with a shell script that was helpful in resetting the affinity. I used this same script to help balance between my raid card and Infiniband card. Also since I had dual a dual socket motherboard I thought it best to install the infiniband card on one PCI bus and the raid card on the other bus with the other cpu.
set_irq_affinity_cpulist.sh is the name of the script.
Some additional reading on interuppt spreading.
This file allowed me to enable and disable certain drivers. Specifically I wanted to enable the iser as well as IPoIB
If you update the raid firmware make sure that all the settings are set correctly still.
Also double check to make sure that the drivers are using enough interuppts.
For example the stock megaraid_sas driver was only using 1 interrupt. Installing the latest driver from LSI allowed all 8 to be used.
Before and then after installing the new driver.
Check this link at the bottom it has an attached PDF which is a really good runthrough of all the information you need.
The samsung 840pro’s gave much much worse performance than earlier plextor m5 256gb drives I used in the past. These newer samsung drives are much slower and have a known issue with the caching on disk that conflicts with LSI firmware making them good or desktop machines but not very good in a Raid Array. I highly recommend researching this issue. Some people have worked around this by flashing differently branded firmwares onto the LSI branded cards. I wasn’t brave enough to risk bricking my raid cards so I didn’t try it.
Much performance can be gained as well by adding less safe mount options.
The best performance I saw was when I tested against ext4 with
More to come….