The objective of this paper is to present the performance gains that can be achieved on “bare metal” and virtualized computing environments through the use of a host-based solid-state storage cache enabled by the FlashSoft® software from SanDisk. Microsoft SQL Server 2014 was installed on a server running Microsoft Windows Server 2012 R2 and performance was measured from a client computer using HammerDB. The database for the test was contained on a storage array comprising SAS-attached hard disk drives (HDDs), which was attached directly to the host server.
The computers used for this test were configured as follows:
Figure 1: Diagram of hardware configuration for tests
The benchmark test was conducted multiple times to measure and compare performance of the non- accelerated HDD storage backend and the same HDD backend accelerated using a FlashSoft software write back cache. Two sets of tests were performed:
General Setup (for all tests)
Bare Metal Workload Acceleration Test Setup
1) On the host server map to the MD storage array and create addressable storage volumes for the benchmark test:
Figure 2: Storage volume mappings on the host server
2) Configure HammerDB on the client computer using the following settings:
Figure 3: HammerDB client settings
File Exclusion Test Setup
Starting with the Workload Acceleration Test configuration described above:
1) Reconfigure storage volumes of the MD storage array as follows:
Figure 4: Storage volume mappings on the host server
2) Enable Hyper-V on the host server and create one virtual machine.
Figure 5: Storage volumes of the virtual machine
Figure 6: Disk image files on the host server
3) Enable FlashSoft on the host server to accelerate the disk image files located on volume F: which in turn will accelerate performance of the Data, Log and OS VHXD volumes of the virtual machine.
4) Run HammerDB on the client computer to measure SQL performance of the accelerated virtual machine.
5) On the host server disable FlashSoft acceleration of the disk image files for Log and OS.
6) Run HammerDB on the client computer to measure SQL performance of the virtual machine with only the Data volume accelerated.
7) Compare results.
|Workload Acceleration Test (Bare Metal)|
(Transactions Per Minute)
Storage backend not accelerated.
Data files accelerated with FlashSoft write-back cache.
|x4.38 Improvement over Baseline|
Table 1: Workload acceleration test
Figure 7: Increased TPM performance with FlashSoft write-‐back caching
Figure 8: Baseline SQL Transactions
Figure 9: Accelerated SQL Transactions
Figure 10: Baseline disk activity
Figure 11: Accelerated disk activity
|File Exclusion Test Benchmark (Hyper-V)|
(Transactions Per Minute)
Storage backend not accelerated.
|Accelerated w/o File Exclusion
All files accelerated with FlashSoft write-back cache.
|x2.88 Improvement over Baseline|
|Accelerated w/ File Exclusion
Only database files accelerated with FlashSoft write-back cache. OS and log VHDx files excluded from acceleration.
|x5.93 Improvement over Baseline|
Table 2: File exclusion test
Figure 12: Enhanced caching performance utilizing file-‐exclusion feature
Data measured in the tests illustrate how FlashSoft software can significantly improve performance of Microsoft SQL Server workloads on both bare metal servers and Hyper-V virtual machines compared to traditional all-HDD backend storage.
The tests were conducted directly on the bare metal server and virtualized with Hyper-V using a Microsoft SQL Server workload measured by the HammerDB benchmark tool. Although the tests were constructed to be comparable to the conditions typically encountered in real-world computing and to generate data that reveal representative application performance, the tests can only be considered a demonstration of the capability of FlashSoft software – the data should not be interpreted as the performance impact of FlashSoft software for all workload types and storage environments. The actual performance of any caching solution is highly dependent upon the workload and the computing environment in which it is used.
The application performance test conducted on the bare metal host server demonstrates a 4.38 times increase in transactions per second as measured by HammerDB. The cache was only 1/3 the size of the database (workload) and was configured in write-back cache mode. The system activity graphs (figures 8 through 12) show operation of the cache as it warms up and enhances performance, as shown by the increased levels and intensity of SQL transactions and disk activity.
The file exclusion test highlights operation of a unique FlashSoft feature that allows the administrator to exclude individual files that would not typically benefit from caching. This frees caching resources to be applied toward “cacheable” files such as the database instead of the log or operating system. Additionally, it eliminates “thrashing” of the cache that occurs as the log is regularly updated with non- cacheable data intermixed with data of the database. The file exclusion test was conducted within a virtual machine to allow the log and operating system VHDx files to be excluded from cache acceleration. The parameters of the database and virtual machine storage were adjusted for this test to operate in the virtual machine. Table 2 illustrates a 2.8 times increase of performance over baseline when the log and operating system files are accelerated together with the database. Excluding the log and operating system in order to accelerate the database only further doubled the accelerated performance, resulting in nearly 6 times increase in performance compared to the baseline.
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