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    Server 2012 Storage Spaces-Testing the RTM Version


    Dave

    Intro and Test Setup

    Following in the tradition of testing each release, here is a summary of the testing I did on the RTM version of Server 2012 Storage Spaces.  Since this has the final code, the hope was that it was tuned and tweaked to provide the maximum performance and stability.

    Issues

    Right off the bat I ran into a major problem.  Since I had already configured a storage space volume which I have been using to test Essentials and Windows 8, I fully expected the volume to just be there and functional after installing Server 2012.  That expectation of course turned out to be “wrong”.  The storage spaces volume that I had created showed in the control panel but did not show in the file manger.  When viewing it in the Storage Spaces manager it had an exclamation point next to the volume with no real explanation as to what the problem was.  It showed all the drives healthy but showed an issue with the volume itself.  I attempted to fix the error using their tools (right clicking on the error gave you the option of repairing the error) but after an hour or so of attempts, I gave up and decided to delete and start again.  That turned out to not be so simple either.  After deleting the storage pool and initializing each drive, Storage Spaces never let me reconfigure the drives correctly after that.  It only showed only 1 of the drives being available despite showing all three drives in the drive section of the storage manager.  I spent another two hours trying to create an storage space volume with no luck.  I actually had to use 3 new drives and start from scratch and then was able to create the parity volume.  I took the three drives it would not let me configure and put them on the Highpoint card and had no trouble creating a RAID 5 volume.

    Hardware used for testing

    • Core I3-540
    • 4 Gigs of DDR3
    • 3 x 2T EADS drives on a Highpoint 2680 (for comparison)
    • 3 x 2T EADS drives on motherboard Sata ports for Storage Spaces

    P1020422  P1020424

    Walkthrough and Setup

    For those who have not seen the process for creating a Storage Space volume, below is the step by step walkthrough for setting up Storage Spaces in Server 2012 RTM.  This is a multi-step process that really has not changed much since the last release.  It is however different than what is used in Windows 8 and Server Essentials as they do not require the use of creating a Virtual Drive.

    • First Step is to create a “Storage Pool”.  This associates the drives together for flexible configuration later when you create the actual Virtual Drive.

    SNAG-0322  SNAG-0323 SNAG-0333  SNAG-0334 SNAG-0335  SNAG-0336 SNAG-0337  SNAG-0338

    • Next is to create actual Virtual Disk from the pool you created above.

    SNAG-0339  SNAG-0340 SNAG-0341  SNAG-0342 SNAG-0343  SNAG-0344

    • Next is to create the final Volume

    SNAG-0345  SNAG-0346 SNAG-0347  SNAG-0348 SNAG-0349  SNAG-0350 SNAG-0352  SNAG-0353

    • When you have completed, your Disk Panel and file manager look like this.  As you can see I have a 3.6T Parity Drive and a 3.6T RAID 5 volume.

    SNAG-0354  SNAG-0333a

    Results

    Below are the results of my testing.  I tested using traditional benchmarks on the actual machine, as well as doing some heavy file copies over the network.  The first set of tests are from the RAID 5 Volume using a Highpoint 2680, and second set are with the “Parity” Storage Spaces Volume.

     

     

     

    Results using a Highpoint 2680 in RAID 5 configuration

     

    SNAG-0355  SNAG-0322a

     

    SNAG-0360  SNAG-0361

     

    SNAG-0362  SNAG-0363

     

     

     

    Results from the Storage Spaces “Parity Volume”

     

    SNAG-0356  SNAG-0323a

     

    SNAG-0366  SNAG-0361

     

    SNAG-0369  SNAG-0370

    Summary

    If you look closely at the results you will come to same conclusion I did.  The read speeds are on par with a hardware solution but the write speeds are no where close.  Even if you throw out the benchmarks, the file copy performance is undisputable and painfully slow.  You can argue that it is easy and does not require any hardware, and I would argue that in my experience with this and the prior versions, it is less stable and considerably slower.  Considering the market this is attacking, this would definitely be a bad choice for any serious application.  Server 2012 itself is awesome and seems very robust for the time I have used it, but IMO, I would not put this caliber of this software with a storage solution like Storage Spaces.  To see 2.5-3x times lower write performance is simply not acceptable considering the price range and expectation of Server 2012 as a product.  I would argue it would not even make sense on a home version of this product given the failures I have had using Storage Spaces (Essentials version and this one) and what appears to be questionable portability between systems.  It is possible that the issues I had were flukes, and I have been know to break things, but be warned if you are going to use Storage Spaces as your primary storage volume as I still do not think it is robust enough for prime time…

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    I had this storage spaces problem also, once before. It appears that you can not make a storage pool from drives with anything on them. I had to format any drives that had been used for a previous install, (thus losing all data) and then was able to use them in the pool. I first saw this problem in Win8 customer preview.

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    How does performance compare to the others like Flexraid, unRaid, Drive Bender? Raid card is always going to win.

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    With regards to identifying drives, doesn't SS identify the drives via a Serial Number?

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    I also would love to see a comparison to these results and Flexraid, unRaid, Drive Bender!

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    Great article... you answered my question about the storage spaces...Thanks!

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    It all depends on the CPU. With mirror-mode you are pretty close to a single drive's speed. When looking at parity (particularly with writing) then it gets very CPU intensive quick. When testing a 3x1.5TB 7200rpm setup with Parity the write perf is equal or better than a single drive for the first 10-15 seconds then it tanks. At this point the CPU will max out all cores while it's generating the parity information to write the data out. I would go from saturating a gig link to 5Mbps bursts.

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