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Any use a RAID controller other than a PERC4 DC with a Dell PV 220s?

Posted on 2007-09-27
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-11-14
We have several dell Powervault 220s's that are connected to dell servers running windows 2003 with PERC 4/DC controllers. The performance is HORRIBLE max 60-70MB/sec no matter what the configuration RAID0, RAID5, RAID1. I have the latest drivers and firmware I get significantly better performance (2.5x better reads in RAID5) when I just make each disk it's own volume on the controller and then use software raid.

It would seem from posts in other boards that I am not alone with the performance issues with this setup and I am wondering if anyone out there has had any success in getting this setup to perform. Alternativly I would like to know if anyone has a non-Dell branded RAID controler that is known to perform well with the Powervault 220s.
Question by:MoLo07
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Expert Comment

ID: 19978369

Author Comment

ID: 19979847
This is definitly an issue with the controller.


I have all the latest firmware and drivers on the server, controller, and the EMMS. Unfortunetly it seems that the PERC cards are the only supported cards and the only real solution on anthing newer than a 7th generation dell servers is the PERC 4 which seems to have issues...
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Expert Comment

ID: 19980350
Which OS?
Are you using write through or write back?
What is the server used for? DB,file and print,mail?
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Author Comment

ID: 19980484
Windows 2003 R2
write back
The server is not in production right now, so I can change the config around at any point. If I can work out these throughput issues it will hopefully be a repository for our disk to disk backups, so intensive write operations for several hours are nessisary.

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Expert Comment

ID: 19980529
I would try changing the stripe size to 256 and see if that speeds things up.
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Expert Comment

ID: 19980552
If you do this,you will not be able to use ntfs compression.
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Expert Comment

ID: 19980589
From Dell:

Selecting Stripe Size
With RAID technology, data is striped across a group of physical drives. This data-distribution scheme complements the way the operating system requests data.

The granularity at which data is stored on one drive of the array before subsequent data is stored on the next drive of the array is called the stripe size.

You can set the stripe size to 16 KB, 32 KB, or 64 KB (for PERC 320 and CERC/SATA controllers, you also have stripe size options of 128, 256, 512, and 1024 KB). You can maximize the performance of your controller by setting the stripe size to a value that is close to the size of the system I/O requests.

For example: Performance in transaction-based environments, which typically involve large blocks of data, might be optimal when the stripe size is set to 32 KB or 64 KB.

Performance in file and print environments, which typically involve multiple small blocks of data, might be optimal when the stripe size is set to or 16 KB.

The collection of stripe units, from the first drive of the array to the last drive of the array, is called a stripe.

  NOTICE: After you configure a array and store data on the logical drives, you cannot change the stripe size without destroying data in the logical drives.  

To change the stripe size, do the following:

In the Logical Devices view, right-click the logical drive you want to modify.  

Select Expand or change logical device to open the Configuration wizard.

Click the Next button to go to step 2 in the wizard. Expand Advanced Settings, select a new Stripe size, and click Next.

Review the Configuration Summary to make sure that the new settings are correct, then click Apply to implement the change immediately or click Schedule to open the calendar and set up a time for the stripe sizing to occur.


Not all RAID levels or controller types allow you to change the stripe size.

After you configure a array and store data on the logical drives, you cannot change the stripe-unit size without destroying data in the logical drives.


Array Initialization
Arrays are initialized when they are created. There are three available settings for array initialization that can be configured from Advanced Settings in the Configuration wizard.

Initialize method. Determines the method used to initialize the logical drive. You can choose from three available settings:  

Build. For RAID Level-1 logical drives, copies the data from the primary drive to the mirror drive. For RAID Level-5 logical drives, computes and writes the correct parity for the entire logical drive.    Note: The Build method of initialization can be a lengthy operation. The RAID Storage Manager performs this task in the background. However, you cannot use the logical drive until the task is complete.  

Clear. Removes pre-existing data by overwriting every block in the logical drive. This method is faster than Build, but the logical drive is not available immediately.  For the HostRAID controller, the RAID Storage Manager supports the Clear initialization method only.

Quick. Makes the logical drive available immediately. It is the fastest method but should be used only for new physical disks.  

Initialize priority. Adjusts the priority of the initialization task. The default is High.

Author Comment

ID: 19992279
I have tried various stripe sizes from 16k up to 64k and various block sizes in the os to no avail. with 8 73 gig 10k spindles in RAID 5 with stripe size 64k the mean throughput is about  45mb/sec on continuous writes once the controller cache is full... which is only about 4 sec. Since this will mostly be transfer of large files back and forth I presume this will be the best stripe size, but the performance is still not what I would expect.
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Accepted Solution

pgm554 earned 1500 total points
ID: 19992546
Well,if that made no difference,I would get a hold of an Adaptec and see if it works any better.
The newer PERC's are LSI CHIP based,so it could be a driver problem.

The only other thing I could think of would be an issue with termination or cabling on the Dell. SAN..
I think all that Powervault is ,is a rebranded EMC of some sorts.

What are you using as a benchmark tool?
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Expert Comment

ID: 19992728
I just tested my Poweredge 2600 and Perc 4 ,my average sustained is 50 mb and my burst is 80 mb ,and this is coming off of 15k drives.

That looks normal by my standards.

I used HDTUNE ,latest version.

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