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What Workstation is Faster

I need to purchase an ETL machine for conversions.  The software will have MS SQL 2008, Monarch, and Pervasive SQL running on it.  3.5 processor and 32 gb of ram.  For hard drives I have three choices,

1.  4 SATA SSD 6 gb in a raid 10
2. 2 SSD SAS 12 gb in a raid 1
3. 2 SATA SSD 6 gb in raid 1 AND 1 iofusion IOFX pci card

My question, what is faster?  This machine will not service clients, it's only for one time operations routinely.  I am buying a Dell Precision, so I don't really know the specific drives, other than the description it says online.  Or, are there any alternatives that I can do for about the same cost (8k)?  I cannot do 4 SSD SAS in Raid 10 due to budget constraints.
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jonyelton
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jonyelton
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R. Toby RichardsNetwork AdministratorCommented:
Why aren't you considering RAID 5 or 6?
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jonyeltonAuthor Commented:
I'm under the impression raid10 is fastest.  Multiple hard drive failure is less a concern.
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jonyeltonAuthor Commented:
And to clarify (I don't see where I can edit the question), the 6 gb and 12 gb is the speed of the drives, in 6 gb/s and 12/gb/s not the size of the drives.
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R. Toby RichardsNetwork AdministratorCommented:
RAID 10 would be faster for reading only. RAID 5 would be a smaller speed boost, but for both reading and writing.
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Bill BachPresidentCommented:
You don't indicate the size of the PSQL database at all.  This would come back to reflect on the amount of RAM on your machine.  

You also don't indicate if you are going with a PSQL Workgroup engine, or using a Workgroup Engine.  The Workgroup Engine is 32-bit, and you'll be limited to accessing only about 3GB of data in the database L1 cache on a 64-bit OS.  If you go with the 64-bit Server Engine, you can use ALL available memory, and get a speed boost there, too.  

For the drives, if this is a conversion station ONLY, and not a permanent home for data, then I would recommend an SSD boot volume, then RAID0 (striped) disks (either SSD or spinning platters) for the data volume.  This will run faster than ANY other redundant RAID configuration.  Of course, if a drive fails, your system is down.  This is why having the separate SSD for the OS is important -- you can always replace the RAID0 drives (or switch back to a single drive) easily enough.  

In either case, a SAS configuration will perform better than a SATA configuration for database work, because of limitations in the SATA bus design when it comes to parallelism and disk accesses.  

For your three options, #2 is best.  Though I have some customers using the FusionIO card with great success, that might be more of a budget-killer, and increasing memory might be a better option.
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jonyeltonAuthor Commented:
Thanks all.

Typically, we receive a SQL database, and we use Monarch to load SQL tables by ODBC and modify the data.  This usually involves parsing and fixing long text fields, so it can be a long process.  Through Monarch, we export to Text, and then use a conversion utility to upload into Pervasive tables.  Typically, a SQL database is 30-40 gb and after converting into Pervasive the size is roughly 10 gb.  We never really read the Pervasive database, so the Pervasive cache never is running in memory.  Once converted, the data is moved to a production server.  So the "reading" only seems to happen when going from SQL into Monarch.  So it's certainly a combination of read and write.  On our existing machine, we never come close using the existing 32 gb of memory now, and according to the process viewers, everything seems to reflect the hard drive write speed as the problem (although more read is great too).

The only ioFusion that is in the budget is the workstation class.  I find it very difficult to really find what is the best option, I want the fastest performance of the disks that I can get reasonably!  I tried with hardware reps, but seem to get no where.  Thanks for the help, I'll keep this open a little longer than award points.
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Bill BachPresidentCommented:
If the PSQL database is less than 10GB, then I would think that a 12GB Ramdisk might be a plausible suggestion, too.
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Natty GregIn Theory (IT)Commented:
I'd go with 10, seems to me than in your setup read speed is more of an importance to you.
it has great redundancy, and it performs very well for what you need.
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