Posted in Computers, Hardware

HP P212 Smart Array Controller Performance Test on HP MicroServer N40L

Here are the results of a speed test after installing the HP P212 Smart Array controller on the HP MicroServer N40L. The OS is installed on the 250 GB drive, which I moved to the ODD slot position and is connected to the motherboard via the internal SATA port. The BIOS was upgraded with a modded version to unlock the SATA ports from IDE configuration.

Network speeds top 125MB/s when copying or moving large files (4GB) such as ISOs or MKVs. Smaller files such as pictures, mp3s, documents copy slower from a networked PC running Windows 7 x64, connected to an 8-port TrendNet Gigabit switch, speeds range between 30MB/s and 40MB/s, but mostly in the 60-70MB/s range; sometimes higher, all depends on amount of files and their size.

The server is running Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise.

Additional specs:

  • 8GB ECC Kingston RAM
  • HP P212 Smart Array Controller with 256 MB and BBWC
  • 3 Samsung HD204UI disks on raid 5 connected to the P212 controller,¬†512KB stripe size, cache settings are 25% read & 75% write. Write-back enabled.

The system is configured and running. It only has the file and printer sharing roles installed,  indexing for certain folders (paused for the tests), CrashPlan Desktop+ (on sleep mode for the tests). The server was idle, showing no CPU or disk load during these tests.

The default settings for ATTO were used, only changing the drive to be tested.

Clicking on each image will open it up to its full size.

Test 1

Test 2

Test 3

Not sure why test 3 was the slowest, even after trying a few times. There was no load on the server at all.

If I’m not mistaken and from what I’ve read online, I believe that adding an extra disk to the raid 5 array should improve speeds, but so far, this is pretty satisfactory for me for now, especially when using “green” disks which run at 5900 RPM.

If anyone out there has any recommendations for getting the best performance from this raid controller, please share them with me. I’m not sure if the current stripe settings of 512KB or the cache settings offer the best performance for my needs, which are general file & multimedia server for a small home network. If anyone would like me to run any additional tests in ATTO by using different settings, let me know. Also please feel free to share any other mods or ideas you may have for the MicroServer.

I plan to post additional details on the installation and setup of the card, with some more pictures.

Posted in Computers, Networking, Windows Server

My Comments on an HP MicroServer N40L

I’ve been playing with an HP MicroServer N40L for a few weeks now. Initially, I installed Ubuntu 11.10 and tried it out for a few days, but wiped it and installed Windows Server 2008 R2. I plan to use this machine as a file and media server, so I’m exploring a few options out there to give me the most flexibility and allow me to do what I want.

While reading a few blogs and forum posts, I’ve noticed most people – or at least a lot of them – are using WHS 2011 on their MicroServer. I don’t have a license for WHS 2011, but do have licenses for Server 2008 R2, so that’s what I’m using so far. In addition to using it as a file server, I would like to do some minor virtualization, mainly to separate the main OS from the media apps.

After upgrading the RAM from its initial 2GB to 4GB, I tested ESXi 5, which ran okay (a little slow using local storage), but not being able to use local disks as pass-through disks for the virtual machines was a big turn off, so I discarded that idea.

I’ve been running Hyper-V Server – initially on a full Windows installation, but then decided to try it on Core, and so far it’s been great. One of the best things about Hyper-V that fits my needs is the ability to use a local disk as pass-through. This way, I can install the OS on a VHD and use pass-through disks for storage. Been testing this for a few days, and I don’t see much (if any) of a performance hit when copying files from the network. When copying large files from a networked PC to the virtual machine’s pass-through disk, file speeds range from 20-110MB/s+, really depends on the kind of file I’m copying. Large files such as ISOs or MKVs are the fastest to copy, mostly at 90MB/s+.

Not all is nice and pretty with Hyper-V on Server Core, as it initially requires a bit more work to get properly configured and running, but once it’s up, it’s a “set it and forget it” kind of thing. I may post my installation and configuration notes for Hyper-V on Server Core 2008 R2 from beginning to end in the near future.