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Performance - 1gbps vs. 10gbps NICs?

Paul Hutchings
Super Advisor

Performance - 1gbps vs. 10gbps NICs?

I'm looking at SAN options and the HP option that appeals is the:

HP StorageWorks P4500 G2 Virtualization SAN Solution BQ888A as it seems to offer a good mix of speed, capacity, and if I add an AX701A I get the capacity I need at my primary site plus a bundle of VSA licenses so I can do a "cheap" DR site.

My question concerns iSCSI performance. Rightly or wrongly I'm wary as I get the impression that it's much easier to mess up iSCSI than it is, say, Fibre Channel.

My question is, would getting the 10gbps upgrade kit for the SAN units be beneficial simply because it's less connections to have to balance over?

I'm already thinking that with my vSphere hosts it would make sense to have a single 10gbps pNIC as primary in my vSwitch's with a 1gbps purely for backup?
4 REPLIES
Bryan McMullan
Trusted Contributor

Re: Performance - 1gbps vs. 10gbps NICs?

The decision is purely based on your need. 10G cards and switching equipment were well above my budget, so we are all 1G based and have had no issues. We just use multiple paths to the nodes on VSphere and have yet to have any performance issues related to the network.

My setup is 6 P4500's with 12 145GB 15k rpm SAS drives. Connected to 5 VSphere 4 servers running about 80 server VM's.

I'd suggest going with the 1G's and testing them out in your environment before taking the 10G jump.

Hope that helps
Steve Burkett
Valued Contributor

Re: Performance - 1gbps vs. 10gbps NICs?

When we were first looking at buying our P4500, we queried whether we should be stumping up the cash for the 10Gbps upgrade and the HP/Lefthand pre-sales tech person that covers a lot of the UK area said that the 1Gbps NIC's are rarely the bottleneck, it's more the drives that give you performance problems first. He said that the 10Gbps option was more driven by their marketing department, they wanted to have the option available on their brochures.

But as more and more 10Gbps kit comes out and the price drops it'll come the standard, till then we've not seen any performance problems on our P4500.
Jim Silvia
Advisor

Re: Performance - 1gbps vs. 10gbps NICs?

I concur with Steve and Brian that the NIC is normally not the bottle neck and i would stay with the 1 GB option. It isn't that difficult to setup ALB or LACP for a little extra boost.

I have a three node P4500 that hosts about 70 VM's. On average i see it running between 50-100 Mbps. When we run backups of our Exchange environment we see it jump higher up towards 500 Mbps without any degradation in performance for the rest of our VM's.

That being said - in test environment's, with ALB, using Robocopy as an example i've been able to push a clients P4300 ML SATA san up close to 950 Mbps - very impressive. I wouldn't get to go beyond that because of the host limitation.
Paul Hutchings
Super Advisor

Re: Performance - 1gbps vs. 10gbps NICs?

Thanks for the replies so far.

Just to clarify, when I said my concern was performance, it's not because I doubt that multiple 1gbps are sufficient, more than with (say) 3 nodes of 15k SAS P4500 and 2 ESX boxes, that's a lot of NICs flying about and a lot of things to get right so far as switch config and ESX multi-pathing and multi-pathing from within the guest if I wanted to do app aware snapshots of things like Exchange and SQL.