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Slow RAID 1 on five DL320 G2 servers !

Occasional Visitor

Slow RAID 1 on five DL320 G2 servers !


I just got 5 DL320 G2 servers with P4 3.06GHz, RAID 1 enabled on 2 x 80GB HD using the default IDE cabling installed.

I too noticed very slow disk performance on install and use. Using PerformanceTest 4.0, I got performance 4 TIMES slower than a typical P4 2.2GHz disk !!!

I did an automatic OS prep with SmartStart with latest IDE drivers 2.5.2003.6.13.

I know it's not a true h/w RAID, but it shouldn't be 4 times slower anyway.

If the cables are indeed the culprit, does anybody know if we can use standard 80-pin Ultra ATA/IDE cables to rewire that, even if it means reinstalling the whole OS ?

I need the RAID1 with a little more performance here ! I got my servers for $840 each with free HD, so I wonder if HP knew about this problem, and got rid of these lemons...
Honored Contributor

Re: Slow RAID 1 on five DL320 G2 servers !

I am not sure that some round IDE cables would improve this, but as an "inexpensive" fix item it is worth the try.
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Occasional Visitor

Re: Slow RAID 1 on five DL320 G2 servers !

I actually checked the server and the wiring because I thought there was only one cable connecting to both disks.

In fact, each disk is actually on its own channel with its own cable, one as primary, one as secondary, both connected to an on-board Silicon Image chip. The CD-ROM is on a different connector and different controller, so shouldn't be an issue (even though I forced it from PIO to DMA mode).

The write performance becomes pretty much normal on the servers if I enable write caching, which of course I won't.

The performance hit is in fact on READ performance, which is actually very surprising for a RAID 1, for which you would expect slow write instead.

I am using Windows 2000 Server with original HP disks (Maxtor).

On one server actually, I installed Windows 2003 Ent. evaluation with 2x160GB Seagate (replaced the original HDs), and the read performance is GOOD.

I was thinking of changing cable select on HDs to forced master, but I doubt it would help.

Since it works ok on the W2003 server, I thought of a driver issue, even though they were the latest. I got the latest PSP 7.10 and installed the latest versions of everything. Didn't make a difference.

I don't want to keep reinstalling OSes to see if the problem is hardware or software, without any guarantee it would fix the problem.

I'm open to any suggestion.

Mike Chang
Occasional Visitor

Re: Slow RAID 1 on five DL320 G2 servers !


I'm having the same issue with my new DL320 G2 server. The only difference is that I removed the 80GB HD's that came with the server and bought some 160's instead (BTW, it seems the controller only recognizes 130GB max...didn't know before I bought the 160's). I'm trying to install Windows 2003 server and I'm seeing the same performance issues.

Normally on the install screen when windows is copying the setup files, the file names should fly by faster than you can read them. Well, each file name is staying on the screen for about 2 seconds. This is ridiculous...took me about 1 hour to just finish copying the setup files when it should take about 5 mins.

Anyways, just thought you'd like to know someone else was seeing the same issue. Have you gotten any answers from HP? Let me know if you find anything. Thanks.
Occasional Visitor

Re: Slow RAID 1 on five DL320 G2 servers !

Hi Mike,

Well, I guess I got lucky that on one of the servers, I got good speeds even using Windows 2003 Server (SBS Premium eval) with Seagate 160GB disks (the controller is indeed limited to 137GB, as stated in the specs sheet).

So, it seems that this slowdown happens:
- regardless if we used the existing Compaq/Maxtor drives or put new disks in
- regardless if we use W2k or W2003 server

I still wonder why I am having a difference of performance between these two servers. I feel there might be a trick maybe in the config.

The only thing I remember now on the fast server is that while setting up the RAID array or using SmartStart (can't remember which step), I got some kind of an error message, and I did some config change/reinitialization. I know it's vague but it could be that the RAID array needs to be wiped out and recreated/reinitialized and this could fix the problem.

Does anyone here from HP have an explanation, or at least some suggestions ?

There are probably hundreds of people with the same problem, some had no clue about this issue because that might be their very first server due to the attractive price. I guess you get what you paid for.

My next step was to try to get an IDE raid card and put in the PCI-X slot, which I am almost 100% sure would work WAY BETTER. Unfortunately, all IDE RAID cards I have were 5v, with the "notch" on the connector on the wrong side. If you plan to do that,
you need either a 3v or a Universal one (the one with the 3.3v AND the 5v notches). Also, you might want to shy away of the cheap IDE RAID cards in the $40-$80 range, since they also use a pseudo HW/SW RAID with a Silicon chip on the card like the HP Proliant one.

Please let me know what you attempt, and I'll do the same.
Mike Chang
Occasional Visitor

Re: Slow RAID 1 on five DL320 G2 servers !

Okay, I downloaded the PerformanceTest 5.0V and got the following numbers:

Sequential Read : 42.9(MB/s)
Sequential Write : 6.1 (MB/s)
Random Seek : 2.5 (MB/s)

The Sequential Read performance doesn't seem too bad, but the write performance is definately poor. It's about the same speed as a P2 300MHz laptop disk according to some of the sample benchmarks available. about poor performance.

Next I tried enabling write cache (yes, I understand the potential data-loss issues) and ran the benchmarks again:

Sequential Read : 32.4(MB/s)
Sequential Write : 33.4 (MB/s)
Random Seek : 3.5 (MB/s)

Wow...that's a ~10x improvement. I didn't realize write-caching made that big of a difference. Perhaps there's nothing "wrong" with the controller afterall?

I think I'll have to research more about the plus/minuses of enabling write-caching on a server. Without the write-caching, the server is so slow that it is practically useless.