Condusiv Technologies Blog

Condusiv Technologies Blog

Blogging @Condusiv

The Condusiv blog shares insight into the issues surrounding system and application performance—and how I/O optimization software is breaking new ground in solving those issues.

Everything You Need to Know about SSDs and Fragmentation in 5 Minutes

by Howard Butler 17. November 2016 05:42

When reading articles, blogs, and forums posted by well-respected (or at least well intentioned people) on the subject of fragmentation and SSDs, many make statements about how (1) SSDs don’t fragment, or (2) there’s no moving parts, so no problem, or (3) an SSD is so fast, why bother? We all know and agree SSDs shouldn’t be “defragmented” since that shortens lifespan, so is there a problem after all?

The truth of the matter is that applications running on Windows do not talk directly to the storage device.  Data is referenced as an abstracted layer of logical clusters rather than physical track/sectors or specific NAND-flash memory cells.  Before a storage unit (HDD or SSD) can be recognized by Windows, a file system must be prepared for the volume.  This takes place when the volume is formatted and in most cases is set with a 4KB cluster size.  The cluster size is the smallest unit of space that can be allocated.  Too large of a cluster size results in wasted space due to over allocation for the actual data needed.  Too small of a cluster size causes many file extents or fragments.  After formatting is complete and when a volume is first written to, most all of the free space is in just one or two very large sections.  Over the course of time as files of various sizes are written, modified, re-written, copied, and deleted, the size of individual sections of free space as seen from the NTFS logical file system point of view becomes smaller and smaller.  I have seen both HDD and SSD storage devices with over 3 million free space extents.  Since Windows lacks file size intelligence when writing a file, it never chooses the best allocation at the logical layer, only the next available – even if the next available is 4KB. That means 128K worth of data could wind up with 32 extents or fragments, each being 4KB in size. Therefore SSDs do fragment at the logical Windows NTFS file system level.  This happens not as a function of the storage media, but of the design of the file system.

Let’s examine how this impacts performance.  Each extent of a file requires its own separate I/O request. In the example above, that means 32 I/O operations for a file that could have taken a single I/O if Windows was smarter about managing free space and finding the best logical clusters instead of the next available. Since I/O takes a measurable amount of time to complete, the issue we’re talking about here related to SSDs has to do with an I/O overhead issue.

Even with no moving parts and multi-channel I/O capability, the more I/O requests needed to complete a given workload, the longer it is going to take your SSD to access the data.  This performance loss occurs on initial file creation and carries forward with each subsequent read of the same data.  But wait… the performance loss doesn’t stop there.  Once data is written to a memory cell on an SSD and later the file space is marked for deletion, it must first be erased before new data can be written to that memory cell.  This is a rather time consuming process and individual memory cells cannot be individually erased, but instead a group of adjacent memory cells (referred to as a page) are processed together.  Unfortunately, some of those memory cells may still contain valuable data and this information must first be copied to a different set of memory cells before the memory cell page (group of memory cells) can be erased and made ready to accept the new data.  This is known as Write Amplification.  This is one of the reasons why writes are so much slower than reads on an SSD.  Another unique problem associated with SSDs is that each memory cell has a limited number of times that a memory cell can be written to before that memory cell is no longer usable.  When too many memory cells are considered invalid the whole unit becomes unusable.  While TRIM, wear leveling technologies, and garbage collection routines have been developed to help with this behavior, they are not able to run in real-time and therefore are only playing catch-up instead of being focused on the kind of preventative measures that are needed the most.  In fact, these advanced technologies offered by SSD manufacturers (and within Windows) do not prevent or reverse the effects of file and free space fragmentation at the NTFS file system level.

The only way to eliminate this surplus of small, tiny writes and reads that (1) chew up performance and (2) shorten lifespan from all the wear and tear is by taking a preventative approach that makes Windows “smarter” about how it writes files and manages free space, so more payload is delivered with every I/O operation. That’s exactly why more users run Condusiv’s Diskeeper® (for physical servers and workstations) or V-locity® (for virtual servers) on systems with SSD storage. For anyone who questions how much value this approach adds to their systems, the easiest way to find out is by downloading a free 30-day trial and watch the “time saved” dashboard for yourself. Since the fastest I/O is the one you don’t have to write, Condusiv software understands exactly how much time is saved by eliminating multiple, fractured writes with fewer, larger contiguous writes. It even has an additional feature to cache reads from idle, available DRAM (15X faster than SSD), which further offloads I/O bandwidth to SSD storage. Especially for businesses with many users accessing a multitude of applications across hundreds or thousands of servers, the time savings are enormous.

 

ATTO Benchmark Results with and without Diskeeper 16 running on a 120GB Samsung SSD Pro 840. The read data caching shows a 10X improvement in read performance.

First-ever “Time Saved” Dashboard = Holy Grail for ROI

by Brian Morin 2. November 2016 10:03

If you’ve ever wondered about the exact business value that Condusiv® I/O reduction software provides to your systems, the latest “time saved” reporting does exactly that.

Prior to V-locity® v6.2 for virtual servers and Diskeeper® 16 for physical servers and endpoints, customers would conduct expansive before/after tests to extract the intrinsic performance value, but struggled to extract the ongoing business benefit over time. This has been especially true during annual maintenance renewal cycles when key stakeholders need to be “re-sold” to allocate budget for ongoing maintenance, or push new licenses to new servers.

The number one request from customers has been to better understand the ongoing business benefit of I/O reduction in terms that are easily relatable to senior management and makes justifying the ROI painless. This “holy grail” search on part of our engineering team has led to the industry’s first-ever “time saved” dashboard for an I/O optimization software platform.

When Condusiv software proactively eliminates the surplus of small, fractured writes and reads and ensures more “payload” with every I/O operation, the net effect is fewer write and read operations for any given workload, which saves time. When Condusiv software caches hot reads within idle, available DRAM, the net effect is fewer reads traversing the full stack down to storage and back, which saves time.

In terms of benefits, the new dashboard shows:

    1. How many write I/Os are eliminated by ensuring large, clean, contiguous writes from Windows

    2. How many read I/Os are cached from idle DRAM

    3. What percentage of write and read traffic is offloaded from underlying SSD or HDD storage

    4. Most importantly – the dashboard relates I/O reduction to the business benefit of … “time saved”

This reporting approach makes the software fully transparent on the type of benefit being delivered to any individual system or groups of systems. Since the software itself sits within the Windows operating system, it is aware of latency to storage and understands just how much time is saved by serving an I/O from DRAM instead of the underlying SSD or HDD. And, most importantly, since the fastest I/O is the one you don’t have to write, Condusiv software understands how much time is saved by eliminating multiple small, fractured writes with fewer, larger contiguous writes.  

Have you ever wondered how much time V-locity will save a VDI deployment? Or an application supported by all-flash? Or a Hyperconverged environment? Rather than wonder, just install a 30-day version of the software and monitor the “time saved” dashboard to find out. Benefits are fully transparent and easily quantified.

Have you ever needed to justify Diskeeper’s endpoint solution across a fleet of corporate laptops with SSDs? Now you can see the “time saved” on individual systems or all systems and quantify the cost of labor against the number of hours that Diskeeper saved in I/O time across any time period. The “no brainer” benefit will be immediately obvious.

Customers will be pleasantly surprised to find out the latest dashboard doesn’t just show granular benefits but also granular performance metrics and other important information to assist with memory tuning. See the avg., min, and max of idle memory used for cache over any time period (even by the hour) to make quick assessments on which systems could use more memory to take better advantage of the caching engine for greater application performance. Customers have found if they can maintain at least 2GB used for cache, that's where they begin to get into the sweet spot of what the product can do. If even more can be maintained to establish a tier-0 cache strategy, performance rises even further. Systems with at least 4GB idle for cache will invariably serve 60% of reads or more. 

 

 

       Lou Goodreau, IT Manager, New England Fishery

      “32% of my write traffic has been eliminated and 64% of my read traffic has been cached within idle memory. This saved over 20 hours in I/O time after 24 days of testing!”

       David Bruce, Managing Partner, David Bruce & Associates

                                    “Over 50% of my reads are now served from DRAM and over 30% of write traffic has

                                   been eliminated by ensuring large, contiguous writes. Now everything is more

                                   responsive!"

 

Diskeeper Corporation announces – How Much Faster is Your PC Contest?

by Colleen Toumayan 16. August 2011 08:12

Diskeeper Corporation announced today the launch of a PC Speed Contest where contestants are asked to Show – via a picture or short video and Tell – the remarkable gains that they have received in accelerating PC performance using Diskeeper® 2011 performance software.

Diskeeper increases the speed and reliability of all PCs by improving system performance, faster boot-up times and increased speeds on everything from internet browsing to antivirus scans. Diskeeper 2011 gives PCs faster-than-new speed without any effort from the user.

The grand prize winner will receive a new Laptop computer and a copy of Diskeeper 2011 Pro-Premier software.

To enter the contest: http://tinyurl.com/3b37ayq

Tags:

Defrag | Diskeeper | Diskeeper TV

Diskeeper 2011 Professional Review in Smart Computing Magazine

by Colleen Toumayan 1. June 2011 09:24

Improve Data Performance 

For years, we have loved Diskeeper and the way it works in the background to keep your hard drives defragmented. Defragmentation programs have been available for decades, but Diskeeper is among the true innovators.With the release of 2011, the tool has gotten even better. 

Basic Bits 

Drive defragmenters aggregate the data—which drives normally break into chunks and store wherever necessary— into contiguous blocks. This speeds access time (and therefore system performance), and can literally prevent a drive from crashing.  Diskeeper takes a multipronged approach to defragmentation that eases its system impact and helps keep your drives humming along smoothly. For one thing, its IntelliWrite technology prevents fragmentation before it happens. Its new Efficient Mode feature improves the defragmenting process by identifying problem fragmentation. The Instant Defrag feature tidies up any leftover fragments it cannot process during the initial file save. Both of these happen on the fly, in the background,and with little to no impact on system resources.  

The full review is located here.

Tags: , , ,

Diskeeper | Diskeeper TV | InvisiTasking

IT News for the Week

by Feng 25. May 2011 10:11

Windows 8 Coming in 2012. Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer on Monday confirmed that Windows 8 will be available in 2012. 

Microsoft denies Intel statements about Windows 8 on ARM‎. Microsoft last week denied statements made by Intel executives about Microsoft's plans for Windows 8 on ARM processors, calling them “factually inaccurate.” 

Rackspace offers hosted virtual desktops from Citrix‎. Rackspace announced Monday that it is offering hosted Citrix XenDesktop and XenApp, hoping to make using virtual desktops easier. 

Jive buys OffiSync to deepen links with Microsoft apps‎. Jive Software has acquired OffiSync, whose technology links Microsoft desktop applications with cloud-based enterprise social collaboration suites. 

ARM chases server opportunities for low-power processors. ARM Holdings is seeking the support of software makers for its plan to put its low-power processors in servers. 

Fusion-io is going public. Fusion-io, the company that makes SSDs for companies like Facebook, is planning a bigger-sized initial public offering. 

Twitter acquires popular client TweetDeck‎. Twitter has reached an agreement to acquire TweetDeck, a Twitter desktop client preferred by many of the social-media service's most active users, for $40 million in cash and stock. 

Amazon adds electronics to Trade-Ins‎. Amazon last Thursday expanded its Trade-In program to include electronics, allowing consumers to ship gadgets to the online retailer for free in exchange for a gift card. 

Microsoft blasts EU antitrust fine in appeals hearing‎. Calling it "excessive," Microsoft this week criticized in an appeals hearing the 899 million euro fine imposed three years ago by EU antitrust regulators on Microsoft for failing to comply with a court order. 

ISuppli warns explosion at China plant may slow iPad production. iPad manufacturer Foxconn last week suspended operations at its facility in Chengdu, China after a fatal explosion, which could result in a production loss of 500,000 Apple’s iPad 2 tablets in the second quarter.

Tags:

Diskeeper | Diskeeper TV

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