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Windows Server 2008 R2 & Intel Slam Dunk iSCSI Performance Benchmark

With the release of Windows Server 2008 R2, the Windows Server platform has evolved into a robust and scalable platform aimed squarely at the heaviest data center loads – and we’re always looking at new ways to prove it. Recently, in conjunction with Intel hardware, Windows Server 2008 R2 and Hyper-V achieved amazing throughput results over iSCSI.clip_image002

iSCSI stands for Internet Small Computer System Interface and amounts to a storage networking protocol that can carry SCSI data over TCP/IP networks. Because it allows client initiators to send storage commands to target SCSI-based storage devices on other machines across high-speed Ethernet networks, iSCSI is a popular way to build Storage Area Networks (SANs), as it allows network architects to use generic Ethernet components rather than closed-system SAN products. That means both a cheaper SAN network as well as an easier management stack.

The only trouble with iSCSI over Ethernet has been a nagging perception that this combination is slower than competing systems – and slow is death when you’re talking about storage. But that’s looking like a perception of the past following a fantastic iSCSI benchmarking result done with Intel hardware and Microsoft Windows Server software in January of 2010. Running on server hardware equipped with an Intel Xeon 5580 CPU and an Intel 82599 10GbE network interface card (NIC), Windows Server 2008 R2 achieved 715,000 IOPs. Leveraging new 10GbE network technology from Intel as well as the combination of Intel Virtual Machine Device Queuing (VMDq) matched with Windows Server 2008 R2 Hyper-V Virtual Machine Queuing (VMQ), the combination achieved a performance result that amounts to line rate 10GbE performance and near-native iSCSI performance across a network!

Results like these prove that combining Windows Server 2008 R2 with high-performance hardware can provide bleeding edge performance without the need to move to closed, proprietary systems –while still providing enough horsepower to tackle heavy data center workloads. Lots of kudos to Intel and the Windows Server Storage Technologies team for some excellent engineering. For some more information on this benchmark result, check this post from the virt team.

Oliver Rist

Windows Server Marketing