ezFIO – Powerful, Simple NVMe SSD Benchmark Tool

Written by Judith Vanderkay on . Posted in Blog

Article by Earle F. Philhower III, Western Digital Senior Manager, SSD Technical Marketing

Organizations’ users are adopting NVM Express attached enterprise SSD (eSSD) products at phenomenal rates. Increasing data volume and velocity require hundreds of thousands of IOPS and the gigabytes per second of bandwidth these new devices can provide. Today’s applications have higher parallelism and sustained performance needs, coupled with a need for predictable, consistent performance even when a device has been fully written and overwritten.

There are many benchmarks for peak metrics like IOPS and throughput. However, few address the non-stop nature of enterprise storage needs. So customers are left to develop their own methods. But writing a repeatable, meaningful benchmark is hard. Even more difficult is the task of presenting meaningful results in a spreadsheet or graph without the nightmare of manual cut-and-paste efforts.

That’s where ezFIO comes in: https://github.com/earlephilhower/ezfio . ezFIO is a Linux and Windows wrapper for the cross-platform FIO IO testing tool. It always includes a repeatable preconditioning (also known as “seasoning”) stage, to help simulate the true long-term performance of eSSDs. A wide variation in IO sizes and parallelism is run automatically.

ezFIO also includes long-term performance stability measures, which allow for latency outliers and deviations to be numerically represented and graphically identified quickly. These new SSD metrics show Quality of Service, both at a Macro level (standard deviation over time) and Micro Level (measurement of minimum and maximum latency outliers). And, finally, ezFIO takes all these results and produces an Open Document formatted spreadsheet usable under Linux or Windows with embedded graphs and raw test results to make examining these results consistently derived and for any NVMe device to be compared.

ezfio fig 1

Figure 1 — Select Drive Under FIO

To run ezFIO under Windows, simply install FIO and run a PowerShell script. Then select a drive, hit OK, and come back in several hours to an ODT formatted spreadsheet. ezFIO takes care of preconditioning the drive, running repeatable tests, and plotting the results. There is also a command-line option to allow for scripted runs against multiple devices in sequence, without user intervention. The Linux version is written in Python and implements the exact same sequence of preconditioning and tests, taking its drive under test from a command line parameter.

ezfio fig 2

Figure 2 – Real-Time Status

While tests are running, intermediate results are shown (full test results are always stored in a new test directory). These results appear in a GUI dialog under Windows, and the terminal under Linux.

Finally, when the tests are completed, all the individual runs are collated into a single spreadsheet in the ODT format (accessible under Microsoft Excel, Open Office, Libre Office, or others):

Average IOPS: 293,821

Standard Deviation: 8,363.7 IOPS

Coefficient of Variation: 3%

Figure 3 — Macro QoS (Stability Over Time)

ezfio fig 4

Figure 4 – Pre-generated Graphs for Immediate Export

A full user’s guide is available in the package, and since the software is completely open sourced and written in scripting languages (PowerShell for Windows, Python for Linux), it’s easily modifiable for power users without needing a complete development toolchain.

ezFIO represents the next-level of performance benchmarking for NVMe, taking into consideration many critical parameters that will yield the best possible results for most use cases.

Give ezFIO a try at https://github.com/earlephilhower/ezfio.

“NVM Express in the Linux Stack” — Webcast on May 12, 2016

Written by Judith Vanderkay on . Posted in Blog

Curious about NVM Express and Linux? Register for our upcoming webcast, May 12 at 11 AM Pacific time, with presenters Keith Busch, Intel and Matias Bjørling, CNEX and moderator Stephen Bates, Microsemi.

Here’s a synopsis of what they will cover:

NVM Express is becoming the de-facto standard for talking to Non-Volatile Memory over PCI Express. This is, in part, due to the great level of support NVM Express has in modern operating systems. In this webinar we will focus on the support for NVM Express in the Linux operating system. We will show how the NVM Express driver, combined with the Linux Block Layer, enables great performance, low latency and open-source management tools. This talk will focus on how Linux delivers such good performance on NVM Express devices, and discusses some of the roadmap items that are coming to the NVM Express and block layer in Linux. We will also discuss some of the management tools available for NVM Express and Linux today such as the NVMe command line interface tool (nvme-cli).

Can’t make the actual event? If you register you’ll be able to access the recording that will be posted immediately following, any time you like.

ezIOMeter Benchmark Tool Optimized for NVM Express

Written by Judith Vanderkay on . Posted in Blog

Article by Kei Kobayashi, Intel Technical Marketing Engineer

As the computing industry transitions from SATA-based SSDs to NVM Express-based SSDs utilizing PCIe, there has been a shift in benchmarking procedures for NVM Express devices.

One key feature of the NVMe protocol is the ability to take advantage of multiple CPU threads to access the NVMe device.

This greatly increases performance, especially in random 4K IOPs. However, many existing SSD/storage benchmarks do not take advantage of this feature, resulting in highly under-represented NVMe SSD performance.

Although some benchmarks (such as Crystal Disk Mark) have evolved in their test procedures, the vast majority still needs to be updated.

One tried and true storage tool that can meet the demand is IOMeter. However, IOmeter has traditionally been targeted to engineers as well as advanced users who already have a basic understanding of storage technology architecture.

IOmeter can be quite overwhelming for first-time users because it requires a lot of setup and configuration, even for the simplest of tests. This creates a challenge for new users to benchmark their NVMe devices to reach performance specifications.  Here is a screen shot of the IOmeter configuration screen: eziometer 1 ezIOmeter is a Windows-based client benchmark tool optimized for NVM Express storage devices. ezIOmeter utilizes IOmeter 1.1’s command line functionality to run industry-trusted IOmeter tests. ezIOmeter currently supports 64-bit Windows 7, 8, 8.1, and 10 operating systems. From installation to usability, ezIOmeter was created to simplify the user experience when benchmarking NVMe devices with IOMeter, while simultaneously representing the architecture’s performance characteristics accurately. eziometer 2

Unlike standard IOmeter, there are no multiple tabs. Simply select the drive you wish to test.

eziometer 3

Select the workloads you wish to run…

eziometer 4

Click “Run Tests!”

Each of the ezIOmeter runs takes a short amount of time and you can have results in less than five minutes! If you are interested, download ezIOmeter and give it a try! There is also really good documentation to get you started, if you are new to ezIOmeter!

“NVM Express for Consumers:” Webcast Feb. 25, 11 AM Pacific

Written by Judith Vanderkay on . Posted in Blog

Don’t miss “NVM Express for Consumers: Bringing High-performance PCIe SSDs to the Mainstream,” a free webcast with Jonmichael Hands, Product Marketing Manager, Intel, and RC Camillo, SSD Product Planning Manager, Samsung, scheduled for 11 AM on Thursday, February 25.

What’s it about? NVM Express was designed from the ground up for solid state drives to deliver high bandwidth and low latency through the PCIe interface with a new streamlined protocol, efficient performance, with industry standard software, drivers, and management. NVM Express is now THE standard for PCIe solid state drives, and it is now making its way into desktop, laptops, and mobile computing. In this webcast, you will learn how NVM Express is removing storage bottlenecks in client computing by driving the transition from the SATA interface and unleashing the full potential for flash storage. You’ll also be able to participate in a Q&A with the presenters.

Register now — if you can’t make the live broadcast, registration will also enable you to view the recorded webcast afterwards.

Registration open for NVM Express Members Meeting, March 21-22

Written by Judith Vanderkay on . Posted in Blog

Calling all NVM Express member company representatives — registration is open for the annual NVM Express, Inc. all-members meeting, set to take place in San Jose, March 21-22.  Don’t miss this opportunity to learn the latest about the NVM Express specification and the organization, and to network with others in the industry.

This two-day event will include an All-Member Meeting and Member Presentations, plus a Networking Mixer with product displays on Monday evening. For information on the agenda, activities and instructions on how to register, start at the members-only website.

DoubleTree by Hilton San Jose
2050 Gateway Place
San Jose, California, USA, 95110

A block of hotel rooms has been reserved for event attendees, with a special discounted rate of $249. Book your reservation soon!

Drive Trust Alliance adds NVMe support to SEDutil

Written by Judith Vanderkay on . Posted in Blog

Drive Trust Alliance maintains the popular sedutil application (formally called msed), which eases configuration of Self-Encrypting Drives implementing the TCG OPAL specification. Until recently only SATA/SCSI drives were supported by sedutil.

As of the 1.10 release, NVMe SEDs are officially supported by the Linux version of sedutil. This paves the way for NVMe OPAL SED adoption across a wide variety of datacenter, workstation, client, mobile, and IoT platforms.

Additional background information about NVMe OPAL Self-Encrypting Drives is available from this August 2015 blog post.

NVM Express Plugfest #5: Feb. 29-Mar. 3, 2016

Written by Judith Vanderkay on . Posted in Blog

Mark your calendars for the next NVM Express Plugfest event — it’s the fifth in the series, with a number of enhancements.

The University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory’s (UNH-IOL) NVMe Consortium will be hosting the fifth NVM Express Interoperability Plugfest the week of February 29-March 3, 2016. This event is an opportunity for NVMe Implementors to test the interoperability of their products.

The Plugfest will be held at the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory’s new facility located at 21 Madbury Rd, in Durham, NH.  More information about the testing that will be conducted can be found here.  There is also an NVMe Plugfest FAQ.


Webcast Dec. 10: “NVM Express® Solutions: Delivering Real-world Benefits”

Written by Judith Vanderkay on . Posted in Blog

We’ve scheduled another informative webcast with an NVM Express subject matter expert.  This one is entitled “NVM Express® Solutions: Delivering Real-world Benefits,” and the presenter is Jonmichael Hands, Product Marketing Manager, Intel Non-Volatile Memory Solutions Group.
It takes place on Thursday, December 10 at 11 AM Pacific time. Here’s what it will cover:
NVMe brings high performance and low latency PCIe SSDs into the mainstream with a streamlined protocol that is efficient and scalable, with an ease of deployment through industry standard software and drivers. NVMe is driving changes in cloud computing, software-defined infrastructure, virtualization, HPC, traditional database and big data analytics. See the areas where NVMe can add value to data center applications today through compelling solutions and proof points of real workloads and applications.
Register now — if the December 10 time isn’t convenient for you, registration will also let you access the recording of the event, which will be posted soon afterwards.
PS — did you miss our well-attended “NVM Express Over Fabrics” webcast last week?  You can join the hundreds of other people who have viewed the recording by signing in here.

New Storage Performance Development Kit now available

Written by Judith Vanderkay on . Posted in Blog

While non-volatile memory (NVM) technologies are transforming the storage landscape, the challenge of the I/O bottleneck that is caused by storage is ongoing. Intel recently announced a step in the direction of addressing the bottleneck with the Storage Performance Development Kit (SPDK), which is an open source initiative and available for download at https://01.org/spdk. The SPDK enables developers to work in user space, improves performance, and makes development simpler for storage developers. We encourage NVMe supporters to check out the SPDK to enhance their systems and join the open ecosystem that is leveraging shared technology.

To learn more about this great technology enabler, check out the blog at http://intel.ly/1RVhdne.