[CentOS] disk I/O problems and Solutions

Tim Pickard tpickard at crossref.org
Fri Oct 9 17:33:09 UTC 2009

Hi Alan,

You will get the best performance on /dev/sdb by making that a RAID 10
device.  The write penalty for R5 is a killer.  You will lose a bit of
space over R5 but the performance is worth it.

As to the external enclosure, 15k 300g SAS drives are dropping in price
if you shop around or ask a sales person for a break since you are
buying more that 2-4.  Dell gave us a nice break on our last order to ~
$300 per disk.  I would use R10 there as well.  Do make sure to look at
the controller attaching the array.  It may be best to let it do the
raid on the hardware side.  It may be best to do 2 or 3 R10 groups to
maximize the channels or one big R10 to take advantage of I/O spindle
distribution.  Do spread your data around as much as possible.  

If you have to use the SATA drives, then definitely fill up the array
and spread the load as wide as possible.

Hope this helps.


On Fri, 2009-10-09 at 12:45 -0400, Alan McKay wrote:

> Hey folks,
> CentOS / PostgreSQL shop over here.
> I'm hitting 3 of my favorite lists with this, so here's hoping that
> the BCC trick is the right way to do it :-)
> We've just discovered thanks to a new Munin plugin
> http://blogs.amd.co.at/robe/2008/12/graphing-linux-disk-io-statistics-with-munin.html
> that our production DB is completely maxing out in I/O for about a 3
> hour stretch from 6am til 9am
> This is "device utilization" as per the last graph at the above link.
> Load went down for a while but is now between 70% and 95% sustained.
> We've only had this plugin going for less than a day so I don't really
>  have any more data going back further.  But we've suspected a disk
> issue for some time - just have not been able to prove it.
> Our system
> IBM 3650 - quad 2Ghz e5405 Xeon
> 8K SAS RAID Controller
> 6 x 300G 15K/RPM SAS Drives
> /dev/sda - 2 drives configured as a RAID 1 for 300G for the OS
> /dev/sdb - 3 drives configured as RAID5 for 600G for the DB
> 1 drive as a global hot spare
> /dev/sdb is the one that is maxing out.
> We need to have a very serious look at fixing this situation.   But we
> don't have the money to be experimenting with solutions that won't
> solve our problem.  And our budget is fairly limited.
> Is there a public library somewhere of disk subsystems and their
> performance figures?  Done with some semblance of a standard
> benchmark?
> One benchmark I am partial to is this one :
> http://wiki.postgresql.org/wiki/PgCon_2009/Greg_Smith_Hardware_Benchmarking_notes#dd_test
> One thing I am thinking of in the immediate term is taking the RAID5 +
> hot spare and converting it to RAID10 with the same amount of storage.
>  Will that perform much better?
> In general we are planning to move away from RAID5 toward RAID10.
> We also have on order an external IBM array (don't have the exact name
> on hand but model number was 3000) with 12 drive bays.  We ordered it
> with just 4 x SATAII drives, and were going to put it on a different
> system as a RAID10.  These are just 7200 RPM drives - the goal was
> cheaper storage because the SAS drives are about twice as much per
> drive, and it is only a 300G drive versus the 1T SATA2 drives.   IIRC
> the SATA2 drives are about $200 each and the SAS 300G drives about
> $500 each.
> So I have 2 thoughts with this 12 disk array.   1 is to fill it up
> with 12 x cheap SATA2 drives and hope that even though the spin-rate
> is a lot slower, that the fact that it has more drives will make it
> perform better.  But somehow I am doubtful about that.   The other
> thought is to bite the bullet and fill it up with 300G SAS drives.
> any thoughts here?  recommendations on what to do with a tight budget?
>   It could be the answer is that I just have to go back to the bean
> counters and tell them we have no choice but to start spending some
> real money.  But on what?  And how do I prove that this is the only
> choice?
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