I am configuring a server for a small, but read I/O intensive database. It serves as a master index for public access to a larger Oracle RAC database. When looking at the requirements for I/O, it was determined that an array of SSDs would provide the required performance with lower cost than a large number of SAS 15K spindles. I have an HP server, with a Smart Array P400 that will be connected only to the SSDs. The controller has 256MB of BBWC. The SSDs are the Samsung (I believe) manufactured 60GB SLC based 2.5" SATA.

I'm wondering if anyone has insight into the best stripe sizes for RAID 10 or 5, filesystem recommendations? We're going to be doing Oracle 11g, so I believe I'm required to have a filesystem rather than using RAW block device. Server will be running RHEL 5.5.

I've done a ton of reading in the past few months about SSDs, and I'm not opposed to doing a lot more, but my google-fu has begun to fail me in moving forward. The majority of the docs I'm finding on SSD RAID are for people doing a RAID 0 of consumer level SSDs for the boot drive on their home PC to make Windows 7 boot and load games faster. What I'm saying is that I'm not looking for someone to do my job, just provide any experience they've had or a link to a doc they found somehwere.

Thanks in advance!

EDIT for some additional info rather than replying to every individual comment:

The drive space is not a concern at all, as the database is small enough to fit on one of the SSDs without a problem.

Being a very read heavy DB (95%+ random read in 4-8k), I thought I might get better performance from RAID 5 just because I can read from N-1 drives in the array, rather than only the active disks in the mirror, as I've read things that indicate that the Smart Array P400 does not support reading from both sides of the mirror in a RAID 10 set. That said, I'm fairly certain that the controller will end up being a bottleneck before I have to worry about that.

On TRIM: I'm fairly certain that even if these drives supported TRIM (I don't believe they do), then it'd be somewhat difficult getting the TRIM commands pushed through the RAID controller to the individual drives. OS support is also dicey, as Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5 is still based on the 2.6.18 Kernel tree, albeit with a lot of customization to bring in features from later kernel releases. EXT4 is also not officially supported yet, and being a Production box, I need to keep myself in the realm where Red Hat and HP will help me if something goes wrong. I do believe that there is some kind of garbage collection going on at the drive level, though. I have filled the disks several times in the course of different benchmarking, and haven't seen a marked decrease in write speed that I would expect if I were having to wait for the Erase/Program cycle rather than just the Program cycle.

Here is some benchmark data for a 6 drive RAID 10 array, using 256KB Stripe size. Partition is EXT3, aligned at 64 sectors. NOOP scheduler is used, and the NOATIME option is given at mount. I also increased the OS read cache to 8MB (I believe the default is 512K). I used Iozone 3.347 for this test, with a record size of 4KB, and a benchmark file size of 25GB to hopefully take cache out of the picture and measure the actual performance of the drives. I also ran this with four threads (4x25GB files are written by 4 child processes to stress the drive.)

Run began: Mon Aug 30 12:09:57 2010

    Record Size 4 KB
    File size set to 26214400 KB
    Command line used: /opt/iozone/bin/iozone -b /root/4k25g4t.xls -r 4k -s 25g -t 4 -i 0 -i 1 -i 2
    Output is in Kbytes/sec
    Time Resolution = 0.000001 seconds.
    Processor cache size set to 1024 Kbytes.
    Processor cache line size set to 32 bytes.
    File stride size set to 17 * record size.
    Throughput test with 4 processes
    Each process writes a 26214400 Kbyte file in 4 Kbyte records

    Children see throughput for  4 initial writers  =  253416.93 KB/sec
    Parent sees throughput for  4 initial writers   =  229461.66 KB/sec
    Min throughput per process                      =   61416.07 KB/sec
    Max throughput per process                      =   64604.90 KB/sec
    Avg throughput per process                      =   63354.23 KB/sec
    Min xfer                                        = 24924492.00 KB

    Children see throughput for  4 rewriters        =  259375.90 KB/sec
    Parent sees throughput for  4 rewriters         =  234136.11 KB/sec
    Min throughput per process                      =   63879.16 KB/sec
    Max throughput per process                      =   65675.30 KB/sec
    Avg throughput per process                      =   64843.97 KB/sec
    Min xfer                                        = 25497648.00 KB

    Children see throughput for  4 readers          =  490873.09 KB/sec
    Parent sees throughput for  4 readers           =  490830.09 KB/sec
    Min throughput per process                      =  119007.65 KB/sec
    Max throughput per process                      =  124878.35 KB/sec
    Avg throughput per process                      =  122718.27 KB/sec
    Min xfer                                        = 24984912.00 KB

    Children see throughput for 4 re-readers        =  477533.65 KB/sec
    Parent sees throughput for 4 re-readers         =  477503.03 KB/sec
    Min throughput per process                      =  115802.55 KB/sec
    Max throughput per process                      =  121579.46 KB/sec
    Avg throughput per process                      =  119383.41 KB/sec
    Min xfer                                        = 24973364.00 KB

    Children see throughput for 4 random readers    =   35728.62 KB/sec
    Parent sees throughput for 4 random readers     =   35728.53 KB/sec
    Min throughput per process                      =    8926.97 KB/sec
    Max throughput per process                      =    8937.35 KB/sec
    Avg throughput per process                      =    8932.16 KB/sec
    Min xfer                                        = 26183936.00 KB

    Children see throughput for 4 random writers    =   23527.42 KB/sec
    Parent sees throughput for 4 random writers     =   20701.37 KB/sec
    Min throughput per process                      =    5757.43 KB/sec
    Max throughput per process                      =    6035.68 KB/sec
    Avg throughput per process                      =    5881.86 KB/sec
    Min xfer                                        = 25011236.00 KB

"Throughput report Y-axis is type of test X-axis is number of processes"
"Record size = 4 Kbytes "
"Output is in Kbytes/sec"

"  Initial write "  253416.93

"        Rewrite "  259375.90

"           Read "  490873.09

"        Re-read "  477533.65

"    Random read "   35728.62

"   Random write "   23527.42

5 Answers 5


Some points I didn't see in other answers so far:

  • A high end server SSD will ge bood for about 30.000 IO. RealSSD go up to 50.000
  • As such, you CAN use RAID 5. Point. Your bottleneck is very likely going to be the RAID controller which simply is not made with SSD IOPS in mind, so it will max out it's CPU.

In general, SSD are about 100 times as fast as SAS drives in random IO. Some more. Depending on your requirements it is totally feasible to replace a RAID 10 of SAS with a RAID 5 of SSD and still get ahead - significnatly - both in IOPS as well as price.

Optimal stripe size is typical multiple of 64k - especially as SSD read / write in these segments anyway. TRIM is not necessarily needed then (no partial writes)... but it would be really nice to have that.

MS has some papars on SSD in databases which apply to oracle as well (same principle - optimizion IOPS). Oracle should have some, too.

  • Thanks. Most of what I've found from Oracle has been either older information for DRAM based SSD, or information specific to running on their shiny newly acquired SUN hardware. I didn't think to look for MS SQL tuning info, but so long as I can translate Windows-Linux, you're right that the data should hold true.
    – John
    Aug 31, 2010 at 16:15
  • 1
    It translated prett well because at the end they compare didfferent disc layouts and their resulting random access IOPS. At the end of the day, in this regard, databases are surprisingly similar. It is alwo not about tuning, but it gives a nice comparison of different hardware loadouts FROM A DATABASE POINT OF VIEW (which most reviews totally ignore).
    – TomTom
    Aug 31, 2010 at 17:45

RAID-10 would be ideal.

Considering the cost of the typical Intel 64GB SLC SSD is around 700$, and that you would need 4 of these to create RAID-10, while 64GB of DDR3 Registered ECC RAM cost around 1600$ (unless you're buying it from Dell) it may have been a wiser investment to get the RAM, which is faster and will last much longer than any SSD.

The idea would be to host the whole database in the RAM, assuming your database size plus its indexes don't go over 64GB.

  • Shat SATA II based RAID has more IOPS than SSD? Dreaming? SSD are good for about 100 times as many IOPS as a SAS drive - in the bad case.
    – TomTom
    Aug 31, 2010 at 15:32
  • I think you're suggesting running the database in memory rather than on SSD. This was looked at as well, and shot down by my DBAs, but I didn't push it with them. If you have any links for best practices/tutorials on running the DB in memory, I might be able to do so. The server does have 24GB of RAM, and I beleive there are at least 3 slots left. I'm not sure where you're finding 64GB of DDR3 for $1000 unless prices have dropped significantly in the last couple of weeks. 4GB DIMMS are under $300, but you'd still need 16 of them for 64GB, difficult with only 9 slots per CPU (1 cpu box).
    – John
    Aug 31, 2010 at 16:28
  • @TomTom: I know how fast an SSD is and I wasn't suggesting using SATA drives instead of SSDs.
    – gekkz
    Aug 31, 2010 at 16:55
  • @John: the pricing I've calculated was slightly incorrect. I'm typically experienced with MySQL which should hold all of the data as well as its indexes in RAM, not requiring much I/O work except for updates.
    – gekkz
    Aug 31, 2010 at 16:59

Go RAID10 unless you need the drive space that RAID5 can provide. You'll get better performance in most cases from RAID10.

Like Amala said, make sure the drives and OS support TRIM. Use a strip size that is consistent with the block size of the OS (64k is pretty common for DB servers) and make sure the partition is offset a multiple of this (1MB offset is pretty common).

  • UNlikely he gets beter performance. The RAID controlle in no case will handle that.
    – TomTom
    Aug 31, 2010 at 15:32
  • @TomTom, Considering the DB will be almost read-only, RAID10 will utilize every drive for reads where RAID5 will only ever use N-1; this assumes a larger read operation. For writes, the RAID5 array would likely be faster (assuming aligned partitions, and stripe set size writes), but that's not the case here. The system bus is more likely be to a bottleneck than the SA Card.
    – Chris S
    Aug 31, 2010 at 15:57
  • Assuming the controller will read from all members of a RAID 10. I've read things that seem to suggest that the P400 does not. I can't seem to find any of those things right now, but I also can't find anything that says it for sure does. I think my very first bottleneck will be that the P400 only supports SATA1 (1.5Gbps). So even in RAID 0 and some kind of magic that allows me to fully saturate that, I'll never see more than ~900MB/sec from 6 drives. PCIe x8 should give me the ability to move double that.
    – John
    Aug 31, 2010 at 16:49

This link has a good summary and recommendation for Raid 10: http://www.yonahruss.com/architecture/raid-10-vs-raid-5-performance-cost-space-and-ha.html

Raid 5 is usually not recommended. It has strange characteristics for write applications. I would go for Raid 10. I don't know though about stripe sizes, i am not sure it would matter much.

Make sure your Linux distro supports TRIM for SSD's. Looks like you need kernel: Linux 2.6.33 and Ext4.

  • NOTHING is strange about the RAID 5 write characteristics - this is all well documented.
    – TomTom
    Aug 31, 2010 at 15:35
  • Yes for documentation one can google the raid 5 write penalties. I don't have extensive experience, but We used raid 5 for a database server and I did not like the way the server performed.
    – Amala
    Aug 31, 2010 at 23:56
  • 1
    Here is an interesting benchmark: yonahruss.com/architecture/… The conclusion in shortcut is to go with Raid 10. I am adding this to my original answer above.
    – Amala
    Aug 31, 2010 at 23:57
  • Thanks for the link. Since the workload here is very biased toward read, the disks will be used exclusively for this DB, and the space doesn't really matter, Both R5 and R10 are viable options. My testing seems to suggest that the controller is not very good at RAID 5, and I see ~15% lower performance using it. I think R10 will be my choice.
    – John
    Sep 1, 2010 at 17:27

I do not see the problem as even with R5/R6 your getting an insane amount over 15k SAS. Was thinking of doing a R6 array 22 SSD +2 for hot spare.

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