After a quick search on Freshmeat I found nothing. Anybody know of a good utility?
I normally use time (dd if=/dev/zero of=newfile ...) to test write speed and hdparm -t to test read speed.
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Take a look at bonnie and bonnie++, they will give you pretty much information.
You can also take a look at IOZone. Its a command line tool that runs under many operating systems and should be available to install with your standard package tools.
From their website:
The benchmark tests file I/O performance for the following operations: Read, write, re-read, re-write, read backwards, read strided, fread, fwrite, random read, pread ,mmap, aio_read, aio_write
bonnie++ are good instruments if you need, simple, specific, synthetic measurements. They're good, for example, to establish a baseline performance of a "naked" disk (mb/sec and latency) before adding layers over it (raid, lvm, drbd, iSCSI, etc...) and then check if you lost some performance somewhere. I wouldn't use hdparm for that.
IOZone, Iometer are better at simulating actual workloads. There are also some more specific tools, like Postal to simulate email workloads and a number of SQL-related tools to benchmark databases (these are usually db-specific benchmark tools and will measure the whole performance of the system, that includes a number of factors other than disks alone)