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How useful are storage benchmarks?

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SPC benchmarks
SPC-1: Determines the number of IOPS a storage system supports from an enterprise app perspective. Its workload is representative of transaction-processing systems like databases, enterprise resource planning systems and even mail servers. "We took traces provided by Sun [Microsystems Inc.], HP [Hewlett-Packard] and IBM, which were extracted from actual customer apps, and used them to develop SPC-1," says SPC administrator Walter E. Baker.

SPC-1 benchmarks report on the maximum number of IOPS (SPC-1 IOPS), a price-performance ratio expressed in $/SPC-1 IOPS, the total storage capacity utilized during testing, the data protection level of the tested system, as well as the total price of the system. Additionally, each report includes a diagram that depicts the response time in relation to the number of IO requests per second. Like all SPC benchmarks, SPC-1 comes with a full disclosure report about configuration and test conditions, and sufficient detail to enable a third party to reproduce the configuration and benchmark results.

SPC-2: Encouraged by the success of SPC-1, the SPC released SPC-2 in early 2006. Unlike SPC-1, SPC-2 measures storage performance from a throughput perspective, relevant to apps like video streaming, scientific computing and data mining. More specifically, SPC-2 consists of three distinct workloads--one for large file processing,

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one for large database queries and another for video on-demand--designed to demonstrate the performance of storage subsystems that require the large-scale, sequential movement of data. Those applications are characterized predominately by large IOs organized into one or more concurrent sequential patterns.

SPC-2 reports an overall benchmark result that aggregates the test results of the three workflows, and gives performance numbers for each of the three workloads. The reported data includes throughput expressed in megabytes per second (SPC-2 MB/sec), a price-performance ratio in $/MB/sec, the total storage capacity utilized during testing, the data protection level of the tested system and the total price of the system. According to Baker, SPC-2 will be available for purchase to non-SPC members later in the year. Unlike SPC-1, SPC-2 will be available in locked and nonlocked versions. The nonlocked version will enable customers to change workload parameters.

This was first published in October 2007

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