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Emulex LP9402-F2 and LP9802-F2
The Emulex LightPulse LP9402 (and LP9802) installs on Windows 2000 Server similar way to the other HBAs tested, either through a driver diskette at initial install, or via driver discovery during retrofit.

The power-on (POST) BIOS options for the Emulex HBA used a menu tree to select options, and we were able to easily maneuver the user interface to make changes.

After Windows 2000 booted and the Emulex drivers are installed, a utility called lputilnt.exe is used to view the internals of the board from Windows 2000. There's even a place within the utility to change Windows Registry values--temporarily or permanently--to optimize the performance of the drive. Indeed, Emulex suggested a few registry entries that might help performance, and these entries certainly helped in small I/O, but are not reflected in our test results.

Emulex initially sent us a single-channel HBA, their LP9802-F2. They felt confident that the board was faster than their older, dual-channel 2Gb/s HBA, and they were right--it was speedier in overall IO output than the older LP9402 in our tests. We've included the board as an example of how next generation 2Gb/s FC boards--with faster CPUs and better multithreading--perform.

The final results
Each of the boards was flexible, but the JNI HBA was the overall winner in our impressions and scoring

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(see "How fast is fast," this page).

Our performance tests consisted of using Intel's Iometer, using two test sequences representing high-file I/O activity of small loads, and secondly, a high-file I/O activity of very high loads. We've found that Iometer can be tweaked to heighten response, but subjected each HBA to the same workload on the same system using freshly reformatted drives targeted in our JMR JBOD array without tweaks.

The first workload is a simulation of typical file server responses, with a 67% read, 33% write of small I/O (4K, 64K and 256K chunks). The second load represents fat I/O loads of 90% reads, and 10% writes of large I/Os (1MB, 2MB and 16MB chunks).

In terms of speed, Emulex's new single channel HBA performed admirably, and faster than Emulex's dual-channel adapter. However, JNI's HBA was the dual-port and overall speed champion.

We also tested the impact of using PCI adapters in the test platform's PCI bus. Results for each adapter was halved or worse by the introduction of a single PCI network card into the bus. The effect was most pronounced with the Emulex LP9802-F2, but the performance reduction was nearly the same in terms of percentage decline from normal--69%--across the HBAs tested.

Therefore, we strongly recommend, therefore, you use either motherboard-based network adapters-or other PCI adapters for that matter-or to uniformly deploy only PCI-X HBAs into a server connected to a SAN if optimal performance is desired.

Test configuration
The base test platform was a Compaq DL580-G2 server, running four 1.6GHz Xeon CPUs, connected by the HBA under test, to a JMR Flora drive array using two controllers. Inside the JMR were eight 15,000 rpm, 36GB, Seagate Cheetah 336752FC drives. The Iometer tests were performed utilizing the dual-JBOD controllers inside the JMR drive array with four targets per HBA channel.

We used Windows 2000 Advanced Server (SP3 with recommended patches to November 11, 2002). The server was configured without most services enabled, such as the Active Directory, IIS and Message Queueing to normalize quiescent CPU characteristics and memory usage. Drives were reformatted between

Iometer tests.
We used Intel's Iometer 2001 benchmark Windows version application in its default file server mode to gain performance results. We also used a Perl script to write and time file I/O to generate sanity checks under Windows 2000 Advanced Server to get an alternative validation to our results. All test sequences were repeated up to five times to achieve normalization within 5%.

This was first published in December 2002

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