Checkout for Useful Information on SQL Server Storage Systems

At the recent SQLSaturday #28 in Baton Rouge, LA, I had the opportunity to meet Wes Brown (Blog | Twitter), and attend his session on “Understanding Storage Systems and SQL Server”. I enjoyed his presentation and also discovered that Wes has a blog where he shares his deep knowledge of SQL Server I/O. If you are interested in learning more about SQL Server I/O, his blog offers useful posts, presentations, and some software tools he has written for himself. For example, he has a Disk Drive RAID Configuration Tool that you can use to help give you an idea of RAID performance based on drive characteristics and other factors.

Windows OS Power Saving Feature Directly Affects CPU Performance

While I have always known that the Windows operating system Power Plan options affect a server’s performance, I had not realized how much until SQL Server MVP Glenn Berry (Blog | Twitter) suggested I try out my new Dell T610 test servers under the three available power savings plans:

  • High Performance
  • Balanced
  • Power Saver

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Test Cluster Delivered & Ready to Assemble


I finally received all the components of my SQL Server test cluster (pictured left), which includes:

–One PowerVault MD3000 DAS with two, dual-port controllers, and 15 146GB 15K SAS drives.

–Two identical Dell T610 Towers, each with a single, 6-core CPU (Intel Xeon X5670, 2.93 Ghz, 12M Cache, HT, 1333MHz FSB); 32GB 1333MHz RAM; a PERC H700 RAID controller; two 146GB 15K SAS Drives; one HBA (to connect to the DAS); and dual network connections.

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My Ideal SQL Server Test Box is on the Way

Several weeks ago I wrote a blog post called “What is the Ideal SQL Server Test Box?” At that time I was putting together the specs for a test SQL Server box I hoped to be able to get for my home office. While a laptop is great for giving SQL Server presentations, it’s not the greatest for testing and stressing SQL Server. And while I do have access to some large SQL Server boxes via remote access, I am limited to what I can do on them. So what I really wanted was my own test box that I could reconfigure as needed for testing and benchmarking.

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SQL Server Hardware Checklist

I’m in the process of putting together a SQL Server hardware inventory/audit checklist for an upcoming book project. The purpose of this list is to provide a comprehensive listing of all the important information about the components of a physical server used to run SQL Server. Besides collecting hardware information, it is also designed to collect some configuration information that may be of importance for SQL Server performance and high availability.

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What is the Ideal SQL Server Test Box?

I’m thinking about setting up a SQL Server test box in my home office for doing some extensive, real-world SQL Server performance testing. So far, here is what I am thinking about getting:

–Because I have limited space, the test box will need to be a tower. I will also be limited to one physical test box because of a lack of room (and budget).

–CPU: 2 sockets with a total of at least 8 cores. Haven’t decided on the specific chips yet.

–RAM: At least 36GB. I want to have the ability to set up multiple virtual servers in the test box.

–RAID Controller: Must support RAID 1, 5, & 10, and any mixture of these RAID levels.

–Drives: I am looking at getting 8-16, 15K SAS drives, with a minimum capacity of 450GB each. The number of  drives will depend on what I can fit into my budget, and how many can fit in a tower.

I am still very much in the research stage, so my question to you is, if you could spec out your own SQL Server home test system, and you had $10,000 to spend, what you buy, and why?

PS: If you are a hardware vendor and would be interesting in letting me borrow such a test box from you for the next year or so, I would be very interested in talking with you.  🙂