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Anyone else getting amazing speed with Windows 7?

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mojo

New Around Here
Hi guys. This is my first post but I've been a long time reader of the site and a casual forum lurker. A couple months ago I decided to try out Windows 7 so I installed the RC (build 7100). One of the things I was blown away by was the amazing speed it gave me on network file transfers. I consistently get speeds over 100 MB/s. I get these speeds with nearly every network file transfer I do, every day. My hardware is nothing special by today's standards. My desktop machine running windows 7 has an AMD Phenom 9500 quad core running at 2.2 Ghz, 4 GB of DDR2-800 memory, and an Asus M2N-SLI deluxe motherboard. While the motherboard was pretty nice when I got it, it's 3 years old and was one of the earliest socket AM2 motherboards. I just use the onboard nVidia gigabit nic. My fileserver is running linux, slackware 12.2. My very old hardware in that box finally died around christmas, so it has fairly new but modest hardware and a fresh slackware install as of around 6 months ago. The hardware consists of an AMD 2.6 Ghz dual core CPU (5050e or something like that), 2 GB of DDR2-800 memory, a cheap Gigabyte motherboard, and a ton of large harddrives. The drive space is all managed by LVM, which is the best thing since sliced bread, but that's a topic for another day. Again, I'm just using the onboard gigabit nic. I am running 5k jumbo frames, but running normal size frames doesn't really seem to adversely affect the speed.

I've tested both read and write and I can get the >100MB/s speed either way. When I pull a file off the linux box there's a fairly good chance that the physical drive it's on is old, slow, and full, so sometimes the speed is slower going that way, but still around 60 MB/s or more. On a file I know is fairly recent and thus likely to be on one of the newer physical drives in the server, read speed is just as fast as write. In these tests my windows 7 box is always the client, meaning that from this box i connect to \\linuxbox\share rather than connecting from the linux box gui to \\win7box\share. I have never done the second method because that is not something I would ever do in my day to day work-flow.

As for how I'm measuring these speeds, I look at both the speed reported by the windows file copy/move dialog, and the speed reported by a network meter desktop gadget. I've confirmed the speeds with IOzone as well. However, althought the network meter reports the same ~100 MB/s speed as with real-life transfers, the results IOzone reports are obviously affected by RAM caching since they are around 500 MB/s for all but the largest files.

I can only get these speeds between my windows 7 box and my linux box. Connecting to any of my other windows XP boxes tops out around 40 MB/s, as is normal according to my experience from the last several years. Before I switched to windows 7 I was running XP and I could consistently get 65 MB/s transfers between my main windows box and my linux box. That speed is only since I upgraded the hardware on my linux box. Before that, when I was running hardware several years old and slackware 10.2 on the linux box, I could only get speeds of around 45-50 MB/s.

My points for discussion are:
1) this is awesome
2) Why does it only get the great speeds between windows 7 and the linux box? I'm sure the speed improvements over XP on the same hardware have to do with SMB2 and the larger record sizes that vista and windows 7 use vs. XP, but the other side of my file transfer is linux/samba, not windows 7/SMB2. As far as I know, SMB2 support is experimental in samba 4, which is not release stable yet. I'm running samba 3.2.5, which is just what happened to be included with slackware 12.2. As far as google has told me, there is nothing in my version of samba to support SMB2, and I have done absolutely no performance tweaking in samba.

Can anyone shed some light on this or add their experiences?
 
I believe that Win7 has similar file copy optimizations to those in Vista. Sounds like the optimizations are working just fine with your Linux box.
 
Definitely great speeds. Interesting you are using LVM. Haven't even heard of it until now.

Now your question about why you are only seeing the high speeds with Win 7/Linux vs Win 7/Win XP might have to do with the cache settings on your XP machine. I recommend using a "large system cache" when using XP as a the server. Take a look here for more information on how to set this. Try that and see if it helps your file copy speeds with XP as the server.

In my opinion with Vista SP1 or Win 7 as the client your should see better file copy performance with just about any OS on the server compared to XP. I believe this mainly has to do with the file copy engine being redesigned in the later OSes to be multithreaded and keep multiple I/O's in flight at one time. Whereas the XP file copy engine is single threaded and generally only has one I/O in flight at a time.

00Roush
 
Using large system cache on the other XP boxes might improve things dramatically. I've had that setting enabled for a couple years on my main box before installing windows 7, but never really tweaked my other boxes to that extent. I'll try it sometime when I'm bored and curious. As far as real life goes, high speed between my main (windows 7) box and my linux box is the only thing that matters. I move large files from my main box to the linux file server, and the other boxes only stream them for playback from the file server. Because of this usage pattern, speed between anything other than my main box and linux box is purely academic, but my curiousity finally got the best of me and I decided to ask here.

About LVM. If you frequently buy one-off drives because they happen to have the best $/GB ratio or you find a great sale it's definitely the way to go. Before I discovered LVM I maintained a symlink farm that grew to be ever more complex and difficult to manage. I do not use any sort of RAID on the fileserver because all the data is media files which are easy to replace and not mission-critical in the slightest. If you do want to combine the protection of RAID and the flexibility of LVM, similar to how a drobo works but with much better performance, check this out, which was posted in another thread in this same forum section. The concept is that each "drive" that LVM pools together and manages for you is actually a RAID 1 set, so a single drive failure is not catastrophic. The upside is that it lets you mix and match heterogeneous drives that you may purchase at different times. The downside is that every drive must have a twin and you can only use half of the space you buy. It's not quite a perfect solution but I thought it was very ingenious.
 
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