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Promise SANLink2 vs. iMac Pro 10gbe

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Brian Covalt
Promise SANLink2 vs. iMac Pro 10gbe
on Jan 3, 2018 at 9:15:50 pm

For the last couple years I've been using a couple SANLink2 adapters to get 10gbe on my server and client machines (that have thunderbolt, for older machines, using a PCI card to get 10gbe).

I've never been amazed at the speeds I've gotten, but it's still a little better than standard ethernet so I've continued to use the setup.

This week I received a new iMac Pro with native 10gbe and was anxious to see how its network speeds would perform. I connected to the server via AFP (SMB still extremely slow), and got almost twice the speed as what I'd get on my Mac Pro with the SANLink2.

Mac Pro (Late 2013) with SANLink2: 285 MB/SEC WRITE, 270 MB/SEC READ

iMac Pro (2017) with native 10gbe: 497 MB/SEC WRITE, 361 MB/SEC READ

Keep in mind, both client machines above are connecting to the same target location on a Mac Mini Server (Late 2012) that's also using a SANLink2. I imagine if I had another iMac Pro as the server machine, performance would be even better.

My questions:
Is there anything I can do to improve the Mac Pro with SANLink2 speed to get closer in performance to the iMac Pro (configure SanLink utility differently perhaps)?
Would those reading this expect this kind of performance difference between the iMac Pro and SANLink2 ethernet connections?

To help clarify my network setup, I'm attaching a diagram of how everything is connected, including switches and cables.



Thanks for any input!


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Bob Zelin
Re: Promise SANLink2 vs. iMac Pro 10gbe
on Jan 3, 2018 at 10:36:10 pm

replies below -
I've never been amazed at the speeds I've gotten, but it's still a little better than standard ethernet so I've continued to use the setup.

reply - I don't know why. I am guessing that your system is not setup correctly.


This week I received a new iMac Pro with native 10gbe and was anxious to see how its network speeds would perform. I connected to the server via AFP (SMB still extremely slow), and got almost twice the speed as what I'd get on my Mac Pro with the SANLink2.

reply - SMB will remain slow until you go into terminal and disable SMB signing. This is still an "issue" on the new iMac Pro with macOS 10.13.2. Disable SMB signing, and your SMB speeds will be wonderful. Start getting used to not using AFP anymore. Apple is not going to support it soon.



Mac Pro (Late 2013) with SANLink2: 285 MB/SEC WRITE, 270 MB/SEC READ

iMac Pro (2017) with native 10gbe: 497 MB/SEC WRITE, 361 MB/SEC READ


Keep in mind, both client machines above are connecting to the same target location on a Mac Mini Server (Late 2012) that's also using a SANLink2. I imagine if I had another iMac Pro as the server machine, performance would be even better.

REPLY - well, you have a crappy Mac Mini Server with both your SanLink2 tied to the same single x4 lane thunderbolt port that your RAID array is connected to. Of course, you are getting crappy speeds. And you don't have SMB Signing disabled, and I bet you are not using Jumbo frames.
The iMac Pro is using the new Aquantia 170 Chip. In a properly configured system (with an actual server that can read and write at the correct speed) you will see about 900 MB/sec WRITE/READ. For the SanLink2, depending on what computer you are using, you get (typically with Thunderbolt 2 like from a modern iMac or Mac Pro 6,1) about 600 - 800 MB/sec Read/Write. Oddly enough, with the Promise SanLink3, I see consistent results of 350 MB/sec Write and about 1000 MB/sec READ.




My questions:
Is there anything I can do to improve the Mac Pro with SANLink2 speed to get closer in performance to the iMac Pro (configure SanLink utility differently perhaps)?

REPLY - yes. Configure your system correctly. Stop using the Mac Mini as a server, with everything tied to your single x4 lane thunderbolt port.


Would those reading this expect this kind of performance difference between the iMac Pro and SANLink2 ethernet connections?

REPLY - you should be getting better performance. You have not stated what kind of RAID array you are using for your server. I hope it's an 8 drive or greater, if you expect decent results. You can quickly prove this to yourself by turning your Mac Pro 6,1 as your server (forget the Mac Mini) and go 10G from the iMac Pro to the Mac Pro (via the SanLink2) and if it's configured correctly, you will get dramatically faster speeds. If you are using a Pegasus R4, and the Mac Mini, and you don't have SMB signing turned off, well - what do you expect.

Bob Zelin

Bob Zelin
Rescue 1, Inc.
bobzelin@icloud.com


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Brian Covalt
Re: Promise SANLink2 vs. iMac Pro 10gbe
on Jan 3, 2018 at 11:24:12 pm

Hi Bob,

Thanks for your reply. I understand I'll get significantly better speeds with an upgraded server, but I think you got hung up on my Mac Mini Server.
Let's say I'm happy with the speeds I'm getting from my iMac Pro connected to the crappy Mac Mini Server.

I'm not asking how to get overall better speeds, but why is the Mac Pro so much slower than the iMac Pro, connected to the same Mac Mini Server?

For my purposes, the connection speeds I'm getting with the iMac Pro connected to Mac Mini Server are sufficient. I'm wondering why the Mac Pro isn't getting the same speeds with the SANLink2 adapter.

By the way, my RAID is configured 0, using 4x 6TB drives (yes, I know I won't get top performance compared to an Pegasus3 R8 but I don't need it / can't afford it).

Thanks again for taking the time to share your thoughts - I do appreciate it - I know you're the guy to ask!


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Bob Zelin
Re: Promise SANLink2 vs. iMac Pro 10gbe
on Jan 4, 2018 at 1:30:45 pm

Hi Brian -
here is a quick honest answer - I don't know.
Different generation machines respond differently. And different 10G chip sets respond differently. You plug in an ATTO Thunderlink, Akitio thunderbolt to 10G box, Sonnet Twin 10G, and Promise SanLink2, and they are all different. You now try your new iMac Pro and you get fast speeds. But I have seen even faster speeds on other products - for example, on a new iMac Pro going into my beloved QNAP, you get about 900 MB/sec read/write. A Thunderbolt 3 iMac with a SanLink3 will do 350 MB/sec write and 1000 MB/sec+ read - why different than the iMac Pro ? I have no idea. The new iMac Pro is using the Aquantia 10G chip (not the generic Intel X540, X550 that everyone else uses except for Akitio). So why does the same Aquantia 10G chip on a PCIe card (on ASUS PCIe 10G cards) only do 600MB/sec in a PC, when a Sonnet Presto 10GbaseT card with Intel X550 chip does 1100 MB/sec in the same PC ? I don't know - chip specs, driver specs. Lot's of variables. The same Sonnet Presto card in an old Mac Pro will probably only get about 400 MB/sec in a x16 lane slot.

You want "apples to be apples" and "oranges to be oranges". But it's not. I see that with RAID arrays as well. You put in HGST, WD, Toshiba, and Seagate drives in the exact same enclosure and you get different speeds in the same configuration, even though they are all 7200 RPM drives and the same size. So eventually you develop prejudice over which brands you like, and which you don't. There have been recent posts by Nick from Athens in the NAS forum on why he cant get more than 250 MB/sec write speed on this thunderbolt 3 connection to his QNAP Thunderbolt 3 NAS (he gets over 1000 MB/sec write). I told him that I can get 350 MB/sec write and over 1000 with the SanLink3 and 10G. But why does a Sonnet Twin 10G or Promise SanLink2 get 800 MB/sec write on an "old" Thunderbolt 2 computer, when Thunderbolt 3 should be faster (because it's 40Gb/sec) - I have no idea. I am not privy to sit with the engineers of these products and figure out who (Apple, Intel, Aquantia, Sonnet, Promise) has the engineer that has no idea of what he is doing. Don't assume that all these guys have the same qualifications. And don't blame "brand X" when it could be "brand Y". That's what testing is all about - and that's what all these web forums and reviews are all about.

And get rid of that damn Mac Mini.

Bob Zelin

Bob Zelin
Rescue 1, Inc.
bobzelin@icloud.com


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Brian Covalt
Re: Promise SANLink2 vs. iMac Pro 10gbe
on Jan 5, 2018 at 1:58:19 am

Hi Bob,

Thanks for taking the time to explain that all; helpful to get a better picture of all the variables.

After your suggestion to configure SMB properly (as AFP will eventually be phased out), I've disabled SMB signing on both the server and client ends. I then connected via SMB and found that the Mac Pro was now doing better than the iMac Pro! haha. Who woulda guessed.
I've gotten about 540 MB/sec READ and WRITE, which is almost the same speeds I'll get when running the AJA test locally on the server; meaning there's now little-to-no slowdown from the ethernet connection!

I am finding that I'll get dramatically different speeds depending on where I place the target location on the server. Could this be a permissions issue, or do I just need to optimize the RAID storage?

Finally - regarding that damn Mac Mini - I don't disagree.. it's old and should be replaced since it's the primary source that all our client machines are connecting to.
I'm curious what your opinion would be in this case -
I could use the Mac Pro (Late 2013) now as the server, but with its upgraded graphics card (D700) and memory (32GB), it feels like that machine would be better utilized by an artists (we do animation) than for only file sharing.
With that in mind, do you hate the idea of replacing my 2012 Mac Mini with a 2014 Mac Mini that would have Thunderbolt 2 and 16GB of ram? And if you hate the Mini route, what should I be looking for in a server that'll help it perform with file sharing? When I look at the stats in the Server app, the Processor Usage is always below 25% and Memory Usage is never very high either; obviously the graphics card doesn't really matter.

Thanks again for helping!
-Brian


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Bob Zelin
Re: Promise SANLink2 vs. iMac Pro 10gbe
on Jan 5, 2018 at 2:19:16 pm

simple solution -
buy a QNAP. They are cheap, they have 10G ports, they work great.
Bob

Bob Zelin
Rescue 1, Inc.
bobzelin@icloud.com


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Brian Covalt
Re: Promise SANLink2 vs. iMac Pro 10gbe
on Jan 12, 2018 at 2:59:21 am

[Bob Zelin] "buy a QNAP. They are cheap, they have 10G ports, they work great. "

Thanks for pointing me towards QNAP. I had never seen or heard of them (not saying much), but it looks like it could be a great solution.
Now the only thing, which of the many many products would fit me best!

I can narrow down a few things - I'd rather a desktop solution over a rack.
I don't need the best, most awesome speed available, but an improvement over what we're getting now will be wonderful.
Do I need Thunderbolt? I guess I don't understand why you'd get a Thunderbolt option or how that'd be connected (to what?). Seems in my situation at least, getting a 10GbE solution connected to my 10GbE switch would be right.

I know more drives is faster, but again I don't know that I'll take advantage of the FASTEST solution, do I really need a 16 bay (12 HHD + 4 SSD)?

Maybe at this point I should just call QNAP, but if you have a product in mind that you've used and think works well I wouldn't mind the tip!

Thanks,
Brian


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Bob Zelin
Re: Promise SANLink2 vs. iMac Pro 10gbe
on Jan 12, 2018 at 5:44:45 pm

QNAP TS-1685.
I will contact you.

Bob Zelin

Bob Zelin
Rescue 1, Inc.
bobzelin@icloud.com


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