NFS Tricks and Benchmarking Traps

Daniel Ellard, Margo Seltzer

Abstract

We describe two modifications to the FreeBSD 4.6 NFS server to increase read throughput by improving the read-ahead heuristic to deal with reordered requests and stride access patterns. We show that for some stride access patterns, our new heuristics improve end-to-end NFS throughput by nearly a factor of two. We also show that benchmarking and experimenting with changes to an NFS server can be a subtle and challenging task, and that it is often difficult to distinguish the impact of a new algorithm or heuristic from the quirks of the underlying software and hardware with which they interact. We discuss these quirks and their potential effects.
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