Benchmarks Of Btrfs RAID On Four Samsung 970 EVO NVMe SSDs
Written by Michael Larabel in Storage on 18 August 2018. Page 1 of 3. 16 Comments

With the MSI MEG X399 CREATION that we received as part of the launch package for the Threadripper 2950X and Threadripper 2990WX it includes the XPANDER-AERO that provides 4-way M.2 NVMe SSD slots on a PCI Express x16 card. The XPANDER-AERO is actively cooled and could be passed off as a small form factor graphics card upon a very cursory examination. With this card I've been running tests on four Samsung 970 EVO NVMe SSDs in RAID to offer stellar Linux I/O performance. Here are some initial benchmarks using Btrfs.

The tests today are of Btrfs RAID with the Linux 4.18 kernel using four Samsung 970 EVO 250GB NVMe solid-state M.2 cards in the MSI XPANDER-AERO with the MEG X399 CREATION motherboard. These Btrfs tests are mostly being published this weekend for reference purposes and to give a shout-out to this nifty PCIe adapter. Tests still ongoing include MD RAID on the same hardware using the EXT4 and XFS file-systems as well as ZFS On Linux if there is sufficient interest. So take these results today as you wish while more testing is still being carried out.

The MSI XPANDER-AERO allows the PCI Express x16 slot to provide four M.2 x4 slots, as is the standard maximum bandwidth for these current generation M.2 SSDs. Given it's using PCI Express, the SATA M.2 SSDs are not supported. This expansion card can accommodate up to the full-length M.2 22110 solid-state drives.

The M.2 expansion card is cooled by an MSI AERO graphics card fan and shroud. Though due to this active cooling, the XPANDER-AERO occupies two expansion slots. Also, this expansion card requires a 6-pin PCI Express power connector.

It's a nifty card for greatly expanding the NVMe M.2 storage capabilities given most motherboards offer just one or two slots onboard.

So far the XPANDER-AERO isn't sold separately but just bundled with the MSI MEG X399 CREATION motherboard, which itself retails for $500 USD.

Linux support using this card isn't an issue given its simplicity and Linux supporting NVM Express itself for more than the past half-decade. In my tests of the XPANDER-AERO loaded with Samsung SSDs, Ubuntu 18.04 LTS and Fedora 28 was off to the races immediately.

For running some reference benchmarks I used the Ryzen Threadripper 2950X + MSI MEG X399 CREATION system to run various Btrfs file-system benchmarks on the Samsung 970 EVO 250GB SSDs contained by the XPANDER-AERO. This included single disk, 2-disk RAID0, 2-disk RAID1, 4-disk RAID0, 4-disk RAID1, 4-disk RAID5, 4-disk RAID6, and 4-disk RAID10 benchmarks. The RAID tests are using the Btrfs native RAID capabilities. Again, more interesting tests are still being carried out looking at other file-systems on this interesting hardware storage array with Linux MD. Ubuntu 18.04 was running on this system with the Linux 4.18.1 kernel, using the default Btrfs mount options, and no I/O scheduler.



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