October 2006 Archives
October 11, 2006

Roger Waters - The Dark Side of the Moon


Roger Waters of Pink Floyd was in concert last night at Shoreline Amphitheater, with The Dark Side of the Moon. Great music and a great show!

There were quite a few very politically charged songs. At some point an inflatable pig was brought on the scene and walked around the amphitheater. You could read Impeach Bush Now on its bottom. Tony Blair was not forgotten either. I wouldn't have expected anything less from Roger Waters!

Posted by ovidiu at 09:41 PM | Comments (4) |
October 05, 2006

Google Code Search


You can now search source code with Google's new tool, Google Code Search. You can use regexp, choose programming language, phrase search and many more. Cool stuff!

Posted by ovidiu at 12:24 AM | Comments (1) |
October 04, 2006

MacPro disk access performance


I was curious about the hard disk access performance on MacPro. I tested this on a dual core 3GHz machine with 4GB RAM. The machine has the 160GB hard disk that shipped with the computer, and two additional 750GB Seagate perpendicular drives. The Seagate drives are configured as RAID 1 (mirroring) using MacOS X's built-in software RAID. I also used a CoolGear external RAID enclosure (hardware RAID), using two 400GB drives configured as RAID 1, and connected via USB2 to the MacPro. The external enclosure also uses eSATA, but the computer doesn't have an internal PCI SATA extension card to use it with.

I ran a very basic test, writing and reading a 1GB file. The file is written by reading from /dev/zero. The reading is by doing a cat to /dev/null. The commands look like this:

$ time dd if=/dev/zero of=<file> bs=1024 count=1048576

$ time cat <file> >/dev/null

Here are the numbers:

DriveRead time (seconds)Write time (seconds)
internal 160GB14.9014.64
internal, software RAID, 750GB18.0521.94
external, hardware RAID, USB2, 400GB49.4357.30

I guess there's no surprise how slow the USB2 drive is compared to the internal drive, although an almost 400% increase in read and write times are fairly extreme. The biggest surprise was the 50% performance drop of the software RAID compared to the raw disk access. Albeit the comparison is not quite fair as the drives are not identical. I wouldn't be surprised however to see the same number for a similarly configured software RAID.

Perhaps the situation would improve with either Firewire 800 or eSATA-connected drives, but I doubt it would change the number significantly.

My take on this is that external RAID systems should only be used for backups, not regular access. If possible, don't use software RAID either, instead do regular backups on an external storage device.

Posted by ovidiu at 10:18 PM | Comments (3) |
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