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Tuning the SPARCserver 490 for Optimal NFS Performance

Varun Mehta
Rajiv Khemani

Server Performance Engineering

Sun Microsystems, Inc.


February 7, 1991

1. Introduction

The SPARCserver 490 is Sun's premiere computer system for resource-intensive file server, database management, multi-user, and compute server applications. Like all of Sun's systems, it is available in a wide variety of configurations. Its system software allows many management and tuning strategies.

However, this extraordinary flexibility can be daunting to the prospective or current owner of a SPARCserver 490. The purpose of this paper is to address the usage of the SPARCserver 490 as a file server, by providing the reader with configurations and strategies for achieving maximum performance at several system sizes. The dominant factor in the level of performance of a file server is its ability to handle Network File System (NFS) operations initiated by its client workstations. It must be able to handle the number of operations initiated by the clients, and should process these requests in a timely fashion. When properly configured and managed, the SPARCserver 490 provides powerful and flexible NFS support for large groups of workstations and PCs.

Section 2 of this paper details five specific strategies for increasing the NFS performance of a SPARCserver 490. The effectiveness of these strategies is shown by extensive test results. Section 3 of this paper describes several recommended configurations of the SPARCserver 490, designed to satisfy different levels of customer needs with optimal price/performance. The smallest configuration described can be evolved smoothly into the largest configuration, which allows the customer to preserve investment in hardware and software as user needs grow.