It has been far too long since I blogged. Work has been keeping me busy 7 days a week but here’s a quick post about a recent challenge.

I have been working on several data migration projects and have been struggling in general with sluggish SQL query performance. Most of the research conducted has suggested the primary bottleneck is disk IO (rather than throughput or CPU speed) so I decided to try and find the fastest "reasonably priced" SSD to give me a boost. I found this list and after research each of the items (for availability and cost) I chose the OCZ Revodrive3 X2 PCI-e SSD.

I ordered the SSD and installed it in one of my spare servers (SuperMicro X8SIL-F, Intel X3470, 16GB Kingston RAM). Despite not being listed on the OCZ compatibly list the SSD was detected during post. Again, despite being listed as only compatible with Windows 7, the SSD was detected in Windows 2008 R2 and after installing the driver and initialising the disk in Server Manager appeared in "My Computer".

Unfortunately after installing SQL Server 2008 R2 and loading a few database up the machine mysteriously restarted and no longer was the drive listed in "My Computer" or device manager. After further reboots the SSD was no longer showing during post (various green and blue LEDs were still lit so it wasn’t completely dead). I tried the card in an old Dell 9150 I had kicking around- nothing. Then a spare HP Microserver N36L- again, nothing.

Fairly convinced now that the SSD had died I called eBuyer up and started the RMA ball rolling along with placing an order for a new card (this was Thursday night and fortunately they were able to guarantee Saturday delivery). I also ordered a motherboard from the compatibility list- ASRock Z68 Extreme4 Gen3, an Intel i7 Quad-Core 2600 3.4GHz Sandy Bridge processor, and 16GB DDR3 RAM along with a no-name case all from Amazon (again, with the guarantee of Saturday delivery).

I put everything together and fired it up:

One of the first things I noticed was the different number of chips present on each of the SSD boards (compare this to the one at the top of the post?). But regardless, the replacement was working and still going strong after 24hrs solid use.

Keeping an eye on various counters in Windows I’ve seen the card reach over 1000MB/sec- impressive! And no longer does the disk seem to be the bottleneck, it now appears to be the CPU- doh! Unfortunately it looks like some queries only utilise a single processor core so the CPU is actually only 12.5% utilised.

That’s all for now! It looks like I was just very unfortunate with the first card but the replacement is blindingly fast and a great price (especially when compared with the competition).