VMWare on SSD ?

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by mbower71, Sep 11, 2010.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2010
    #1
    Hi guys -

    Hopefully this post isn't a duplicate of something that's already been discussed. I've read through (I think) all of the SSD posts and have found them to be very informative. I'm getting ready to possibly make the jump to SSD in my Mac Pro but am concerned about performance / durability on VMWare images.

    I'm planning on using the SSD for only the OS, Lightroom library, and 1 VMWare image which is my primary work environment. The VM is Win 7 x64 with SQL Server and Visual Studio (I'm a windows software developer. Gotta pay the bills). The SQL Server is not a high volume server, it's just used for development, so not a ton of IO, but some during the day when I'm working.

    But, since OSX will see the whole VM image as one large file with frequent changes to the contents of the file, will that be better for performance / durability, or worse? I don't mind re-formatting the drive once in a while to regain performance but I'm hesitant to get into a situation where I have to do it weekly, or even monthly.

    Any thoughts from someone with this experience would be great.

    And, as one final question - the price of the 200-250G drives is similar to getting 2 drives of half the size. Better to use software RAID 0 two small
    ones together rather than one larger one? I'm putting this into a 2009 Pro with 8 x 2.26, 12G mem if that matters.

    Thanks a bunch.
     
  2. macrumors 6502

    jedijoe

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2005
    Location:
    Fort Collins
    #2
    I ran VMWare Win7 x64 image on a Intel 160GB G2 SSD for over a year on my Macbook Pro. Now that I have a new Mac Pro, I put the images on the HDDs simply because I don't use them that often (mainly checking website rendering in IE).

    But windows was constantly performing updates, norton is updating and scanning, etc, etc, even if all I do is open IE once a month to make sure my website changes don't blow up on internet exploder. I never noticed any performance degradation, but as far as wear or durability is concerned, not sure, only had that setup for year and now I moved on to something different.

    I would think though that a database load would be one of the more wearing loads on an SSD, but if its only for development, it probably isn't an issue. In fact, it probably isn't an issue for 90% of the setups out there. Maybe someone with real-world SSD + database experience can chime in...
     
  3. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2008
    #3
    If you want to use SSD for a VM, use a separate drive and assign the entire drive to the VM (not as a file based drive but the actual drive). I would be worried (like you are) about the frequent writes killing the drive when using a file based VM drive.
     
  4. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2010
    Location:
    FL, USA
    #4
  5. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2010
    #5
    Thanks for the info - I really appreciate it. At this point I'm leaning toward a 3 or 4 drive RAID 0 of HDDs, maybe Caviar Blacks. It looks like I can get excellent performance this way at a decent price without the risk of degrading the SSDs with database writes. The MacPerformanceGuide link really helped (although the SSD reviews seemed like a commercial for the OWC drives). The HDD reviews were a little more neutral.

    Thanks again - I'll post results in a few days.
     
  6. macrumors 6502

    jedijoe

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2005
    Location:
    Fort Collins
    #6
    barefeats.com and macperformanceguide.com are nothing more than GIGANTIC commercials... Of course, you got to pay the bills, but you can be a little more subtle for sure.
     
  7. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2010
    #7
    Seagate has recently released a hybrid 7200 rpm hard drive, with built in 4GB SSD drive. I was watching a video of it, and it was way faster than the 10000 rpm drives, but still slightly slower than the SSD in reading. You might check them out.

     
  8. macrumors 6502

    jedijoe

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2005
    Location:
    Fort Collins
    #8
    The problem with the Hybrid drives is the horrible random access times, which is what really sets SSDs apart from HDD for every day use. The Hybrids only use the NAND flash for read-only cache... So if you have some workload smaller than 4GB, then once the SSD cache is full, performance will be higher than HDDs, but it most cases of random access, it won't be in the cache (hence the random-ness) and you have to deal with HDD read performance.

    From http://www.anandtech.com/show/3734/seagates-momentus-xt-review-finally-a-good-hybrid-hdd/3

    "Random read/write performance is abysmal. You can't really make out the numbers here but that's 0.7MB/s for reads and 0.3MB/s for writes compared to 40MB/s+ for the SSDs. It's the poor random access performance that ultimately prevents the Momentus XT from feeling like an SSD most of the time."

    If had to go the 4xHDD RAID-0 route, and I didn't need 8TB of space, I would definitely op for 4 600GB VelociRaptors. I have 2x 36GB and 2x 74GB VelociRaptors from 4+ years ago and to this day they still run like a champ, all S.M.A.R.T. statuses report good health, they are really, really quality drives. (and no where near the price of enterprise SAS drives)

    In fact, I used to run the 2x74GB VelociRaptors in my old PowerMac G5 (dual-core 2.3GHz) in Apple Software RAID (RAID-0), now they are running smooth in my Ubuntu Linux box
     
  9. macrumors 68040

    Pressure

    Joined:
    May 30, 2006
    Location:
    Denmark
    #9
    My setup is two partitions on my Intel Solid State Disk.

    One for Mac OS X and one for Windows 7 (64-bit Ultimate) via bootcamp.

    I then simply initiate the bootcamp partition from VMware Fusion and it works great.
     
  10. macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2007
    #10
    Thats pointless. Why go through all that hassle? Just stick it in the SSD and be done with it. If your gonna spend money for performance, the Database sitting on the SSD makes sense.

    Buying an SSD so you can boot 10 seconds faster and buying a bunch of caviar blacks to run in raid 0 is not gonna give you the same boost.

    Go SSD for your database.
     
  11. macrumors 6502

    jedijoe

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2005
    Location:
    Fort Collins
    #11
    Agreed. You should just go SSD. If you can't get over the 'wear' factor, go with the OWC Mercury Extreme Pro RE (RAID Edition), it has 5-year warranty and 28% over provisioning for RAID and/or enterprise workloads. If you don't care about the 28%, the OCZ Vertex 2 (2nd generation) is basically the same as the non-RE OWC drive at a cheaper price (and not a 5-year warranty either)
     
  12. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    Location:
    Southampton, UK.
    #12
    The VM is for a very low traffic development MSSQL server? If you allocate the VM enough RAM I doubt you'll notice much difference either way, SQL makes good use of memory cache.
     
  13. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2010
    #13
    Yes, the SQL server is development only - and fairly low volume. While I'm testing/debugging, there's some intense activity, but 90% of the day is probably spent with the sql server in an idle state. I have 6G of mem assigned to the VM and the SQL process is usually taking 2-3 of that (The database isn't much bigger than that - I think 3.5G right now).

    After sleeping on it again, I've reverted back to agreeing that RAIDing some caviar drives is silly and doesn't get me to where I want to be, so the choices are to either go SSD or do nothing. I've read so much that urges against using SSD for SQL that I'm nervous about it, but I also see the point that this is a low volume, non production SQL so that shouldn't cause nearly as much problem.

    Maybe if I got two smaller SSDs, one for boot/apps and Lightroom library, and the other for VMWare/SQL then it wouldn't be nearly the hassle to recondition ONLY the VMWare one in the event that it needs it. Seems like that's just an hour process or so. Not nearly the task as cloning boot drives, etc.

    Thanks also for the idea of using the SSD in Bootcamp configuration and then attaching VMWare to it - I didn't know you could do that - I'll look that up.

    Thanks again for the feedback. I think I'm back on the right track :)

    mb
     
  14. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    Location:
    Southampton, UK.
    #14
    I prefer keeping my test VMs as fully virtual so I can make good use of snapshotting. Being able to reverse changes at the touch of a button is fabulously useful. Also it keeps it portable, you can start out on a mechanical drive and move it to an SSD or whatever later on as simply as dragging and dropping.

    It sounds like your entire DB would fit in the available memory. Performance isn't likely to be much of a problem for you.
     
  15. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2010
    #15
    I don't use snapshots really. I have a 'Base' VM with windows, SQL, VS, VPNs, etc all ready to go. Then every 4-6 weeks when I corrupt windows, I trash my working VM, Copy the base VM and load my source onto it, and I'm up and running again. It's about a 20 minute deal. I love being able to trash corrupt windows installations.

    I'm assuming that the reason for the recommendation to run the VM straight off the SSD is that windows TRIM commands would work in that scenario? Or is it still going through the OSX filesystem at that point? Admittedly I don't know much about alternate bootcamp/VMWare configurations.
     
  16. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2009
    Location:
    Southampton, UK.
    #16
    I'm afraid I don't know the answer to that. I suspect it probably wouldn't work unless you are natively booted as the hypervisor is making system calls through OSX.
     
  17. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 11, 2010
    #17
    Thanks to everyone for leading me in the right direction. I got two Intel 80s and love them. This makes a HUGE difference - has to be seen to be believed. Thanks again.

    mb
     

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