Everything you want and need to know about Oracle SPARC systems performance

SPARC T4-2 Server Beats Intel (Westmere AES-NI) on ZFS Encryption Tests

Brian Whitney
Principal Software Engineer

Oracle continues to lead in enterprise security. Oracle's SPARC T4 processors combined with Oracle's Solaris ZFS file system demonstrate faster file system encryption than equivalent systems based on the Intel Xeon Processor 5600 Sequence chips which use AES-NI security instructions.

Encryption is the process where data is encoded for privacy and a key is needed by the data owner to access the encoded data. The benefits of using ZFS encryption are:

  • The SPARC T4 processor is 3.5x to 5.2x faster than the Intel Xeon Processor X5670 that has the AES-NI security instructions in creating encrypted files.

  • ZFS encryption is integrated with the ZFS command set. Like other ZFS operations, encryption operations such as key changes and re-key are performed online.

  • Data is encrypted using AES (Advanced Encryption Standard) with key lengths of 256, 192, and 128 in the CCM and GCM operation modes.

  • The flexibility of encrypting specific file systems is a key feature.

  • ZFS encryption is inheritable to descendent file systems. Key management can be delegated through ZFS delegated administration.

  • ZFS encryption uses the Oracle Solaris Cryptographic Framework which gives it access to SPARC T4 processor and Intel Xeon X5670 processor (Intel AES-NI) hardware acceleration or to optimized software implementations of the encryption algorithms automatically.

Performance Landscape

Below are results running two different ciphers for ZFS encryption. Results are presented for runs without any cipher, labeled clear, and a variety of different key lengths.

Encryption Using AES-CCM Ciphers

MB/sec – 5 File Create* Encryption
Clear AES-256-CCM AES-192-CCM AES-128-CCM
SPARC T4-2 server 3,803 3,167 3,335 3,225
SPARC T3-2 server 2,286 1,554 1,561 1,594
2-Socket 2.93 GHz Xeon X5670 3,325 750 764 773
Speedup T4-2 vs X5670 1.1x 4.2x 4.4x 4.2x
Speedup T4-2 vs T3-2 1.7x 2.0x 2.1x 2.0x

Encryption Using AES-GCM Ciphers

MB/sec – 5 File Create* Encryption
Clear AES-256-GCM AES-192-GCM AES-128-GCM
SPARC T4-2 server 3,618 3,929 3,164 2,613
SPARC T3-2 server 2,278 1,451 1,455 1,449
2-Socket 2.93 GHz Xeon X5670 3,299 749 748 753
Speedup T4-2 vs X5670 1.1x 5.2x 4.2x 3.5x
Speedup T4-2 vs T3-2 1.6x 2.7x 2.2x 1.8x

(*) Maximum Delivered values measured over 5 concurrent "mkfile " operations.

Configuration Summary

Storage Configuration:

Sun Storage 6780 array
16 x 15K RPM drives
Raid 0 pool
Write back cache enable
Controller cache mirroring disabled for maximum bandwidth for test
Eight 8 Gb/sec ports per host

Server Configuration:

SPARC T4-2 server
2 x SPARC T4 2.85 GHz processors
256 GB memory
Oracle Solaris 11

SPARC T3-2 server
2 x SPARC T3 1.6 GHz processors
Oracle Solaris 11 Express 2010.11

Sun Fire X4270 M2 server
2 x Intel Xeon X5670, 2.93 GHz processors
Oracle Solaris 11

Benchmark Description

The benchmark ran the UNIX command "mkfile (1M)". "mkfile" is a simple single threaded program to create a file of a specified size. The script ran 5 "mkfile" operations in the background and observed the peak bandwidth observed during the test.

See Also

Disclosure Statement

Copyright 2011, Oracle and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. Oracle and Java are registered trademarks of Oracle and/or its affiliates. Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners. Results as of December 16, 2011.

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