Thursday 10 April 2008

SR1530HSH + Server 2008 and Intel ProSet - Receive Side Scaling and Teaming

Now that we have Windows Web Server 2008 x64 (trial software download) configured on an Intel SR1530HSH 1U chassis with 4GB of RAM and a Xeon X3220 Quad Core CPU.

This particular box will be configured with the SharePoint V3 role for Internet facing site collections.

Before we went to add the unit to the SBS domain, we wanted to team up the adapters in Fault Tolerance mode. Version 12.4 of the Intel ProSet (link to download via the PRO/1000 PT support page) drivers support teaming on both the x86 and x64 versions of Server 2008.

This is the message we received once we ran through the team setup process:

New Team Wizard

One or more adapters in the team do not support Receive-Side Scaling. Receive-Side Scaling will be disabled for the team.
Receive-Side Scaling (RSS) gives us the ability to utilize the multiple cores on this particular server to process network packets that are received. Given that this is a Web server, having that ability to streamline network performance is more important than initally having the fault tolerant team.

So, we will leave teaming between the on board NICs for now, and proceed to install an add-in dual port Gigabit PCI-E NIC that will support RSS while teamed.

You may remember RSS because of the issues the Windows Server 2003 Service Pack 2 introduced on our SBS boxes when RSS went live after applying the Service Pack (previous blog post).

From Intel's support site: Intel® Server Adapters - Receive Side Scaling on Intel® Network Adapters
When Receive Side Scaling (RSS) is enabled, all of the receive data processing for a particular TCP connection is shared across multiple processors or processor cores. Without RSS all of the processing is performed by a single processor, resulting in inefficient system cache utilization.

  • This setting has no effect if your system has only one processing unit.
  • RSS must be enabled for Intel® I/O Acceleration Technology to function.
  • To enable RSS on Microsoft* Windows Server* 2003, you must install Microsoft's Scalable Networking Pack. The Scalable Networking Pack is part of Windows Server 2003 SP2. It is not included in SP1 and requires a separate download. See † for more information.

RSS Configuration
RSS is enabled on the Advanced tab of the adapter property sheet. If your adapter does not support RSS, or if your operating system does not support it, the RSS setting will not be displayed.

  • If RSS is not enabled for all adapters in a team, RSS will automatically be disabled for the team.
  • If an adapter that does not support RSS is added to a team, RSS will automatically be disabled for the team.
    If a non-Intel adapter is added to a team, RSS will automatically be disabled for the team.
  • Non-Intel adapters with RSS enabled cannot be added to a team
Further Intel NIC support links: On the SharePoint note: We have had a number of adventures into building some custom SharePoint V3 infrastructure lately.

One of them was to setup SharePoint V3 on SBS in a side-by-side install but using the Front-End Farm setup instead. We need SharePoint to be connected to the SQL 2005 back end on SBS instead of the SQL Express installed via the Stand-Alone mode. All in all, this setup was relatively painless. This configuration gives us the scalability needed by a full SQL back end for the SharePoint Sites. It also gives us a quick step into a dedicated farm setup.

We will try and get some SharePoint focused posts out to you as time permits.

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

*All Mac on SBS posts are posted on our in-house iMac via the Safari Web browser.


Anonymous said...


Very interesting article, out of curiosity what raid controller did you use in the 1u box?

Philip Elder Cluster MVP said...

Out of the box we are running with the on board RAID controller with a RAID 1 mirror set.

The plan is to implement a dedicated RAID controller such as the SRCSASRB series with a hot spare available down the road.