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Server Shootout, Description of Tests and Results

Presented at Seybold Seminars, September 3, 1998

Windows NT Server vs. UNIX vs. AppleShare IP


On September 3, Walter Schild lead a session at Seybold Seminars in San Francisco entitled "Server Shootout." He presented the results of AFP file copying tests between a Mac and three different servers: Windows NT 4.0 Services for Macintosh, Service Pack 3, Xinet AFP server on UNIX, and AppleShare IP 5.0 and 6.0.

(These tests were not conducted in collaboration with MacWindows. We are merely reporting on the presentation of the results at the Seybold Seminar.)

The authors said the tests were not designed to be all-encompassing. That is, the testers don't claim that these results will be the same in all setups and situations. For instance, they did not vary block sizes, and did not recreate the exact same network traffic for each test.

The Test Setup

There were two file transfer tested: a single 32 MB file and a 12 MB folder containing multiple small files. The Mac client was running Mac OS 8.1. The file transfer was initiated from the client Mac's Finder.

The network was 100BaseT (Fast Ethernet) with switched hubs.

The server software:

Windows NT 4.0 Services for Macintosh, Service Pack 3

SGI IRI 6.4 (UNIX), Xinet AFP server

Mac OS 8.1, AppleShare IP 5.0 and 6.0

The testing team

Walter Schild of Genex Interactive

Peter Brass of NewSub Services

Randy Wright of Anderson Lithograph

The server hardware

Dell PowerEdge

SGI Origin 2000

Apple Workgroup Server 9650

Server processor

400 MHz Pentium II (100 MHz Bus)

Two R-10,000

350 MHZ 604e

Server RAM

256 MB

512 GB

128 MB

Server Storage

40 GB RAID 3

400 GB RAID 5

18 GB RAID STRIPE

Number of users logged on

20

32

27

The Results

Schild's testing team found Windows NT 4 SFM to be significantly slower than both AppleShare IP and the Xinet on UNIX solution. NT took 60 percent longer than AppleShare IP 6 to write a 30 MB file over the network. NT took almost twice as long than AppleShare IP 6 to write a 12 MB folder.

AppleShare IP was just slightly slower than the UNIX server, even though the SGI server had two processors, each of which was faster than the 604e in the Mac. AppleShare was slightly faster in one test, writing a 12 MB folder. The team also found AppleShare IP 6.0 to be about 10-to-15 percent faster than AppleShare IP 5.0.

The team also found that AFP (AppleShare) over IP was up to 3 times faster than AFP over AppleTalk on the SGI server.

Finally the team compared 10BaseT with 100BaseT. Fast Ethernet moved files from twice as fast as 10 Mbit Ethernet (to read the 12 MB folder) to over 6 times faster (to write the 30 MB file).

A graph of the results should be posted at the Seybold Seminars' web site some time after Monday, September 7.


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Copyright 1998 John Rizzo. All rights reserved.