March 25, 2016

Dolby Labs at MERGE 2016: Filesystem Showdown

MERGE User Conference

We are elbow-deep in a platform switch here at Dolby Labs. As admins, we wondered if our current filesystem could be preserved on the same hardware with a new OS, and if so, would we want to? Would we see the same performance? And if so, what was that performance? Could we do better with a new filesystem?

Rummaging through historic presentations for MERGE, we found that the last time a filesystem shootout was presented was close to ten years ago. A lot has happened in the intervening years, including the drop-off of ReiserFS, the emergence of XFS into the mainstream and the arrival of the ambitious new kid on the block, butter-fs (BTRFS.) A significant number of installations use Windows as a Perforce server platform, too, so let’s throw NTFS into the mix. Do these filesystems perform significantly better or worse than the others? Should NTFS continue to be maligned as a poor performer? Will Rey find out her lineage in Episode VIII? Most of these questions will be answered in this presentation. Most.

We used the same hardware to run these filesystems through the paces with the standard branch submit benchmark, plus some real-world, filesystem-heavy processes of our own.

Join me at MERGE 2016 to see how it all shook out, and perhaps you will be better prepared when building that shiny new Perforce server you’ve always wanted!