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SuperCache

Enhanced power for Windows Server 2000 and 2003

SuperCache fully supports caching of the system partition and the partition containing the page file. SuperSpeed 2000 is now compatible with defragmentation software. SuperSpeed 2000 is now fully compatible with Symantec's Speed Disk, Raxco's Perfect Disk, and Executive Software's Diskeeper software. With this release, you can now defragment an active SuperSpeed 2000 partition with any of the above defragmentation tools.



Product Features

SuperCache for Windows NT/2000 is a software device driver that enhances disk performance by between 500 and 2000 percent. A SuperCache device is available as a network mountable device. Each node in the network can have it's own SuperCached device, or it can be shared over the network from a server to all other systems.

SuperCache currently has two modes of operation:

Write through data protection - data is written through to the Windows NT/2000 lazy write mechanism synchronously when written to cache.

Write back (lazy write mode) - faster than write through, but should be used with an uninterruptable power supply. Data is written into a proprietary cache and later written to the Windows NT/2000 lazy write mechanism.

SuperCache can use 25 to 75 percent of physical memory as a cache for a single disk partition. Windows NT versions 3.51/4.0 and 2000 are supported. It is recommended that at least 24 MB of main memory for minimal use of SuperCache. SuperCache automatically allocates and deallocates memory from it's cache depending on system usage. A maximum of 2.0 GB can be used as a cache. The cache will automatically grow and contract based on user activity and memory requirements for other applications. Both FAT and NTFS file systems are supported.

Using the BackOffice Magazine benchmark software on an Alpha 21164 300 MHz uniprocessor system, native Windows NT caching showed throughput of 3.8 MB per second, while the same disk cached with SuperCache-NT in lazy write (write-back) mode showed a transfer rate of 70 MB per second. Results on your system may vary.

SuperCache dynamically caches any disk partition. The system manager selects which partition is to be cached using the setup tool ScConfig.exe. The partition may be either NTFS or FAT.

During setup, the system manager selects either write through mode or lazy write mode. When the system is re-booted SuperCache is automatically started on the selected partition and immediately allocates 25 percent of the physical memory in user space to the cache. The cache will grow on demand. SuperCache has a built-in mechanism for automatically returning memory to the rest of Windows NT/2000 when the operating system requires it for other uses. This operation is automatic and transparent to the rest of the system.

In Write Through Data Protection Mode, SuperCache writes data synchronously to the Windows lazy write mechanism. If a power failure or system failure were to occur in this mode of operation, data would be protected from loss just as it would be without SuperCache being loaded.

In Lazy Write (or Write Back) Data Protection Mode, SuperCache uses a proprietary write caching mechanism to enhance performance even further. Lazy write mode will dramatically improve the performance of write intensive applications. EEC Systems, Inc. recommends the use of an uninterruptable power supply in this mode. If a power failure or system failure occurs while using lazy write mode, the data which has not been flushed to the backing partition will be lost. Use of an uninterruptable power supply will greatly reduce the likelihood of data loss, since SuperCache automatically performs a write flush once a second in the background.

SuperCache has a built-in adaptive read-ahead mechanism. This is useful if sequential file accesses occur. For advanced users, tuning commands are also available to obtain the very best performance from SuperCache. These include adjusting the size of disk transfers which are to be cached, and adjusting the the flush rate for the lazy write mechanism. For most users, however, SuperCache can be used just as it's delivered.

Operation

Once installed, SuperCache is completely transparent to all user and system applications. The only difference users will notice is the increased speed of their applications. No further action by the system manager is required to obtain Super Performance automatically.


Product Benefits

SuperCache for Windows NT/2000 is designed to improve the disk I/O performance of a system by using free physical memory as a disk cache. Whenever the system reads an area of data or code more than once, the data is returned to the requester at fast memory bus speed. The cache saves most of the latencies caused by mechanical actions, controller overhead, I/O bus overhead and low level drivers associated with disk access. The effective response times for users or batch jobs on the system can be improved by a factor of over 25 times, depending on the power and number of CPUs in the system, and the amount of free memory available for the cache. SuperCache is a multi-threaded device driver that enhances hard disk drive performance. No changes are made to the Windows NT/2000 operating system kernel.

All current releases of standard disk device driver software are supported. Software shadowing, striping and software RAID are not supported at this time. In order to make use of SuperCache at least 32MB of main memory is required. We recommend that customers add as much memory as possible to their systems.

Windows NT currently supports a maximum of 4GB of memory. SuperCache- NT can use up 1.4GB for caching. Use of memory beyond the current limit is planned in a future release. Please contact us for further details.



White Papers, Documents and Other Files



Product Requirements

OS Platform Supported
Windows 2000 Server
Windows 2000 Professional
Windows NT4 Server (SP3 or higher)
Windows NT4 Workstation (SP3 or higher)
Windows NT3.51
Terminal Server Edition
SQL Server
Exchange
MS Cluster Server

Minimum Hardware Required
CPU Pentium 166
RAM 64
HD (Install) 4MB
HD (Operating) 64MB

Additional Requirement Notes
SMP configurations are supported by multi-threaded code in the device driver.
Supports both NTFS and FAT



FAQs

Q: What are some guidelines for using SuperCache for Windows NT/2000?
A: SuperCache will take 25 percent of the total physical memory at boot time, and from then on automatically allocate or deallocate memory, based on the needs of the system. It takes 0.4 percent of the size of the partition you choose to cache to map the disk into memory. That is 4 Mb for every 1 GB of storage. This does not include the memory that will be used to cache the data.

For caching to be successful, you have to have available CPU cycles and memory to store the cached data. If you have both of these, then the amount of improvement you will see depends upon how I/O intensive your application is, and how frequently the same data is reread.

An average rule of thumb for calculating memory needs is 48 Mb of total system memory for the first 1 GB of storage you wish to cache, and 16 to 48 Mb for each additional GB of storage in the partition you wish to cache. Usually more memory is always better. (Of course, there are some applications that have small hot files that are reread so frequently that they can see tremendous gains with less memory than this rule of thumb, but this is not the norm.) Currently there is a limit to the memory the cache can use. The upper limit is 1.4GB on Intel systems. Our goal is to have an unlimited cache size available within the next 3 to 12 months.

Example
Partition Size Total System Memory

1 GB 48 MB
2 GB 64-96 MB
3 GB 80-192 MB

It is always advisable when you install any software to create an updated emergency repair disk just prior to installation. Also, using a caching product that increases performance can stress the system and bring out problems with hardware or software that were not seen before. Before loading SuperCache, we recommend you do a scandisk or checkdisk to be sure your underlying media is good.

It is our experience that the only time people have need to use the emergency repair disk is when they did not follow the recommendations for memory requirements, or they used the product with conflicting software (See release notes). Since we cannot have tested every environment, it is possible (but not very likely, given the number of sites running the products) for us to encounter unknown bugs.

 


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