HELIOS UB+ file server offers record performance (600MB/s)

Sustained performance

1x 1 Gigabit

1x 10 Gigabit

2x 10 Gigabit

2x 10 Gigabit / 3x 1 Gigabit

LanTest results (click on thumbnail)

After using 1 Gigabit Ethernet for almost a decade, the time is right to investigate server solutions utilizing 10 Gigabit network servers. 10 Gigabit Ethernet for Mac and Windows clients will go mainstream in the future. To keep up with 10 Gigabit networks the server needs to provide sufficient disk I/O, which cannot be achieved by using traditional Fibre Channel or SCSI storage systems.
To avoid these limitations, we have chosen the Sun X4500 x64 based server (code name Thumper), which offers about 2 GB disk I/O per second using 48x 1 TB disks at a cost of less than 1 € (Euro) per Gigabyte for the complete server. Finally, our testing was focused on measuring the end-to-end performance with HELIOS LanTest 4.5.0. File services for Mac, Windows, and Web users are provided by the HELIOS UB+ Server Solutions Suite.
The results show that the HELIOS UB+ server solutions, in combination with the tested network and server, offer unparalleled performance that nobody has seen before. The total solution costs a fraction of competing file server storage solutions, which cannot offer this end-to-end performance.

Who would benefit from 10 Gigabit networks?

Customers working with large files on the server

  • Customers transferring video files to / from the server
  • Larger servers with many users connected
  • Multi server sites, all servers could be interconnected via 10 Gigabit
  • Customers using proprietary local SAN solutions can switch to standard file server TCP/IP protocols using AFP for Mac clients, and SMB/CIFS for Windows clients

Q & A

Will any 10 Gigabit server offer this great performance?

No. We figured out that depending on the server, the 10 Gigabit adapter, the TCP/IP stack, the operating system, and storage the performance is very different.
Is 10 Gigabit Ethernet faster than Fibre Channel?
10 Gigabit Ethernet offers a 5 times faster bandwidth than 2 Gigabit Fibre Channel and a 2.5 faster bandwidth compared to a 4 Gigabit Fibre Channel. Another question is if the maximum Fibre Channel bandwidth can be utilized by the RAID system and the server / workstations. The Sun X4500 system offers up to 2 GB (Gigabytes) disk I/O performance, which is 5 times better than a 4 Gigabit Fibre Channel. An Apple Xserve RAID offers about 130 MB/sec.
Is a total server throughput of 600 MB/s good?
Yes, this is excellent and represents already 60% of the maximum bandwidth available. This also requires a multi-CPU server, fast storage, and a fast TCP/IP stack.
Is every switch offering 10 Gigabit at this performance?
No. Many switches only offer one or a few 10 Gigabit ports but many 1 Gigabit ports. Usually these switches cannot handle full 10 Gigabit traffic. 
Will 10 Gigabit fiber-optic crossover cables work?
Yes. A server can be directly connected with a workstation using a standard LC/LC cable. The LC/LC cable uses swapped transmit and receive wires by default.

Tested Configuration


  • Sun X4500 (with OpenSolaris 11 B85)
    • 16 GB RAM
    • 48 disks (total of 24 TB or 48 TB, ZFS striped)
  • 10 Gigabit Sun card (driver: ixgb)
  • 4x 1 Gigabit ports
  • Less than 1 € (Euro) per GB
  • 2x Mac Pro (2x 2.8 GHz Quad-Core)
    • 10 Gigabit fiber-optic Ethernet adapters (Small Tree: PETG1F-XF-SR)
    • 3x Mac (Intel) OS X 10.5
  • 1 Gigabit onboard Ethernet
  • 24x 10 Gigabit ports switch from Arista 7124S with SFP+ fiber-optic SR adapters
    (Arista 7148S offers 48x 10 Gigabit ports)
  • 2x 10 Gigabit Mac Pro client connected with the switch using fiber-optic cables
  • 3x 1 Gigabit dedicated lines to 3 Mac Intel clients
  • 10 Gigabit testing has been done with jumbo frames using an MTU of 9000. Using the default of 1500 will reduce the performance by about 30% on Mac OS X. This can be changed in the “Network” control panel. On Solaris, the MTU is specified for this “ixgb” driver in “/kernel/drv/ixgb.conf”, add the line “default_mtu = 9000;”
  • 10 Gigabit connection has been realized with 10 Gigabit multimode fiber-optic links
1x HELIOS UB+ Server Solutions Suite
Benchmarking has been performed based on HELIOS UB+, with HELIOS LanTest 4.5.0 which is capable of 10 Gigabit Ethernet.

Note: The company formerly known as Arastra has changed its name to Arista Networks.



A 10 Gigabit small form factor pluggable module is called “XFP”. XFP cards and switches do not have a direct cable or fiber connection. Instead, an XFP transceiver is needed, e.g. an XFP optical transceiver with duplex LC fiber connector or an XFP copper-CX4 adapter. Some cards do not require an XFP and use an on-board fiber or copper connector.
Same as XFP but with a very small form factor. The Arista switch uses the more advanced SFP+.
LC optical fiber-optic cable
A fiber-optic cable connector type that is used with SR Ethernet ports. Some cards already have SR connectors that allow using LC cables. Some other cards require an XFP-SR adapter to use LC fiber-optic cables. The LC cable has the benefit that both the receive and send cables are settled in a fixed connector. For the HELIOS 10 Gigabit testing we used LC/LC cables from Belkin.
10 Gigabit media types




10 m over copper twinax


10 Km over SMF


220 m over OM1 / 2 / 3 MMF


300 m over OM3 MMF


10 Km over SMF


275 m over OM1 MMF


100 m over UTP

All listed media types are supported via SFP+ modules using the Arista switch.

Jumbo Frames
This is an option to change the default Ethernet packet size to a higher value up to 9000 bytes. However, not every node is able to do jumbo frames. It is best to use jumbo only in a 10 Gigabit-only network, for other traffic (Internet, etc.) a second standard Ethernet port can be used.
A very modern PCI 64-bit slot system. Mac Pro systems offer PCI-Express slots.
A 64-bit PCI slot used in many systems. Note that the Sun X4500 uses the PCI-X slot system, some other Sun servers already use PCI-Express.
The operating system used in Arista switches. Command line and commands are similar to Cisco IOS.
Cut-through switching
“cut-through” switching is a switching method where the switch starts forwarding a packet before the whole frame has been received. The Arista switch specifies a sub-microsecond latency for all packet sizes using cut-through switching.
Megabit vs. Megabyte
Mb (Megabit)
MB (Megabyte)
8 Mb=1 MB