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|Oracle Solaris Tunable Parameters Reference Manual Oracle Solaris 10 1/13 Information Library|
ZFS is designed to work with storage devices that manage a disk-level cache. ZFS commonly asks the storage device to ensure that data is safely placed on stable storage by requesting a cache flush. For JBOD storage, this works as designed and without problems. For many NVRAM-based storage arrays, a performance problem might occur if the array takes the cache flush request and actually does something with it, rather than ignoring it. Some storage arrays flush their large caches despite the fact that the NVRAM protection makes those caches as good as stable storage.
ZFS issues infrequent flushes (every 5 second or so) after the uberblock updates. The flushing infrequency is fairly inconsequential so no tuning is warranted here. ZFS also issues a flush every time an application requests a synchronous write (O_DSYNC, fsync, NFS commit, and so on). The completion of this type of flush is waited upon by the application and impacts performance. Greatly so, in fact. From a performance standpoint, this neutralizes the benefits of having an NVRAM-based storage.
This parameter controls ZFS write cache flushes for the entire system.
Oracle's Sun hardware should not require tuning this parameter. If you need to tune cache flushing, considering tuning it per hardware device. See the general instructions below. Contact your storage vendor for instructions on how to tell the storage devices to ignore the cache flushes sent by ZFS.
0 (enabled) or 1 (disabled)
Cache flush tuning was recently shown to help some SSD performance when used as log devices. This tuning syntax can be included in sd.conf but there must be only a single sd-config-list entry per vendor/product. For example:
sd-config-list = "ATA TX43E10100GB0LSI","throttle-max:32, disksort:false, cache-nonvolatile:true";
As a last resort, when all LUNs exposed to ZFS come from NVRAM-protected storage array and procedures ensure that no unprotected LUNs will be added in the future, ZFS can be tuned to not issue the flush requests by setting zfs_nocacheflush. If some LUNs exposed to ZFS are not protected by NVRAM, then this tuning can lead to data loss, application level corruption, or even pool corruption. In some NVRAM-protected storage arrays, the cache flush command is a no-op, so tuning in this situation makes no performance difference.