I/O bound, what is it, and what can be done about it?

Nathan Coulson conathan at gmail.com
Sun Sep 11 17:51:49 PDT 2011

Something I have been thinking about,  My computer can be near
unusable if I am doing too much I/O tasks at once (let's say writing
0's to one drive, while running a backup on another [using two hard
drives]).  Programs that do not use hard drives at all are almost

[and if you are curious why I was doing that,  Was recovering data
from a dying harddrive for a friend, and wanted to ensure the "new"
ancient harddrive (40GB) I salvaged was stable].

Compared to earlier systems,  my machine feels like a powerhouse (AMD
890GX w/ Integrated Graphics, Phenom ][ 945 processor [X4, 3GHz], 4GB
1333mhz Ram, 60GB OCZ Vertex 2 SSD).  Was surprised when I realized I
can slow it down without even using the processor.

although, i recall my AMD Duron 800Mhz system felt like a powerhouse
as well...  but mycommon  workload seems to consist of openbox,
firefox, urxvt, vim, and compiling software packages.

What am I seeing?  What defines the limit of I/O Traffic on a system?

Nathan Coulson (conathan)
Location: British Columbia, Canada
Timezone: PST (-8)
Webpage: http://www.nathancoulson.com

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