fio versions < 3.3 may show inflated random write performance


If your storage system implements inline compression, performance results with small IO size random writes with time_based and runtime may be inflated with fio versions < 3.3 due to fio generating unexpectedly compressible data when using fio’s default data pattern. Although unintuitive, performance can often be increased by enabling compression especially if the bottleneck is on the storage media, replication or a combination of both.

fio 2.8.1 vs fio 3.33 data patterns

Therefore if you are comparing performance results generated using fio version < 3.3 and fio >=3.3 the random write performance on the same storage platform my appear reduced with more recent fio versions.

fio-3.3 was released in December 2017 but older fio versions are still in use particularly on distributions with long term (LTS) support. For instance Ubuntu 16, which is supported until 2026 ships with fio-2.2.10

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Creating compressible data with fio.


Today I used fio to create some compressible data to test on my Nutanix nodes.  I ended up using the following fio params to get what I wanted.


  • buffer_compress_percentage does what you’d expect and specifies how compressible the data is
  • refill_buffers Is required to make the above compress percentage do what you’d expect in the large.  IOW, I want the entire file to be compressible by the buffer_compress_percentage amount
  • buffer_pattern  This is a big one.  Without setting this pattern, fio will use Null bytes to achieve compressibility, and Nutanix like many other storage vendors will suppress runs of Zero’s and so the data reduction will mostly be from zero suppression rather than from compression.

Much of this is well explained in the README for latest version of fio.

Also NOTE  Older versions of fio do not support many of the fancy data creation flags, but will not alert you to the fact that fio is ignoring them. I spent quite a bit of time wondering why my data was not compressed, until I downloaded and compiled the latest fio.