Latest SPECsfs2008 results NFS vs. CIFS – chart-of-the-month

SCISFS121227-010(001) (c) 2013 Silverton Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
SCISFS121227-010(001) (c) 2013 Silverton Consulting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

We return to our perennial quest to understand file storage system performance and our views on NFS vs. CIFS performance.  As you may recall, SPECsfs2008 believes that there is no way to compare the two protocols because

  • CIFS/SMB is “statefull” and NFS is “state-less”
  • The two protocols are issuing different requests.

Nonetheless, I feel it’s important to go beyond these concerns and see if there is any way to assess the relative performance of the two protocols.  But first a couple of caveats on the above chart:

  • There are 25 CIFS/SMB submissions and most of them are for SMB environments vs. 64 NFS submissions which are all over the map
  • There are about 12 systems that have submitted exact same configurations for CIFS?SMB and NFS SPECsfs2008 benchmarks.
  • This chart does not include any SSD or FlashCache systems, just disk drive only file storage.

All that being said, let us now see what the plot has to tell us. First the regression line is computed by Excel and is a linear regression.  The regression coefficient for CIFS/SMB is much better at 0.98 vs NFS 0.80. But this just means that their is a better correlation between CIFS/SMB throughput operations per second to the number of disk drives in the benchmark submission than seen in NFS.

Second, the equation and slope for the two lines is a clear indicator that CIFS/SMB provides more throughput operations per second per disk than NFS. What this tells me is that given the same hardware, all things being equal the CIFS/SMB protocol should perform better than NFS protocol for file storage access.

Just for the record the CIFS/SMB version used by SPECsfs2008 is currently SMB2 and the NFS version is NFSv3.  SMB3 was just released last year by Microsoft and there aren’t that many vendors (other than Windows Server 2012) that support it in the field yet and SPECsfs2008 has yet to adopt it as well.   NFSv4 has been out now since 2000 but SPECsfs2008 and most vendors never adopted it.  NFSv4.1 came out in 2010 and still has little new adoption.

So these results are based on older, but current versions of both protocols available in the market today.

So, given all that, if I had an option I would run CIFS/SMB protocol for my file storage.


More information on SPECsfs2008 performance results as well as our NFS and CIFS/SMB ChampionsCharts™ for file storage systems can be found in our NAS Buying Guide available for purchase on our web site.


The complete SPECsfs2008 performance report went out in SCI’s December newsletter.  But a copy of the report will be posted on our dispatches page sometime this month (if all goes well).  However, you can get the latest storage performance analysis now and subscribe to future free newsletters by just using the signup form above right.

As always, we welcome any suggestions or comments on how to improve our SPECsfs2008  performance reports or any of our other storage performance analyses.