Throughput and Data Storage

Written by Lynn Orlando

Written by Lynn Orlando

Published on March 12, 2020

Understanding throughput with regard to data storage is key to improving user experience and to maintaining optimal levels of speed throughout the entire data transmission process. Keeping a steady stream of throughput ensures that your data center performance does not get hosed!

What Is Throughput?

Throughput is the number of units of information a system is capable of processing in an allotted time increment. It is an accurate measure of how much data will reach your device and, after all other factors have been considered, will be available for your use. It is a more accurate indicator of how efficient your network and device will be than bandwidth. While bandwidth is the theoretical measure of data transmission speed, throughput is a measure of the packet delivery in real life. It takes into account all factors that will influence the rate of data transmission. These factors can include signal power and noise power throughout the network, insufficient storage in the RAM, or outdated software. Your bandwidth may theoretically be excellent. Once the data transmits through the network and navigates storage or processing issues, the bits per second (BPS) will be lower. It’s why data throughput is considered a real measure of network speed, after taking into account device and software inefficiencies.

Why Is Data Throughput Important?

Efficient data throughput is key to the success of many modern businesses. User experience is adversely affected by poor data throughput, and a bad experience will encourage clients to take their business somewhere else. Excellent throughput contributes to team productivity and positive client experiences, in turn, allowing your company to rise to the top as a quality service provider.

What Can Cause Bottlenecks in Throughput?

Several items may contribute to bottlenecks, many of them relating to inefficient data storage. 

1. Overworked CPU

When your device’s central processing unit (CPU) cannot deliver on the tasks requested, a performance bottleneck can occur, the result of the CPU being overwhelmed by numerous requests the network is throwing at it. A queue of unmet requests begins to form, which adds stress to the CPU. Long queues can be caused by an overly engaged I/O device or a faulty memory.

2. Hard Disk Data Retrieval

Using long-term storage on your device will slow processing. Once it has reached its capacity, the random-access memory (RAM) will transfer older data into the device’s long-term storage, the hard disk. Unfortunately, this storage component is notoriously slow and inefficient, and your throughput will be affected. When the user requests older data stored on the hard disk to be retrieved, the hard drive must scan the entire disk to find all the fragments that make up that piece of data. It then fits those fragments together, after which it can provide the full piece of data to the user. The process is complicated, especially if you are using older software

3. Memory Limitations

There are two different types of memory-based sources of bottlenecks. One possibility is that your system’s RAM may not be efficient enough to keep up with the processing rate of the CPU. The CPU will end up waiting on standby for data to be transmitted from the RAM. The second source is related to data retrieval from the hard disk. Since the RAM can only accommodate a limited amount of data within its storage, it will move data which it deems less relevant to other storage drives: the optical drive, an SSD, or an HDD. Eventually, when requested by the user, the processor may need to access this information. It must then go through the task of pulling the info from storage and making room for it in the RAM by switching out current data. This process will slow data throughput.

4. Network Overwhelm

The network communication device mediating the transmission of data between the source and your system can become overwhelmed. Also, your server can run out of resources such as hard drive space, and the CPU will not be able to keep up. Note that if you are running on a WAN (wide area network) based server rather than a LAN (local area network) based server, the bottleneck you are experiencing is likely not a network overload

5. Software

Your data throughput may be lacking, not because of your network or hardware constraints but because of the software programs you are operating. The software can have predetermined limitations coded into it, limiting the number of processing tasks that can be sustained by the program. These limitations will exist independently of your device’s processing abilities or RAM.

How Can You Increase Throughput?

First and foremost, consider using the Stellus Data Platform. Our throughput is amazing! Outside of that, depending on the source of the bottleneck, throughput can be improved using a variety of tools and upgrades, such as updating software, upgrading hardware, adding RAM, replacing RAM with a faster option, moving temp files from the main partition, and even defragmenting. Inefficiencies in hardware, memory drives, software, and the network itself can all contribute to poor data throughput. Staying on top of these issues can keep your system operating quickly, improving productivity and user experience.

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