I/O Latency And Performance Tuning

Andy Galbraith is starting a new toolbox series.  His first post is an introduction and a look at drive latency:

You look at the numbers again, and now you find that disk latency, which had previously been fine, is now completely in the tank during the business day, showing that I/O delays are through the roof.
What happened?
This demonstrates the concept of shifting bottleneck – while CPU use was through the roof, the engine so bogged down that it couldn’t generate that much I/O, but once the CPU issue was resolved queries started moving through more quickly until the next choke point was met at the I/O limit.  Odds are once you resolve the I/O situation, you would find a new bottleneck.
How do you ever defeat a bad guy that constantly moves around and frequently changes form?

Click through for some pointers on disk latency and trying to figure out when it becomes a problem.

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