Disk Alignment

We use a complex stack of block device tools. As it turns out, these tools will perform slightly better if they all agree on block boundaries. Common block boundaries are powers of two, and the largest block boundaries i've heard of on modern equipment are 4MiB in size (in particular, this is the eraseblock size on certain large flash devices). So this suggestion is to align on 4MiB boundaries (as that will also guarantee alignment on smaller power-of-two boundaries).

setting up

here are the things to think about when setting up a disk:

  • physical disk partitions -- should start at a multiple of 8192s (where s means "512Byte sector"). See debian install page for more details.
  • RAID -- mdadm --create should use --data-offset=4096 (figures are in KiB, not in sectors)
  • dm_crypt/LUKS -- cryptsetup LuksFormat should use --align-payload=8192
  • LVM
    • pvcreate should use --dataalignment 8192s
    • vgcreate should use --physicalextentsize 8192s (this is currently the default)


  • Partitions: (look at Start column -- you want multiples of 8192) parted /dev/sda unit s print
  • RAID: mdadm --examine $COMPONENTDEVICE | grep Version
    • if the version is 1.1 or 1.2, then look at the data offset: mdadm --examine $COMPONENTDEVICE | grep 'Data Offset:
  • dm_crypt/LUKS: cryptsetup luksDump $BASEDEVICE | grep '^Payload offset:' (this reports in sectors apparently, which means that we want to make sure it's a multiple of 8192 as well.
  • LVM
    • Physical volumes: (look at "1st PE"): pvs --units s -o +pe_start (this should be a multiple of 8192S)
    • Volume groups: (look at "Ext"): vgs --units s -o +vg_extent_size (this should be a multiple of 8192S as well)

See also mf-check-block-alignment


if any of these are wrong, what do we do?

Last modified 2 years ago Last modified on Apr 14, 2016, 9:24:54 AM