As to NFS speed, you should experiment with NFS on TCP and run a large number of nfsd on the server (see nfs_server_flags in rc.conf). For example -n 6 or -n 8. Maybe also experiment with the readsize and writesize. Anyways, i don't think you can expect the same throughput via NFS (say 10 MB/s, or more on Gig ethernet) as on a local disk
anyway even relatively slow computer (like pentium 200) can easily saturate fast ethernet. mostly network speed is the limit.
there is slowdown because network introduces slight delay, but few ms at most if network is made properly
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