Ever since the original T500 shipped, HP has been producing high end servers to handle large workloads. Most folks in IT understand that to handle these larger workloads you need a server with good processor performance and lots of I/O. Today’s HP Integrity Superdome servers are excellent high end workload platforms that are used in many enterprises for the most demanding requirements. Many customers are pleased by the capability of Integrity servers, just as one telecom customer discovered as they replaced their Sun Fire 25K (144 processors) with an HP Integrity Superdome with 96 processors. Even with two-thirds the number or processors, this customer found that the HP system had 200% higher I/O performance.
Hewlett Packard has designed Integrity servers with the objective of maximizing both processor throughput and system I/O. If you look at some of the popular published benchmarks used to compare platform capability, you might get a different view of system performance. System I/O is not generally benchmarked, but is of significant importance during peak workload time periods and many times is the reason that servers are undersized at time of acquisition. HP’s competitors tend to build their systems to maximize benchmark performance, many times ignoring customer requirements. This sometimes causes some red-faces after the system has been sized and installed, and workload performance is not up to expectation. The bottom line is that many customers that have run their own proof of concept tests or internal bake-offs with real workloads have been very happy with the performance of HP Integrity servers running Intel Itanium processors relative to other vendors’ hardware platforms.
To close out this entry, I wanted to check to see if anyone else has seen this same phenomenon regarding server sizing, workload performance, and I/O. I will talk about balanced performance topics in the future as well.