Reality Check: Server Insights
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Scaling up your virtualization solution on 8-socket HP ProLiant Servers

These days, when wearing my “Linux planner” hat, and with Virtualization being the “phrase that pays”, I’m often asked to help provide guidance on how to best take advantage of the technology included in our 8-socket HP ProLiant server offerings for Linux based virtualization solutions like Red Hat Enterprise Virtualization or Suse Linux Enterprise Server Xen (there’s a plethora of information out there about VMware ESX/ESXi 3.5.x and vSphere 4.0, so I’m not going to talk about that, this time around.)

The problem I’ve had, until recently, was providing actual – objective - data as a means to help illustrate my points.  For instance, I could not clearly illustrate how a snoop filter on the CPU interconnect can improve the linearity of the workload scalability in a virtualized environment (see Fig. 1).

Fig. 1: Average response time with pinned vs. un-pinned processors

 Fig. 1: Average response time with pinned vs. un-pinned processors

I was unable to demonstrate benefits of the NUMA aware scheduler that the Linux kernel uses and how it does improve performance. (In figures 2 and 3, it’s represented by the improvement in average response times from the web-servers included in the workload) when your workloads run with memory interleaving disabled in the system BIOS – see Fig. 2. Unless, for support reasons, your application vendor explicitly tells you otherwise.

Fig. 2: Average Response Times - Non-interleaved Memory Config

Fig. 2: Average Response Times - Non-interleaved Memory Config

Fig. 3: Average Response Times - Interleaved memory

Fig. 3: Average Response Times - Interleaved memory

I also used to have a hard time explaining how and why to tune the Linux kernel for these systems. For instance, I only suspected how little (none) tuning of the host platform is required in order to drive pretty significant numbers of guests  (98) in these environments - see Fig. 4. But, if you engage in some very minor tuning activities of the network stack, how those very same workload performance results can be extended even further (to 256 guests) – see Fig. 5:

Fig. 4: The system has not been tuned beyond it's "out of the box" state.

Fig. 4: The system has not been tuned beyond it's "out of the box" state.

Fig. 5: System is tuned and exhibiting linear scalability to 256 KVM guests

Fig. 5: System is tuned and exhibiting linear scalability to 256 KVM guests

As part of a joint documentation effort with Red Hat, all of the data collected has been brought together in a Reference Architecture document  - “Scaling RHEL 5.4 + KVM up to 256 Guests" available for free from Red Hat’s website.

We obviously picked the guest density to prove a point about the platform, however it’s worth mentioning that 256 guests does not represent the upper bound for the platform. It only represents where we thought the density went (far) beyond what is reasonable to expect in a production environment this day in age.

Contributed by Thomas Sjolshagen (Strategic Planner for Linux and Virtualization on scale-up x86 servers)

Another business intelligence leadership proof point for HP ProLiant DL785 G6 – this time with Sybase IQ and Red Hat Enterprise Linux

As I mentioned in one my previous blogs, as x86
processors are getting more powerful, 64 bit architecture is becoming
more mature, memory DIMMs are getting bigger & cost effective, more
and more scalable x86 software applications are becoming available,
scale-up x86 servers are becoming ideal choice for large business
intelligence and decision support system deployment at a cost that no
one imagined a few years ago.





The latest world record performance
result of HP ProLiant DL785 G6, 102,375.3 QphH at $3.63 USD/QphH, on TPC-H @ 1000 GB benchmark running Sybase IQ 15.1 database and Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.3
operating system is an excellent proof point. This #1 non-clustered performance benchmark result demonstrates
that customers can deploy large business intelligence solutions at an
aggressive TCO on high-performance 8‑socket x86 servers running. In addition to holding
the #1 non-clustered x86 performance result, the DL785 G6 offers outstanding
price/performance maintaining #1 8P price /performance record in the TPC-H @
1000 GB benchmark category.

DL785 G6 with the six-core AMD Opteron™ processors has been designed as
an excellent database server. Its balanced architecture with ample I/O
and memory make it an ideal platform for decision support and business
intelligence  processes.

Hundreds of customers run their database applications on the DL785

The TPC Benchmark™H (TPC-H)  is a decision support benchmark, with components that are intended to be relevant to customers who deploy decision support systems as part of their business intelligence solution. The benchmark is comprised of a suite of business oriented ad-hoc queries and concurrent data modifications that examine large volumes of data and execute highly complex queries. Many
businesses find this type of benchmark useful in determining what
servers to utilize because the TPC-H benchmark illustrates decision
support systems that examine large volumes of data, execute queries with
a high degree of complexity, and give answers to critical business

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Looking for more performance and lower costs for your SAP applications? HP ProLiant servers and SUSE Linux Enterprise Server solution is leading the pack .

Increasingly, Linux is being selected for business-oriented enterprise applications due to its growing reputation for stability; reliability and scalability combined with the cost economies of Linux and open source (see IDC white paper ).  

Effectively supporting business critical deployments require that the underlying computing platform offers the performance, scalability, and expandability for the most demanding resource intensive workloads. In addition to the maturation of Linux, x86 platforms have also grown up becoming more advanced and now offer features that accelerate performance, improve availability and manageability, expand memory capacity, and optimize power usage. The resulting combination of Linux on scale-up x86 servers has become an attractive choice for customers who require the economies of an x86 ecosystem.

 HP ProLiant servers offer exceptional performance for enterprise class business applications running Linux at an attractive total cost of ownership due lower management, maintenance and energy costs.

With the latest benchmark results published on December 7th , 2009,  ProLiant servers now hold the #1 Linux 8-processor, #1 Linux 4-processor, and both the #1 and #2 Linux 2-processor two-tier SAP SD benchmark with SAP enhancement package 4 for SAP ERP 6.0 results demonstrating the scalability of the ProLiant AMD Opteron server family with a 3.47x performance increase when migrating from a two-processor to eight-processor server.

The HP ProLiant DL785 G6 scored best 8-processor result for Linux with the two-tier SAP Sales and Distribution Standard Application Benchmark.  This recent certification was completed on the 48-core ProLiant DL785G6 configured with the SAP enhancement package 4 for SAP ERP 6.0 running SUSE Linux Enterprise Servers 10 SP2 and MaxDB.  

In addition to demonstrating excellent performance and scalability, this combination of utilizing industry standard HP ProLiant DL785 hardware combined with the lower cost of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server can provide a TCO saving of 32.4% when compared to the Sun Solaris 10 on SPARC T5440 UltraSPARC T2 platform. For this detailed TCO analysis and to learn more about migrating your SAP environment from Solaris to SUSE Linux Enterprise Server on HP platforms check out this on-demand webinar .


- Contributed by John Rinehart

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First two days at VMworld 2009

It’s been busy, but, very productive two days at VMworld 2009 event.  The VMworld exhibition floor at Moscone Center, San Francisco, was packed with more than 12,000 attendees. A lot of virtualization enthusiasts, customers, hardware vendors, ISVs and service providers are learning, collaborating and sharing best practices about virtualization solutions and services.


I have been spending most of my time at HP ProLiant G6 booth where we are demonstrating the complete line of G6 (Generation 6) ProLiant server.  Many customers and partners stopped by to learn more about the new generation of the ProLiant servers.  Many customers were interested in the DL785 G6 and its record-breaking virtualization performance announced earlier today. DL785 G6 is being demonstrated at the HP ProLiant G6 booth as well as the AMD booth.


The first two days of VMworld action is captured in the photo slide-show pointed from the blog A picture tour of HP at VMworld 2009 .


Come by AMD’s Masters of Virtualization Theater in the AMD booth #1408 today evening (Wednesday, September 2nd) at 5:00pm and hear me talk how to Consolidate, Virtualize and Save Some Green.  Listen and learn and you’ll have a chance to win a Free ATI FirePro v3700!


Looking forward to the rest of the VMWorld event.

New AMD Six-core Opteron™ Processors add more horsepower to the industry’s x-86 workhorse

Current economic,
environmental and energy constraints often do not make it possible to add
additional servers in the data center to align with the demands of the
business.  As a result, companies are looking to consolidate workloads on
fewer servers to reclaim the underutilized capacity, lower the total cost of
ownership and simplify data center management. Virtualization technologies,
like VMware, on larger platforms such as the HP ProLiant DL785 G6 are key to
improving server utilization.

ProLiant DL785 G6
with 48 processing cores, up to 512 GB memory and 11 PCI-e I/O ports, provides
ample resources for very large number of virtual machines and offers a very
high consolidation and virtualization ratio. The new world-record VMMark benchmark result with 53.73
score while running 210 virtual machines proves that the HP ProLiant DL785 G6 is ideal
for virtualization and consolidation environments. The industry x-86 workhorse
beats the nearest 8-socket competitor by almost 58% on VMMark benchmark. 

DL785 G6
shows increased scalability with the new AMD Opteron processors. As compared to
the previous result on DL785 G5 (with 8 Quad-Core processors), the DL785 G6
(with 8 six-core processors) showed 70.2% increased performance. I have been
asked this question many times – what makes DL785 G6 or other multi-processor
ProLiant servers with the new six-core Opteron processors run more than 50%
faster than the previous generation G5 servers with AMD quad core processors?

addition to the virtualization acceleration technology like Rapid Virtualization indexing (RVI) ,
the newly introduced HT-Assit
with six-core 8400 series AMD Opteron processors is a key contributor to the excellent performance of HP
multi-processor servers including DL785 G6.

HT Assist
helps reduces memory latency, improves HyperTransport bus efficiency and
increases overall system performance in multi-processor systems by reducing the
probe traffic and resolving probes quickly. It can eliminate the probe
broadcasting in 8 out of 11 typical CPU-to-CPU transactions in a
multi-processor system like DL785 G6.

technologies help HP ProLiant servers achieve #1 virtualization performance results
and near linear scaling as demonstrated on VMMark benchmark. The 4-processor
DL585 G6 server shows 1.86
times scaling from 2-processor DL385 G6 server and the 8-processor DL785 G6
server shows 1.79
times scaling from 4-processor DL585 G6 server.

unparalleled virtualization leadership is demonstrated in the AMD video featuring HP ProLiant DL785
G6 running 180 VMs!
AMD will have this demo live at their booth (#1408)
at VMWorld, August 31-September 3rd 2009.

join us in the HP Booth (#2023) at VMWorld to see the ProLiant G6 servers,
including DL785 G6, and a showcase of a wide variety of server, storage and
networking virtualization solutions.


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  • I am part of the embedded software management team doing UEFI, HP RESTful API & Scripting tools (STK, PowerShell, HP RESTful Interface Tool), etc
  • I am part of ISS Product Marketing, currently managing couple of dual processor ProLiant servers.
  • More than 25 years in the IT industry developing and managing marketing programs. Focused in emerging technologies like Virtualization, cloud and big data.
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