Memory Is an Issue for End Users

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2010-03-31 Print this article Print


Memory will continue to be an issue for end users using virtualization technologies. That is a key reason why Mohawk Industries has standardized on four-socket ProLiant DL580 servers from Hewlett-Packard running quad-core Intel chips, Jevin Jensen, senior director of IS technical services, said in an e-mail to eWEEK.

"There are several hundred [virtual machines] running there," Jensen said. "We did not use blades due to I/O bottleneck. [Two-socket] servers are cheaper, but we save power, cooling, space and cabling by going with 4-sockets instead, so the total costs for Mohawk is less with the 4-socket.  We tend to run out of memory before CPU in [VMware] vSphere, so the 4-socket servers allow for greater density of memory as well."

He said he is anxious to get the Nehalem EX chip into his data center.

"We really believe that both virtualization and database servers should see a big jump in performance compared to current 4-sockets we use today," Jensen said.

At the Boston event, Gregg Wyant, CTO of Intel's internal IT unit, outlined how his group is going to incorporate the Xeon 5600 and 7500 chips into the company's IT environment.

Intel runs 95 data centers worldwide, which house about 100,000 servers, occupy 440,000 square feet, consume 28,000 kilowatts and use 18 petabytes of storage. They are also being inundated by 45 percent year-over-year compute growth and 35 percent year-over-year data storage growth, Wyant said.

Intel is on a four-year refresh cycle, and also is in the middle of a seven-year plan to move to a combined internal and external cloud environment. The new RAS capabilities, memory features, performance improvements and energy efficiency offerings will help Intel keep on track for both, Wyant said.

Intel is continuing to replace single-socket systems with fewer larger servers, he said. The chip maker replaced 18,000 of them last year.

"The best part is, I don't need to build new data centers" to handle the IT growth demands, thanks to the performance increases and consolidation capabilities, he said.

As Intel looks to move up the server stack, AMD is looking to expand what it can to in the mainstream, IDC's Eastwood said.

"AMD has always done well with performance-oriented workload ([database], HPC and [virtualization]), which resulted in a share that disproportionately skewed to [four-socket servers]," he said. "AMD is repositioning itself into the mainstream of the market where [two-socket] servers comprise about 80 percent of all x86 volumes live."

While the push for AMD is around mainstream workloads, it also involves workloads that look for inexpensive performance, Eastwood said.

"This will include some HPC and also some database and virtualization where customers aren't willing to pay a price premium for Nehalem EX," he said. "This will be particularly true in the 4P space, where Intel hopes to capture additional margin for its RAS features, but AMD hopes to both keep Intel honest on pricing and also win its share of workloads which need memory."

AMD officials said they not only wanted to give businesses two platforms for the two-socket server space-which they said makes up about 75 percent of the x86 server space-but also an easier and cheaper path to four-socket computing.

The Opteron 6000 processors can run in both two- and four-socket systems and are priced lower than Intel's Xeon 5600 and 7500 chips. There is a demand among businesses to be able to make the move to four-socket systems to deal with virtualization and such high-end workloads as databases, but without incurring the high costs that come with making such a move through Intel, according to Gina Longoria, director of product management of AMD's Server and Workstation Division.

Matt Lavallee, director of IT for MLS PIN, said he is a heavy user of Microsoft's Hyper-V virtualization technology, and that memory continues to be an issue. Lavallee currently runs primarily two-socket servers, but said that with the higher performance and the ability to reduce software licensing costs through the use of Opteron 6000-based systems, he is looking to increase his use of four-socket servers.

"The ability to scale to larger systems was important," Lavallee, who tested systems running on the Magny-Cours chips, said during an online customer roundtable after the March 29 AMD launch.


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