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The VMware VMmark web site was recently updated to show Dell’s PowerEdge M910 blade server in the #1 slot (for blades) in the two socket space. I think the PowerEdge M910 is very intriguing, so I thought I’d spend some time highlighting the features. Read the rest of this entry »

I’ve had a few questions lately about “the best” blade server to use for virtualization – specifically VMware virtualization. While the obvious answer is “it depends”, I thought it would be an interesting approach to identify the blade servers that ranked in the top 5 in VMware’s VMmark benchmark. Before I begin, let me explain what the VMark testing is about. VMmark enables equipment manufacturers, software vendors, system integrators and other organizations to:

  • Measure virtual machine performance accurately and reliably
  • Determine the performance of different hardware and virtualization platforms
  • Make appropriate hardware decisions for your virtual infrastructure

VMware developed VMmark as a standard methodology for comparing virtualized systems. According to VMware’s VMark website, the benchmark system in VMmark is comprised of a series of “sub-tests” that are derived from commonly used load-generation tools, as well as from benchmarks developed by the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC®). In parallel to VMmark, VMware is a member of the SPEC Virtualization subcommittee and is working with other SPEC members to create the next generation virtualization benchmark.

In testing the terms, a “tile” is simply a collection of virtual machines (VM’s) that are executing a set of diverse workloads designed to represent a natural work environment. The total number of tiles that a server can handle provides a detailed measurement of that server’s consolidation capacity. The more tiles, the better. The faster the performance, the better.

THE RESULTS (as of 6/2/2010)

24 Cores (4 Sockets)
HP ProLiant BL685c G6 running VMware ESX v4.0 – 29.19@20 tiles (published 7/14/2009)
HP ProLiant BL680c G5 running VMware ESX v3.5.0 Update 3 – 18.64@14 tiles (published 3/30/2009)

16 Cores (4 Sockets)
Dell PowerEdge M905 running VMware ESX v4.0 – 22.90@17 tiles (published 6/19/2009)
HP ProLiant BL685 G6 running VMware ESX v4.0 – 20.87@14 tiles (published 4/24/2009)

12 Cores (2 Sockets)
Cisco UCS B250 M2 running VMware ESX v4.0 Update 1 – 35.83@26 tiles (published 4/6/2010)
Fujitsu BX922 S2 running VMware ESX v4.0 Update 1 – 32.89@24 tiles (published 4/6/2010)

8 Cores (2 Sockets)
Fujitsu BX922 S2 running VMware ESX v4.0 Update 1 – 27.99@18tiles (published 5/10/2010)
HP ProLiant BL490c G6 runningVMware ESX v4.0 – 25.27@17tiles (published 4/20/2010)

THE WINNER IS…
Cisco UCS B250 M2
running VMware ESX v4.0 Update 1 – 35.83 with 26 tiles

Cisco’s Winning Configuration
So – how did Cisco reach the top server spot? Here’s the configuration:

server config:

  • 2 x Intel Xeon X5680 Processors
  • 192GB of RAM (48 x 4GB)
  • 1 x Converged Network Adapter (Cisco UCS VIC M81KR)

storage config:

  • EMC CX4-240
  • Cisco MDS 9134
  • 1173.48GB Used Disk Space
  • 1024MB Array Cache
  • 50 disks used on 5 enclosures/shelves (1 with 14 disk, 4 with 9 disks)
  • 55 LUNs used
    *21 at 38GB (file server + mail server) over 20 x 73GB SSDs
    *5 at 38GB (file server + mail server) over 20 x 73GB SSDs
    *21 at 15GB (database) + 2 LUNs at 400GB (Standby, Webserver, Javaserver) over 16 x 450GB 15k disks
    *5 at 15GB (database) over 16 x 450GB 15k disks
    * 1 LUN at 20GB (boot) over 5 x 300GB 15k disks
  • RAID 0 for VMs, RAID 5 for VMware ESX 4.0 O/S

As you can see from the information above, the Cisco UCS B250 M2 is the clear winner above all of the blade server offerings. As you can see, none of the Xeon 7500 blade servers have yet to be tested but when they do, I’ll be sure to let you know.

Cisco is getting some (more) recognition with their UCS blade server product, as they recently achieved the top position for “8 Core Server” on VMware’s VMmark benchmark tool. VMmark is the industry’s first (and only credible) virtualization benchmark for x86-based computers. According to the VMmark website, the Cisco UCS B200 blade server reached a score of 25.06 @ 17 tiles. A “tile” is simple a collection of virtual machines (VM’s) that are executing a set of diverse workloads designed to represent a natural work environment. The total number of tiles that a server can handle provides a detailed measurement of that server’s consolidation capacity.

Cisco’s Winning Configuration
So – how did Cisco reach the top server spot? Here’s the configuration:

server config:

  • 2 x Intel Xeon X5570 Processors
  • 96GB of RAM (16 x 8GB)
  • 1 x Converged Network Adapter (Cisco UCS M71KR-Q)

storage config:

  • EMC CX4-240
  • Cisco MDS 9130
  • 1154.27GB Used Disk Space
  • 1024MB Array Cache
  • 41 disks used on 4 enclosures/shelves (1 with 14 disk, 3 with 9 disks)
  • 37 LUNs used
    *17 at 38GB (file server + mail server) over 20 x 73GB SSDs
    *17 at 15GB (database) + 2 LUNs at 400GB (Misc) over 16 x 450GB 15k disks
    * 1 LUN at 20GB (boot) over 5 x 300GB 15k disks
  • RAID 0 for VMs, RAID 5 for VMware ESX 4.0 O/S

While first place on the VMmark page (8 cores) shows Fujitsu’s RX300, it’s important to note that it was reached using Intel’s W5590 processor – a processor that is designed for “workstations” – not servers. Second place, of server processors, currently shows HP’s BL490 with 24.54 (@ 17 tiles)

Thanks to Omar Sultan (@omarsultan) for Tweeting about this and to Harris Sussman for blogging about it.