Bare metal cloud solutions business Bigstep has announced the findings of new benchmarking studies that reveal how users can get up to 60% more performance from any infrastructure.
The studies sought to assess areas of potential performance improvement in a businesses’ infrastructure from some basic tweaks to their bare metal infrastructure-as-as-service (Iaas) solutions. Amazingly the benchmarks found that some conventional wisdom on tweaking servers produced a reduction in service not an improvement eg reducing the number of CPUs and switching off hyper-threading can actually speed up performance.
One processor is better than two by up to 15%
In benchmarks performed on several databases, as well as in SysBench and TPC-DS tests, Bigstep found that single processor bare metal instances can generate better performance than dual processor machines. This means that adding a second processor to a machine can actually lower a database’s performance. According to Bigstep this anomaly is down to the overhead caused when the two processors share memory, which takes longer as opposed to each CPU accessing only its own: Big step recommend s users should configure the OS to use only Local Memory Access for each processor to avoid the overhead.
CentOS improves application performance by up to 20% over Ubuntu
In its Linpack benchmarks, Bigstep found that by switching to CentOS 6.4 businesses can yield up to 16-20% better performance, when paired against Ubuntu 12 LTS. The tests were done using default options and kernel settings. Bigstep recommends checking the differences between kernel versions and settings and configuring the OS to match those of the better performing system.
Improving memory frequency can add 20% more preformance
Memory frequency is often overlooked as RAM is generally expected to be ‘fast enough’. However, the impact memory can have on computing performance is underestimated. In Linpack benchmarks, Bigstep found that replacing 1333 MHz DIMMs with 1866 MHz DIMMs from the same provider increased overall computing performance (total no. of GigaFLOPs) by a fifth.
Applications that are heavily impacted by memory access time, such as NoSQL databases, can be greatly affected by this metric as Bigstep have identified advantages in performance of up to 40% from simply upping the frequency.
The physical placement of memory in slots can also greatly impact performance. With the wrong placement, memory chips will not make use of their maximum frequency and could even function at half their intended performance. Some vendors provide online configurators for optimum memory placement inside the bare metal server. Just by changing the distribution of memory across their machines, users could achieve a significant increase in frequency and performance.
Hyper-Threading can decrease performance for CPU intensive applications
Intel’s Hyper-Threading technology is meant to accelerate CPU performance and in most cases it does that very well. However, in applications that are very CPU intensive, deactivating Hyper-Threading can yield 5-10% better performance. In bare metal environments, deactivating Intel Virtualization Technology (Intel VT-x) can also yield an extra performance boost of up to 5%.
Bigstep believes the findings can be applied to any infrastructure and Bigstep commercial director Ioana Hreninciuc believes many IT directors are not seeing the best performance from their infrastructure:
“We operate tens of thousands of servers and constantly test performance, so we know that an infrastructure is the heartbeat of any IT environment,” she said. “Some findings from the benchmarking are hugely surprising – who would’ve thought that deactivating one of two CPUs would increase performance by up to 15%? Many users are not seeing the performance they could and, with just a few tweaks, any server could perform by up to 60% better, avoiding costly upgrades or migrations.”
Bigstep’s product manager Alex Bordei will be discussing the benchmarking in more detail during an exclusive O’Reilly webcast ‘Getting the Most Out of Your NoSQL DB - Best Practices for Optimizing Infrastructure Performance and Budget’ on 7 August.
The webcast is hosted by O’Reilly’s Chief Data Scientist and Director of Content Strategy for Data, Ben Lorica, and anyone interested in attending can register for free here.