Feeds

Intel: tweak Nehalem's nobs to hit high notes

"Gross degradation" in a box

HP ProLiant Gen8: Integrated lifecycle automation

Despite a tightened budget, Intel's information chief, Diane Bryant, claims the company saved $19 million by upgrading its older servers this year rather than deferring a hardware refresh until 2010.

Chipzilla's pitch for its Nehalem-based chips during a year when most IT budgets are pancake flat is focused squarely on demonstrating claims of cost-saving and consolidation. As such, Intel has trotted itself and others out as an examples for the cause.

Intel bases its $19m savings claim on utility costs, network maintenance, and data center infrastructure expenses, had the company decided to defect from its standard four-year server refresh policy due to 2009 budget restraints. The company said testing showed it could achieve a 10:1 consolidation ratio by replacing four-year-old servers based on single-core processors with new Xeon 5500 series chips.

The sentiments were echoed today in San Francisco with Intel hosting a talk with two US firms that say they've made a short return on investment with their own deployments of Nehalem. One is a privately-held trading group, Group One Trading, and the other compute outsourcing firm, R Systems.

While the talk was somewhat typical to what you'd expect for such a setup - Intel rah rah rah - one point that did stand out was the need to tinker with Nehalem settings before improvements often can be seen.

Back in June, Facebook's veep of technical operations Jonathan Heiliger was lamenting that both AMD and IBM's latest chip designs aren't bringing his company the performance gains as advertised. We suspected the lack of results were more a result of a heavily customized Facebook stack that uses PHP and MySQL than hardware.

Terence Judkins, director of systems at Group One Trading, recalls a similar situation on his company's initial tests with Nehalem.

"When we first got Nehalem - the first server we got off the shelf - we did not get good results out of it. In fact, we saw gross degradation over the previous 5400 series," Judkins said.

After scrutinizing the drop in performance, he said his team realized they had hyperthreading on by default and had the power profile set for low power utilization.

"What happens in the market place is, the market will suddenly spike up, and there's no time for a core to get up to maximum performance. So by downclocking those CPUs, we saw a performance hit," Judkins said.

"When we set power performance to maximum and turned off hyperthreading, we saw a little over 200 per cent performance increase in our trading software. It was a world of difference by just a few settings. So maybe Facebook needs to do some of their own analysis on how they're deriving their business metrics."

Intel's Bryant concurred that Judkins' experience was "spot on," saying Intel's electronic design automation (EDA) software apps are heavily single-threaded.

"There's enough knobs with Nehalem where you can get a performance pop, but you have to fit the knobs to get the benefit," she said.

Intel's past report on its saving by moving ahead with its 2009 server refresh can be found here. ®

Reducing security risks from open source software

More from The Register

next story
Sysadmin Day 2014: Quick, there's still time to get the beers in
He walked over the broken glass, killed the thugs... and er... reconnected the cables*
Amazon Reveals One Weird Trick: A Loss On Almost $20bn In Sales
Investors really hate it: Share price plunge as growth SLOWS in key AWS division
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
Auntie remains MYSTIFIED by that weekend BBC iPlayer and website outage
Still doing 'forensics' on the caching layer – Beeb digi wonk
SHOCK and AWS: The fall of Amazon's deflationary cloud
Just as Jeff Bezos did to books and CDs, Amazon's rivals are now doing to it
BlackBerry: Toss the server, mate... BES is in the CLOUD now
BlackBerry Enterprise Services takes aim at SMEs - but there's a catch
The triumph of VVOL: Everyone's jumping into bed with VMware
'Bandwagon'? Yes, we're on it and so what, say big dogs
Carbon tax repeal won't see data centre operators cut prices
Rackspace says electricity isn't a major cost, Equinix promises 'no levy'
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.