Feeds

Intel: tweak Nehalem's nobs to hit high notes

"Gross degradation" in a box

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Docker's app containers are coming to Windows Server, says Microsoft
MS chases app deployment speeds already enjoyed by Linux devs
IBM storage revenues sink: 'We are disappointed,' says CEO
Time to put the storage biz up for sale?
'Hmm, why CAN'T I run a water pipe through that rack of media servers?'
Leaving Las Vegas for Armenia kludging and Dubai dune bashing
Facebook slurps 'paste sites' for STOLEN passwords, sprinkles on hash and salt
Zuck's ad empire DOESN'T see details in plain text. Phew!
SDI wars: WTF is software defined infrastructure?
This time we play for ALL the marbles
Windows 10: Forget Cloudobile, put Security and Privacy First
But - dammit - It would be insane to say 'don't collect, because NSA'
Oracle hires former SAP exec for cloudy push
'We know Larry said cloud was gibberish, and insane, and idiotic, but...'
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.