kevindp
Contributor
Contributor

vCPU performance vs. physical CPU performance

Folks, I'm having some performance issues with one of our applications that used to run on a physical server but now we are QA'ing on a virtual server. The application is very CPU driven. Here is the environment/scenario

Physical Server:

Windows 2000 32bit, dual Xeon 2.4 GHz CPU's, 4 GB RAM

Virtual Server:

Windows 2008 64 bit, single Xeon 3.4 GHz CPU (fastest CPU core on ESX server), 4 GB RAM

ESX server where VM lives:

ESX 3.5, dual quad core 3.4 GHz CPU, 64 GB RAM

System is only about 30% utilized nominally in terms of overall CPU (50% at peaks)

Application:

The application is a DCOM object and is thread based and a single instance of the application that I am concerned with can only utilize a single CPU or single core to run. (It only uses a single CPU on the physical server and therefore only needs a single CPU on the virtual server.) We have proven this by configuring the virtual server to be a dual CPU and the run time of the application nightly processing routine takes the exact same time. There is also some moderate to heavy network I/O occurring as the application prepares many text files on a file share and then BCP's data into SQL tables on a database server.

Results:

  • On the Physical Server, the entire application runs through its daily routine in about 90 minutes

  • On the Virtual Server, the same run takes about 30-35 minutes longer to run. (approximately 120-125 mins)

  • In both cases, the application utilizes between 90-100% of a single CPU throughout the jobs run-time.

  • The application is not memory intensive, in both environments, the server's memory allocation to the particular application is about ~380 MB maximum.

Notes:

The network interface on both physical and virtual servers are the same link speed and same subnet.

There are no firewalls involved.

VMDK file for the virtual server is stored on EMC disk attached to the ESX server via iSCSI

We have tweaked multiple VM specific settings in order to increase the performance of the virtual machine to no avail. (paravirtualization, cpu/mmu virtualization)

Obviously this is a significant difference in terms of how long it takes to run and complete the jobs that the application runs. Can anyone think of something obvious that I have missed or should try to rectify my performance issues? In theory if my application is CPU driven, I should be seeing a 30-40% increase in performance (estimated based on CPU capacity only.) This can probably be skewed lower or higher based on a number of other limiting factors, but won't worry about those for know.

Anyone have any ideas or know of any VMware resources that might be able to help me out here?

Thanks,

--Kevin

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6 Replies
s1xth
VMware Employee
VMware Employee

What generation of procressors are these? I am assuming you are referencing the Harpertown generation since the clock is 3.4Ghz, but I could be mistaken. I also see you are using ESX 3.5, vSphere 4.0 ESX/ESXi has substantial improvements in the hypervisor for heavy workloads, but you really wont see a major difference on Harpertown class procs, Nehalem and Westmere on up will perform dramatically differently. If I were you I would try to get a Nehalem box (westmere proc's cost - perf ratio is still to high for at least another 4 months until the yeilds start improving).....you should see a major increase in performace from this change.

Blog: www.virtualizationbuster.com

Twitter: s1xth

http://www.virtualizationimpact.com http://www.handsonvirtualization.com Twitter: @jfranconi
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kevindp
Contributor
Contributor

Thanks for the response but I honestly have not looked into the generation on the CPU's. The physical gear for this particular ESX box is a Dell Power Edge 6850 and the CPU's are Intel Xeon 7100 series. I suppose I could investigate this but I'm curious as to what the odds are that a different generation CPU will actually resolve my "problem". Also, I'm fairly confident that if I were to tear down this particular host and install Windows Server 2008, and run the application directly on the physical server, my problem goes away and I get the performance boost I was expecting from the get-go.

If anyone has any other ideas, I'd love to hear them.

Thanks!

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RParker
Immortal
Immortal

We will just make this plain and simple. Virtual Machines are not Physical machines. The intent of VM's is NOT performance, its manageability, consolidation and accessibility.

Physical CPU will ALWAYS outrun VM's. There is no way they can make a software driven CPU run at the same speed as a physical one. So the numbers are fairly accurate, they also don't limit Virtual CPU, they run as fast as the technology allows.

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s1xth
VMware Employee
VMware Employee

Agreed.... but still...you are running a processor with an older technology from 2 years ago, Intel has made substantial changes to the Xeon line that really helps bridge that gap between the physical and virtual performance world. Just a quick note, the 7140 proc has a 800mhz FSB on it, which really hurts virtualization. Not saying it can't run it, its just older technology from 2006. The Nehalems/Westmere's would smoke that system regardless if its physical or virtual.

Blog: www.virtualizationbuster.com

Twitter: s1xth

http://www.virtualizationimpact.com http://www.handsonvirtualization.com Twitter: @jfranconi
kevindp
Contributor
Contributor

Great to know, thanks for the expertise. I will do some experimenting with some newer CPU's.

Thanks again.

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s1xth
VMware Employee
VMware Employee

No problem....good luck and let us know hwat your results are!

Blog: www.virtualizationbuster.com

Twitter: s1xth

http://www.virtualizationimpact.com http://www.handsonvirtualization.com Twitter: @jfranconi
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