TCO and ROI have been abused repeatedly by sales representatives, in the hope of getting you to swallow the sometimes outrageously high pricing on their quotation for a trendy new technology. However, server virtualization is one of the few ICT technologies that really lives up to its hype. The cost savings are real and the TCO is great, as long as you obey a few basic rules like not installing bloatware or extremely large memory limited databases. There is more.

Server consolidation is superb for the IT professional who is also a hardware enthusiast (and thus reads ?). Hardware purchases used to be motivated by the fact that the equipment was written off or because the maintenance contract was at the end of its life. Can you even think of a more boring reason to buy new hardware? The timeframe between the beginning of the 21st century and the start of commercially viable virtualization solutions was the timeframe where the bean counters ruled the datacenter. Few people were interested in hearing how much faster the newest servers were, as in most cases the extra processing power would go to waste 95% of the time anyway.

Now with virtualization, we hardware nerds are back with a vengeance. Every drop of performance you wring out of your servers translates into potentially higher consolidation ratios (more VMs per physical machine) or better response time per VM. More VMs per machine means immediate short- and long-term cost savings, and better performance per VM means happier users. Yes, performance matters once again and system administrators are seen as key persons, vital to accomplishing the business goals. But how do you know what hardware you should buy for virtualization? There are only two consolidation benchmarks out there: Intel's vConsolidate and VMware's VMmark. Both are cumbersome to set up and both are based on industry benchmarks (SPECJbb2005) that are only somewhat or even hardly representative of real-world applications. The result is that VMmark, despite the fact that it is a valuable benchmark, has turned into yet another OEM benchmark(et)ing tool. The only goal of the OEMs seems to be to produce scores as high as possible; that is understandable from their point of view, but not very useful for the IT professional. Without an analysis of where the extra performance comes from, the scores give a quick first impression but nothing more.

Yes, this article is long overdue, but the Sizing Servers Lab proudly presents the AnandTech readers with our newest virtualization benchmark, vApus Mark I, which uses real-world applications in a Windows Server Consolidation scenario. Our goal is certainly not to replace nor to discredit VMmark, but rather to give you another data point -- an independent second opinion based on solid benchmarking. Combining our own testing with what we find on the VMmark page, we will be able to understand the virtualization performance landscape a bit better. Before we dive into the results, let's discuss the reasoning behind some of the choices we made.

The Virtualization Benchmarking Chaos
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  • tshen83 - Thursday, May 21, 2009 - link


    Let's not fool each other. Johan's AMD bias is disgusting.

    My assertion that HardOCP killed the GPU market is simply trying to show you the effect of invalidating industry standard benchmarks. Architecturally, Nvidia's GPU bigger monolithic cores are far more advanced than ATI's cores right now. In GPGPU applications, it is not even close. The problem with gaming FPS benchmark as I have said is that developers are typically happy once the FPS reaches parity. It does not show architectural superiority.

    vApus? There are a ton of questions unanswered.
    1. Who wrote the software?(I assume European)
    2. Does the software scale linearly? And does the software scale on both AMD and Intel architecuture?
    3. Why benchmark 4 Core Virtual machines when we know that VMware doesn't really scale that well themselves in SMP setup?
    4. Seriously? OLAP database? How many real world people run

    I usually don't respond to Anandtech articles unless the article is disgustingly stupid. I also don't understand why you guys can't accept the fact that Nehalem is in fact 100% performance/watt improved vs the previous generation Xeon. It is backed by data from more than one industry standard benchmark.

    Is AMD worth a look today? No, absolutely not. If you are still considering anything AMD today, you are an idiot. (The world is full of idiots) AMD's only chance is if they can release the G34 socket platform within a TDP range that is acceptable before they run out of cash.

    Before you call me a troll, remind yourself this: usually the troll is smarter than the people he/she is trolling. So ask yourself this question: did Johan deserve the negative critism?
  • JarredWalton - Thursday, May 21, 2009 - link

    You criticize every one of his articles, often because I'm not sure your reading comprehension is up to snuff. His "AMD bias" is not disgusting, though I'm quite sure your Intel bias is far worse than his AMD bias. The reason 3DMark has been largely invalidated is that it doesn't show realistic performance - though some of the latest versions scale similarly to some games, at best 3DMark measures 3DMark performance. Similarly, VMmark measures VMmark performance. Unless your workload is the same as VMmark, it doesn't really tell you much.

    1 - Who wrote the software? According to the article, "vApus or Virtual Application Unique Stresstest is a stress test developed by Dieter Vandroemme, lead developer of the Sizing Server Lab at the University College of West-Flanders." His being European has nothing to do with anything at all, unless you're a racist, bigoted fool.

    2 - 2-tile and 3-tile testing is in the works. It will take time.

    3 - Perhaps because there are companies looking for exactly that sort of solution. I guess we should only test situations where VMware performs optimally?

    4 - The source of the database is not so critical as the fact that it is a real-world database. Whether Johan uses a DB from,,, or some other source isn't particularly meaningful. It is a real setup used outside of benchmarking, and he had access to the site.

    I usually don't respond to trolls unless they are disgustingly stupid as well. I don't understand why you can't accept the fact that Nehalem isn't a panacea that fixes all the world's woes. That is backed by the world around us which continues to have all sorts of problems, and a "greener" CPU isn't going to save the environment any more than unplugging millions of cell phone charges that each consume 0.5W of power or less.

    AMD is certainly worth a *look* today. Will you actually end up purchasing AMD? That depends largely on your intended use. I have old Athlon 64/X2 systems that do everything that they need to do. For a small investment, you can build a much better AMD HTPC than Intel - mostly because the cheap Intel platform boards are garbage. I'd take a lesser CPU with a better motherboard any day over a top-end CPU with a crappy motherboard. If you want a system for less than $300, the motherboards alone would make me tend towards AMD.

    Of course, that completely misses the point that this isn't even remotely related to that market. Servers are in another realm, and features and support are critical. If you have a choice between AMD quad socket and Intel dual socket, and the price is the same, you might want the AMD solution. If you have existing hardware that can be upgraded to Shanghai without changing anything other than the CPU, you might want AMD. If you're buying new, you'd want to look at as much data as possible.

    Xeon X5570 still surpasses AMD in the initial tests by over 30%, which is not insignificant. If that extends to 50% or more in 2-tile and 3-tile setups, it's even more in Intel's favor. However, a 30% advantage is hardly out of line with the rest of the computing world. SYSmark 2007 shows the i7 965 beating the Phenom II 955 by 26.6%. Photoshop CS4 shows a 48.7% difference. DivX is 35.3%, xVid is 15.9% pass1 and 65.4% pass2, and WME9 is 25%. 3dsmax is 55.8%, CINEBENCH is 42%, and POV-ray is 65.3%.

    Which of those tests is a best indication of true potential for Core i7? Well, ALL OF THEM ARE! What's the best virtualization performance metric out there? Or the best server benchmark out there? They're ALL important and useful. vApus is just one more item to look at, and it still shows a good lead for Intel.

    Where is the 100% perf/watt boost compared to last generation? Well, it's in an application where i7 can stretch its eight threaded muscles. Compared to AMD, the performance/watt benefit for an entire system is more like 40% on servers. For QX9770, i7 965 is 32% more perf/watt in Cinebench, or 37.6% in Xvid. I doubt you can find a 100% increase in performance/watt without cherry-picking the benchmark and CPUs in question, but that's what you're already determined to do. That, my friend, is true bias - when you can't even admit that anything from the competition might be noteworthy, you are obviously wearing blinders.
  • Zstream - Thursday, May 21, 2009 - link

    Umm based on your two rants this means you have ZERO knowledge working with virtual desktops/terminal servers/virtual applications.

    I feel I need to make two corrections.

    One: ATI's die size is roughly 75% of Nvidia's, how do you conclude that Nvidia is better? Well honestly you can not because if you scale the performance and had the same die size of Nvidia, then ATI would be killing them.

    Second: Majority of enterprise's run AMD and Intel, in fact not till Neh. did Intel really come into the virtualization market.
  • tshen83 - Thursday, May 21, 2009 - link

    "Umm based on your two rants this means you have ZERO knowledge working with virtual desktops/terminal servers/virtual applications. "

    Really? Just how did you come up with this revelation?

    "One: ATI's die size is roughly 75% of Nvidia's, how do you conclude that Nvidia is better? Well honestly you can not because if you scale the performance and had the same die size of Nvidia, then ATI would be killing them. "

    You don't know shit about GPUs.

    "Second: Majority of enterprise's run AMD and Intel, in fact not till Neh. did Intel really come into the virtualization market. "

    True. That's what I am saying too, if you listened. I said, "no one should be considering AMD today because Nehalem is here".
  • Zstream - Thursday, May 21, 2009 - link

    I came to that conclusion based on your incoherent rants.

    Why would you say I do not know shit about GPU's? I provided you a fact, your illogical thinking does not change the matter. It comes down to die size and ATI wins performance/DIE. If you would like to argue that claim with then please do so.

    Who would consider Neh in todays market? Very few, unless you are a self proclaimed millionaire who crazily spends or needing the extra performance boost in some applications like exchange.
  • Viditor - Thursday, May 21, 2009 - link

    Guys, it's tshen...nobody over the age of 12 listens to his rants anyway, so don't feed the troll (or ban him if you can...).
  • leexgx - Thursday, May 21, 2009 - link

    LOL nice rant

    3dmark cant be used any more as its not an 3dmark any more its more like an 3d gpu/cpu mark the CPU can sway the total result

    AMD cpus have been using dedicated bus that talks to each other cpu socket and has direct access to the ram, allso AMD does have V-amd as well on all amd64 am2 cpus as well as optrons an (baring sempron)
  • Makaveli - Thursday, May 21, 2009 - link

    Ya what is the post all about.

    HardOCP killed the GPU market? I don't know about you but I never bought a videocard because of its 3dmark score. It's one benchmark that both companies cater to but is of little importance. Hardocp review method has much more valuable data for me than one benchmark.

    Let me ask you this when you are buying a car or anything of siginicant value. Do you not do your homework is one review being either positive or negative enough to drop your hard earned cash?

    If so Bestbuy is that way!

    As for the rest of your post the personal attacks and childish language cleary show your not even worth taking seriously. Sounds more like the ramblings of a Highschool child who is trying to get attention.

    Good day to you sir,

  • Zstream - Thursday, May 21, 2009 - link

    You have no idea what you are talking about. The benchmark software can be downloaded. It is not our fault you are to poor to pay for a product.

    The rest I have to say "LOL".
  • DeepThought86 - Thursday, May 21, 2009 - link

    Wow, just wow.

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