(UPDATED) Best Blade Server for VMware Is…

(Updated to include links to results)

I’ve had a few questions lately about “the best” blade server to use for virtualization – specifically VMware virtualization. While the obvious answer is “it depends”, I thought it would be an interesting approach to identify the blade servers that ranked in the top 5 in VMware’s VMmark benchmark.  Before I begin, let me explain what the VMmark testing is about.   VMmark enables equipment manufacturers, software vendors, system integrators and other organizations to:

  • Measure virtual machine performance accurately and reliably
  • Determine the performance of different hardware and virtualization platforms
  • Make appropriate hardware decisions for your virtual infrastructure

VMware developed VMmark as a standard methodology for comparing virtualized systems. According to VMware’s VMmark website, the benchmark system in VMmark is comprised of a series of “sub-tests” that are derived from commonly used load-generation tools, as well as from benchmarks developed by the Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC®). In parallel to VMmark, VMware is a member of the SPEC Virtualization subcommittee and is working with other SPEC members to create the next generation virtualization benchmark.

In testing the terms, a “tile” is simply a collection of virtual machines (VM’s) that are executing a set of diverse workloads designed to represent a natural work environment.   The total number of tiles that a server can handle provides a detailed measurement of that server’s consolidation capacity.  The more tiles, the better.  The faster the performance, the better.

THE RESULTS (as of 6/2/2010)…click on the link to open the details

24 Cores (4 Sockets)
HP ProLiant BL685c G6 (Six Core AMD Opteron 8435) running VMware ESX v4.0 – 29.19@20 tiles (published 7/14/2009)
HP ProLiant BL680c G5 (Six Core Intel Xeon E7458) running VMware ESX v3.5.0 Update 3 – 18.64@14 tiles (published 3/30/2009)

16 Cores (4 Sockets)
Dell PowerEdge M905 (Four Core AMD Opteron 8393 SE) running VMware ESX v4.0 – 22.90@17 tiles (published 6/19/2009)
HP ProLiant BL685 G6 (Four Core AMD Opteron 8389) running VMware ESX v4.0 – 20.87@14 tiles (published 4/24/2009)

12 Cores (2 Sockets)
Cisco UCS B250 M2 (Six Core Intel Xeon X5680) running VMware ESX v4.0 Update 1 – 35.83@26 tiles (published 4/6/2010)
Fujitsu BX922 S2 (Six Core Intel Xeon X5680) running VMware ESX v4.0 Update 1 – 32.89@24 tiles (published 4/6/2010)

8 Cores (2 Sockets)
Fujitsu BX922 S2 (Four Core Intel Xeon X5677) running VMware ESX v4.0 Update 1 – 27.99@18tiles(published 5/10/2010)
HP ProLiant BL490c G6 (Four Core Intel Xeon X5570) runningVMware ESX v4.0 – 25.27@17tiles (published 4/20/2010)

Cisco UCS B250 M2
running VMware ESX v4.0 Update 1 – 35.83 with 26 tiles

Cisco’s Winning Configuration
So – how did Cisco reach the top server spot?  Here’s the configuration:

server config:

  • 2 x Intel Xeon X5680 Processors
  • 192GB of RAM (48 x 4GB)
  • 1 x Converged Network Adapter (Cisco UCS VIC M81KR)

storage config:

  • EMC CX4-240
  • Cisco MDS 9134
  • 1173.48GB Used Disk Space
  • 1024MB Array Cache
  • 50 disks used on 5 enclosures/shelves (1 with 14 disk, 4 with 9 disks)
  • 55 LUNs used
    *21 at 38GB (file server + mail server) over 20 x 73GB SSDs
    *5 at 38GB (file server + mail server) over 20 x 73GB SSDs
    *21 at 15GB (database) + 2 LUNs at 400GB (Standby, Webserver, Javaserver) over 16 x 450GB 15k disks
    *5 at 15GB (database)  over 16 x 450GB 15k disks
    * 1 LUN at 20GB (boot) over 5 x 300GB 15k disks
  • RAID 0 for VMs, RAID 5 for VMware ESX 4.0 O/S

As you can see from the information above, the Cisco UCS B250 M2 is the clear winner above all of the blade server offerings.  As you can see, none of the Xeon 7500 blade servers have yet to be tested but when they do, I’ll be sure to let you know.