64-bit Linux: Ready for prime time?
Our tests of Opteron and Itanium servers show big performance gains today and promises of bigger gains to come
Accessible through its own Ethernet interface, and running a separate Linux kernel, the management blade can reboot the system, monitor system components, and inventory hardware and software on the system. A small LCD on the front of the Newisys box shows the status of the management system and allows control of its basic features. If the management processor is set to get an IP address from DHCP, the LCD shows what the address is, making the process of getting to the system the first time much easier.
Pulling up the rear in my Web server performance tests, but not far behind, was the Itanium-based HP Integrity Server rx2600, a 2U, enterprise-oriented server with lots of expandability and redundancy. My rx2600 came configured with dual 1GHz processors, 4GB of RAM, three hot-swap 36GB Ultra320 10K SCSI drives, a RAID controller, four Gigabit Ethernet ports, two 10/100 Ethernet ports, HP’s iLO (Integrated Lights-Out) management processor, dual hot-swap power supplies, hot-swappable fans, and Red Hat Enterprise Linux AS. This system will soon be shipping with the newest 1.3GHz and 1.5GHz flavors of Itanium; it’s also available with HP-UX or Windows Datacenter Server.
The management processor allows full access to the system, including the ability to perform BIOS upgrades, monitor all internal components, power the system on or off, reboot it, and inventory hardware and software. One slight negative: The rx2600 uses USB ports for keyboard and mouse, which could cause problems for datacenters with existing KVM-switch infrastructures.
To gauge the performance of these systems, I tested the loads the Apache and Zeus Web servers would support before bogging down, using RadView Software’s WebLoad 5 running on Ixia’s TXS4 Load Module to simulate up to 1,000 simultaneous users. I also ran the same Web servers on a dual Xeon 2.8GHz server to create a baseline. The table below shows the number of virtual clients that were required to generate round-trip times of over than five seconds with Zeus and over two seconds with Apache.
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With the Apache Web server, the Opterons showed a clear advantage. The HP Itanium system started producing long round-trip times at a load of fewer than 300 clients, while the Opterons were able to sustain loads above 800 with reasonable round-trip times. When running Apache, the Pogo Linux box performed the best among Opterons, followed by the Newisys and then the Appro, in spite of the Newisys having faster processors and more RAM.