Point and Shoot Sizing: Sun VDI 3.1, Sun VirtualBox 3.0.12, Sun Fire X4170

Although we have just released the 3.1, we are very busy these days. We had planned to do some sizing of the virtualization and storage layer, but there is simply not enough time to do it right now.

However, we have done a 'Point and Shot' sizing for the X4170 running VBox 3.0.12 under Sun VDI 3.1. We have taken an X4170 and wanted to understand how many VMs can be executed with a defined workload. The workload has actually been the same as with previous load tests. You find the definition in the VDI 3.1 deployment guide: http://wikis.sun.com/display/VDI3dot1/Deployment+Guide

The exact setup has been:
  • 3 VDI core server managing 1 VBox host (X4170) connected to a 7210 Open Storage.
  • X4170: 2 CPU (2.5 GHZ), 32GB RAM
We had 2 test runs:
  1. Image Win XP SP2, 512 MB, 12 MB Video RAM: Goal: Start as many VMs as possible and continuously execute Office workload
  2. Image Win XP SP2, 256 MB, 12 MB Video RAM: see above
Results for test run 1:
  • 48 VMs running, executing load, tests showed that VMs are responsive (connecting with the console to selectedVMs)
  • Memory consumption: 96% or 31GB
  • CPU consumption: 40-50%
Results for test run 2:
  • 95 VMs running, executing load, Tests showed that VMs are responsive (connecting with the console to selected VMs)
  • Memory consumption: 97% 31,3 GB
  • CPU consumption: 50-80%
Observations:
  • The Nehalem CPU in combination with VBox 3.0.12 has much better performance. 12 VMs per physical core seems possible for modest Office work still leaving some CPU headroom.
  • The memory overhead of VBox is closer to 20%. In previous tests we have calculated 10%. Plus roughly 1 GB for the OS.

Although this was just a 'Point and Shot' sizing it has a clear message:
The economics are way different with the Nehalem CPU. A 10VM per physical core seems to be a good and conservative starting point, when customer workloads are unknown. An X4170 (2 CPU, 64-72 GB RAM) seems to be an ideal platform to host 80+ desktops of 512MB memory. Going over the 72GB memory limit will require to use 8GB DDRs which are way more expensive.

We will continue sizing once we are less busy. Stay tuned,

-Dirk
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