Category Archives: Tech Talk

Whitebox conversation, and covering hardware topics.

nVidia GRID K2 vDGA with VMware Horizon View using PCoIP

Today I’d like to share a very interesting lab session with you all – the result will be a dedicated virtual machine with one of nVidia GRID K2’s GPU Cores enabled and accessed via Horizon View’s PCoIP protocol, where we’ll take a small look at its performance and parameters.

Prerequisites

You will not need much for this very basic VMware Horizon environment – a VM where either vDGA or vSGA is present and Horizon View Agent & Horizon View Agent Direct-Connection Plugin installed to allow you to connect to it via PCoIP.  You will be connecting to this VM via the VMware Horizon Client. Continue reading

Running 3DMark 2000 In a vSGA-Enabled Virtual Machine

Since I have made the vSGA feature to work in a Virtual Machine, I wanted to see how powerful will this rendering technology be. Sure, there is software that is dedicated to workstation performance benchmarks, but my mind has come around one application that was widely used to compare rigs (and it still is, although in a much newer version – FutureMark 3DMark 2013) It was MadOnion’s (love that company’s name) 3DMark 2000 and I remember running it countless times after swapping my 4MB Graphics Adapter for a 16MB nVIDIA TNT2 Ultra just to see the new, fluid FPS.

This post is a little nostalgy, sure, but seeing this benchmark run in a virtual environment, actually using a fraction of a GPU that is vastly superior to the PCI and AGP-powered adapters that  were available back then has evoked a smile on my face, and memories – oh the memories.

Anyways, without further ado I’d like to share the 3Dmark results with you – it is 1024×768 at 32bpp – nothing too fancy for today’s standards (and the most I could have squeezed off the settings). I didn’t expect an outright blast from the vSGA technology, mainly because the GPU  is being partitioned and also because of the fact that the maximum you can get is DirectX 9 and OpenGL 2.1.

3dmark2000-1

Wow, almost 30k 3DMarks, good job!

Although this may be viewed by many as a redundant thing to do – it’s these little things that brighten my profession occasionally 🙂 I’ll be digging around vSGA and vDGA in the coming weeks, so this is just a little taste of things to come.

Enabling vSGA on an nVidia GRID Powered ESXi Server

We have a new lab environment and were so lucky to have an nVidia GRID K2 included in one server for testing out its rendering capabilities under virtualized environment. When I had some time to play around I made a first step towards drawing the GRID’s power and deployed a VM that will be using a shared 3D acceleration method, also known as vSGA. Continue reading

HyperThreading: What is it and does it benefit ESXi?

Many times I come across the question of HyperThreading and its benefits – either in personal computing, but more importantly over the last few years, virtualization. I’d like to talk about what HyperThreading is for a moment, and show you if it benefits the virtualized environment.

What is HyperThreading?

Today, you see HyperThreadng (HT) technology is present on almost every Intel processor, be it Xeon or Core i3/i5/i7 Series. Basically, it splits one physical core to two logical cores, but the term splitting is somewhat inaccurate and confuses many consumers. Thinking that when they run a 2.5GHz 4-core, HyperThreaded CPU, they immediately have 8 effective cores carrying the full processing capability of 20 GHz. Mainly because when you say you split something, you think that this has been divided to two equal parts (or at least that’s what I think, anyways). Continue reading

How much memory should be free for VMkernel?

Recently I have made a small research to see how much free RAM does VMkernel need to work without any hiccups due to:

  • Memory Reclamation Techniques
  • Memory Reservation for the VMkernel itself

I have gathered this data from live environment. However one very important metric is not included in the below measures and graphs, and that is the Virtual Machine overhead that is individual for each environment and is dependant on the VMs’ Memory and vCPU amount.

A quick explanation:

  • RAM [GB]: How many Gigabytes of RAM are installed in the Server.
  • VMKernel [MB]: How many MB are reserved for the VMkernel itself (you can find this value in Configuration -> System Resources Tab).
  • Reclamation [MB]: Calculated with a Memory Reclamation Formula (900 MB + 1% of memory above 24GB).
  • Total [MB]: Sum of VMKernel & Reclamation values. This should be the governing baseline value.
  • Free [%]: How much % of the total server’s memory should be free.
RAM [GB] VMKernel [MB] Reclamation [MB] Total [MB] Free [%]
8 1393 900.0 2293.0 28.0
16 1749 900.0 2649.0 16.2
24 2378 900.0 3278.0 13.3
48 2682 1145.8 3827.8 7.8
64 2745 1309.6 4054.6 6.2
96 3514.5 1637.3 5151.8 5.2
128 3612 1965.0 5577.0 4.3
192 5218.5 2620.3 7838.8 4.0
384 8220 4586.4 12806.4 3.3
512 9985 5897.1 15882.1 3.0

And a graph is below:

Memory Reservation Graph

A Graph representing the GB Installed vs. MB reserved memory.

I hope this table comes in useful when deciding how much RAM there is in your environment for the hosts to use.

DELL Perc H710P Local Storage SSD RAID1 Benchmark

Recently we have equipped one of our ESXi hosts with local SSD storage (Product Number: LB806M) to host a database VM. For redundancy we have chosen RAID1. I have done a small benchmark to compare it to already present 4x 1,2TB 10k RPM (PN: ST1200MM0007) RAID10 array.

The RAID Controller serving the drives was DELL Perc H710P Mini (Dual processor, 1GB DDR3 NV Cache). I have used the IOmeter application with Access Specification File from my favorite tech-news aggregate site, TechPowerUp. I have run the test on a 1GB Chunk of data. Without further ado, here are the results (click on an image to enlarge):

Throughput Benchmark

Throughput Benchmark

IOPs Benchmark

IOPs Benchmark

Latency Benchmark

Latency Benchmark

Also, I’ve captured a few interesting screenshots from esxtop over the course of benchmarks. Notice that the controller doesn’t even break a sweat under that many IOPS:

Installing the Windows VM for benchmarking

Installing the Windows VM for benchmarking

Database Benchmark on the Mechanical Hard DRive and SSD running simultaneously.

Database Benchmark on the Mechanical Hard DRive and SSD running simultaneously.

Nice IOPS :)

Nice IOPS 🙂

Sequential Read Benchmark - the Controller Cache comes into play.

Sequential Read Benchmark – the Controller Cache comes into play.

Hope you enjoyed the numbers. See you around.

Create a Virtual Floppy with OSFmount utility

In the life of an IT administrator, you sometimes (or quite frequently) need to use the means of .iso files or .img virtual floppies to do your part of the job. There are many tools available on the web, but one that I really like is OSFmount, and I will show you why.

OSFmount is a handly little utility that lets you mount (even as a ramdisk) and modify the contents of virtual floppy images. Unfortunately .iso can be mounted only as a read-only media. I’ll show you how to make an empty floppy from scratch – you can follow the same steps to make an .iso

When you launch the application for the first time, an initial window shows up. Click on Mount New…

mountnew

You will see the following form pop up. Fill in the values as you require – keep the offset at 0 as we are creating a brand new image, and choose the drive size you’d like. Since we are creating a floppy, choose the mountpoint so – but you can mount it as hard drive or CD/DVD. Assume that the Image File location is blank at the moment and click the three dots to define the image’s location.

mountnewdrive

Enter the name of your desired image file – doesn’t matter if the object already exists or not, just hit Open and Windows will ask you if you want to create the file.

createfile

Now, the newly created image isn’t formatted, so right-click the newly mounted .img and do that.

defaultformat

And there you go! You just created a 10MB virtual floppy .img file for yourself, which you can use on remote management consoles where you need an attachable media you can R/W to. Don’t forget to unmount before you start using it. Pretty simple, right?