Memory Deep Dive Series

Processor speed and core counts are important factors when designing a new server platform. However with virtualization platforms, the memory subsystem can have equal or sometimes even have a greater impact on application performance than the processor speed.

During my last trip I spend a lot talking about server configurations with customers. vSphere 5.5 update 2 supports up to 6 TB and vSphere 6.0 will support up to 12TB per server. All this memory can be leveraged for Virtual Machine memory and if you run FVP, Distributed Fault Tolerant Memory. With the possibility of creating high-density memory configurations, care must be taken when spec’ing the server. The availability of DIMM slots does not automatically mean expandability. Especially when you want to expand the current memory configuration.

The CPU type and generation impacts the memory configuration and when deciding on a new server spec you get a wide variety of options presented. Memory Channels, Memory bus frequency, ranking, DIMM type are just a selection of options you encounter. DIMM type, the number of DIMMs used and how the DIMMs are populated on the server board impact performance and supported maximal memory capacity.

In this short series of blog posts, I attempt to provide a primer on memory tech and how it impacts scalability.

Part 1: Memory Deep Dive Intro
Part 2: Memory subsystem Organisation
Part 3: Memory Subsystem Bandwidth
Part 4: Optimizing for Performance
Part 5: DDR4 Memory
Part 6: NUMA Architecture and Data Locality
Part 7: Memory Deep Dive Summary

Frank Denneman

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