VMware taxes your virtual memory

The hidden cost of vSphere 5


The monster VM

With no 32-socket x64 servers on the horizon at the moment, and with AMD committed to a ceiling of four sockets with its impending 16-core "Interlagos" Opteron 6200 processors, VMware does not have to boost the scalability of the hypervisor in terms of the number of cores it can span. But it did have to boost the memory scalability to 2TB for the ESXi 5.0 hypervisor, which it has done.

Within the ESXi 5.0 hypervisor, a guest VM can now span up to 32 virtual CPUs (that's cores or threads if you have HyperThreading turned on). A guest VM can also address as much as 1TB of virtual memory, and virtual network bandwidth can be pushed as high as 36Gb/sec and virtual disk can be cranked up to 1 million IOPs. The ESXi 5.0 hypervisor supports disk drives that are larger than 2TB, and can host as many as 512 VMs on a single host (up from 320 on the prior 4.X hypervisors).

These figures, says Raghu Raghuram, general manager of virtualization and cloud platforms at VMware, were obtained on a heavily configured eight-socket x64 server. The main thing is that the VM can support just about any large physical workload out there.

The one thing that VMware is very careful to never talk about in all these years of server virtualization is what overhead ESX Server or ESXi subtract from the system as they virtualize CPU, memory, disk, and network capacity. The benefits of virtualization far outweigh that overhead butcher's bill, no doubt, but only a fool pretends it isn't there.

Price school

VMware has not yet put out the configuration maximum tech specs as it does for ESX releases, but you can see a snippet of some of the feeds and speeds on VMware's Facebook page and look at the configuration maximums for vSphere 4

It is not clear if the ESXi 5.0 hypervisor is ready to go on the impending "Sandy Bridge" Xeon E5 processors from Intel as well the forthcoming Opteron 6200 and 4200 chips. What Bogomil Balkansky, vice president of marketing at VMware, could say is that some servers using a variety of chips will be ready when the new hypervisor ships, while others may take a month or two to get certified. It is hard to believe that the functionality for supporting the forthcoming Xeon and Opteron chips is not in there, and in fact was not in beta test six months ago at the least.

To prepare customers for the price changes coming with the vSphere 5.0 stack, VMware has put together a licensing and pricing guide, which explains how the new pricing scheme works.

With prior releases of the VI3 and vSphere 4 stacks, each software bundle, called an edition, had a limited number of cores or virtual memory that they could address. The four lower-end vSphere bundles - Essentials, Essentials Plus, Standard, and Enterprise ­ were restricted to machines that had six or fewer cores per socket, and only the two high-end editions ­ Advanced and Enterprise Plus ­could be used on machines with six or more cores per socket.

All of the vSphere 4.X editions also had physical (not virtual) memory caps, too, set at 256GB of main memory, and only the Enterprise Plus edition could run on machines with 1TB of physical memory.


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