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Intel and VMware Deliver Reliability

Intel and VMware Deliver Reliability

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Published by readwriteweb
Reliability is a huge factor in choosing a server to host virtualized business-critical applications. If a RAM error brings your entire server to a halt, all the applications on it stop functioning. Principled Technologies loaded an Intel® Xeon® processor E7-4870 based server running VMware® vSphere
Reliability is a huge factor in choosing a server to host virtualized business-critical applications. If a RAM error brings your entire server to a halt, all the applications on it stop functioning. Principled Technologies loaded an Intel® Xeon® processor E7-4870 based server running VMware® vSphere

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Published by: readwriteweb on Sep 16, 2011
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09/27/2011

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INTEL XEON PROCESSOR E7 BASED SERVERS AND VMWARE VSPHERE:ISOLATING THE EFFECTS OF RAM ERRORS ON VIRTUALIZEDBUSINESS-CRITICAL APPLICATIONS
JUNE 2011
A PRINCIPLED TECHNOLOGIES TEST REPORT
Commissioned by Intel Corp.
Reliability is a huge factor in choosing a server to host virtualized business-criticalapplications. If a RAM error brings your entire server to a halt, all the applications on it stopfunctioning. Principled Technologies loaded an Intel® Xeon® processor E7-4870 based serverrunning VMware® vSphere
5.0 with 12 virtual machines (VMs). We then injected a memoryerror that affected one of the VMs.In our hands-on tests, the results backed up the claims. By taking advantage of MachineCheck Architecture (MCA) recovery, a feature of the Intel® Xeon® processor E7 family, the serverkeeps running. Only the single VM with the simulated memory error fails; the underlyinghypervisor and the remaining 11 VMs continue unharmed. In addition, the hypervisor retires thememory space that contains the fault. VMware vCenter then could gracefully restart the VM,delivering timely recovery of service without user intervention. When we repeated the test onseveral other VMs, the results were the same: The system continued to operate.The Intel Xeon processor E7-4870-based server running VMware vSphere 5.0 confined theproblem to a single VM and let the others keep going.
 
 A Principled Technologies test report
2
 Intel Xeon Processor E7 based servers and VMware vSphere:Isolating the effects of RAM errors on virtualized business-criticalapplications
RELIABILITY, AVAILABILITY, AND SERVICEABILITY
The reliability, availability, and serviceability (RAS) features of aserver are crucial to the smooth operation of your business when hostingcritical business applications and services.Reliability means the system has features that help it avoid anddetect errors, availability relates to the amount of downtime a systemhas due to the errors, and serviceability is how the solution handles failed(or potentially failed) components
either proactively or retroactively.MCA recovery lets the hypervisor or underlying operating systemrecover from memory errors that cannot be corrected at the hardwarelevel. MCA recovery technology detects an error and reports it to thehypervisor or OS, which takes the appropriate action
fixing the errorwhen possible or quarantining the bad memory to prevent it fromcontinuing to corrupt data.Enabling MCA recovery, as we did when we tested the Intel Xeonprocessor E7-4870-based server running VMware vSphere 5.0, allowedthe system to detect the error and shut down the affected VM whilekeeping the other VMs on the server up and running. VMware vCentercould then restart the affected VM without issue as the hypervisor hadretired the memory.
WHAT HAPPENED WHEN WE INJECTED A FAULT?
Because memory errors can cause system crashes, we tested the RASfeatures of our Intel Xeon processor E7-4870-based server runningVMware vSphere 5.0 by injecting a fault directly into the memory of oneVM and watching what happened.Due to the advanced RAS features of the Intel Xeon processor E7-4870 and VMware vSphere 5.0, the memory error we introduced did notcause the server to go down. Only the VM with the memory fault failed;the fault did not affect the hypervisor or the other 11 VMs.
The memoryerrors weintroduced didnot cause theserver to godown.
 
 
 A Principled Technologies test report
3
 Intel Xeon Processor E7 based servers and VMware vSphere:Isolating the effects of RAM errors on virtualized business-criticalapplicationsTo be sure that the server and VM behavior we observed wasrepeatable, we injected the memory fault 12 different times into 12different VMs. Each time, only the VM with the memory fault shut down. 
SUMMARY
When we injected a fault into the memory of one virtual machine onan Intel Xeon processor E7-4870-based server running VMware vSphere5.0,
 
MCA recovery feature allowed the hypervisor and allthe other virtual machines to keep running.
 
In addition, the hypervisorretired the memory space that contained the fault, which let VMwarevCenter gracefully restart the VM.

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