Cisco, Cluster on Die, and the E5-2600v3

I was in a meeting where someone noted that VMware does not support the Cluster on Die feature of the new Intel Haswell E5-2600v3 processors.  The question came: “What performance degradation do we get by not having this supported?  And would it be better to instead use the M3 servers”

This information they got from Cisco’s whitepaper on recommended BIOS settings for the new B200 M4, C240 M4, and C220 M4 servers.

The snarky answer is: You’re asking the wrong question.  The nice answer is: “M4 will give better performance than M3”.

Let’s understand a few things.

1.  Cluster on Die (CoD) is a new feature.  It wasn’t in the previous v2 processors.  So assuming all things equal, running the v3 without it just means that you don’t get whatever increased ‘goodness’ it will provide.

2.  Understand what CoD does.   This article does a good job pointing out what it does.  Look at it this way:  As each socket gets more and more cores in each iteration of Intel’s new chips, you have a lot of cores looking into the same memory bank.  It starts making it so latency goes up to find the correct data.  CoD carves up the regions so data to the cores stay somewhat more coherent.  Almost like giving each core its own bank of cache and memory.  This helps the latency go down as more cores are added.

To sum it up:  If I have a C240 M3 with 12 cores per processor and I compare it to a C240 M4 with 12 cores per processor with CoD disabled, then I still have the same memory contention problem with the M4 cores that I did with the M3s.  When VMware eventually supports CoD, then you just get a speed enhancement.

 

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