I aim to keep this post reasonably quick, because I’ve lost enough time to this issue already and I want to get some other posts written up soon, but this is one of those things that I should probably help raise awareness of. I foresee that this could become more of an issue in future if take-up for Native Boot from VHD solutions rises, or as people run demos from bootable removable media, etc.
Drum roll please! At long last, I bring you the results of a great deal of testing. Here’s the background:
- SharePoint Development Productivity and Virtualisation Technologies
- SharePoint 2010 Development Environment Performance Tests
I’ve said my preamble in those posts, so I’ll cut to the chase here.
As I indicated in my last post, I’ve been plundering the depths of SharePoint development productivity in recent months. Understanding the context established in that post is pretty essential to understanding what follows here. In a nutshell, I’m trying to improve system performance for current users of our SharePoint development environment. This is not as simple as examining the Windows Experience Index on a number of laptop models. I needed to consult with our users to identify which tasks are slow for them and devise tests that would allow me to measure system performance on different physical and virtual systems. In this post I will describe the systems, the tests and the testing process before reviewing the results.
The 21 tests that we settled on were the result of discussions with a number of the core developers, consultants and architects at Content and Code, plus a few tests that I threw in to confirm/disconfirm some of my suppositions, such as the impact of the User Profile Service Connection on first page load time. All 21 tests were run three times for each permutation of hardware candidate and virtualisation technology. We also tested on Amazon EC2. I will discuss the testing process in more detail in a moment.
Recently we’ve been considering a hardware refresh for our developer/consultant/architect laptop build (on Windows Server 2008 R2 Standard with Hyper-V). After a fair amount of deliberation we decided to pilot a new model but stumbled massively at the first hurdle: when we enabled the Hyper-V role on a new Dell Latitude E6410 we got a blue screen. Further testing revealed that the graphics driver was at fault and the SVGA driver worked fine. However, the SVGA driver only has single monitor support. Back to the drawing board.
- It’s not an issue on processors with SLAT, but these are only just hitting the market in laptops in the near future
- It’s not an issue with the SVGA driver
- I’ve asked if the SVGA driver might ever offer multi-monitor support. He’s looking in to it. This might be a great compromise until processors with SLAT become ubiquitous
- This same problem occurs in all native Hypervisors
- Virtual PC and VMWare Workstation do not have the same problem but they are Type 2 hypervisors and do not offer the same performance as Hyper-V
So… there’s still no conclusive solution but it’s good to have the full context of the problem. For more background on why this matters for SharePoint see my previous post on the matter.
Dell announced today that they are releasing Alienware and Studio laptops with Intel Core i7 processors. Why is this worth regurgitating? The Core i7 processors feature the Nehalem processor microarchitecture, which means that Hyper-V V2 (in Windows Server 2008 R2) can take advantage of SLAT (Second Level Address Translation). SLAT is implemented as EPT (Extended Paging Tables) in Intel technology and NPT (Nested Paging Tables) for AMD. Here’s Microsoft’s summary of the new Hyper-V support for SLAT: Continue reading “Hyper-V graphics performance is on the way… if you need a new laptop”