Control Management and performance feedback
Powering and cooling are a substantial portion of datacenter costs. Ideally, we could minimize these costs by optimizing the datacenter’s energy consumption without impacting performance. The Host Power Management feature, which has been enabled by default since ESXi 5.0, allows hosts to reduce power consumption while boosting energy efficiency by putting processors into a low-power state when not fully utilized.
Power management can be controlled by the either the BIOS or the operating system. In the BIOS, manufacturers provide several types of Host Power Management policies. Although they vary by vendor, most include “Performance, ” which does not use any power saving techniques, “Balanced, ” which claims to increase energy efficiency with minimal or no impact to performance, and “OS Controlled, ” which passes power management control to the operating system. The “Balanced” policy is variably known as “Performance per Watt, ” “Dynamic” and other labels; consult your vendor for details. If “OS Controlled” is enabled in the BIOS, ESXi will manage power using one of the policies “High performance, ” “Balanced, ” “Low power, ” or “Custom.” We chose to study Balanced because it is the default setting.
But can the Balanced setting, whether controlled by the BIOS or ESXi, reduce performance relative to the Performance setting? We have received reports from customers who have had performance problems while using the BIOS-controlled Balanced setting. Without knowing the effect of Balanced on performance and energy efficiency, when performance is at a premium users might select the Performance policy to play it safe. To answer this question we tested the impact of power management policies on performance and energy efficiency using VMmark 2.5.
VMmark 2.5 is a multi-host virtualization benchmark that uses varied application workloads as well as common datacenter operations to model the demands of the datacenter. VMs running diverse application workloads are grouped into units of load called tiles. For more details, see the VMmark 2.5 overview.
We tested three policies: the BIOS-controlled Performance setting, which uses no power management techniques, the ESXi-controlled Balanced setting (with the BIOS set to OS-Controlled mode), and the BIOS-controlled Balanced setting. The ESXi Balanced and BIOS-controlled Balanced settings cut power by reducing processor frequency and voltage among other power saving techniques.
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