[vworld-tech] Big Tin?

Brian Crowder crowder at fiverocks.com
Sun Apr 4 19:08:38 PDT 2004

We toyed with 4-way and 8-way SPARCs (and I believe 4- and 8- Pentium 
hardware) on UO for a while.  My feeling was that the cost of the 
hardware far outstripped the its actual value in solving the sorts of 
performance issues we ran into.  We switched to dual-CPU Dell 1U 
pizza-boxes and never went back, as far as I know (haven't any clue what 
they run now, but I doubt it's much different).

Your mileage will certainly vary dependent upon the architecture of your 
server clusters, but I think there are a lot of ways to solve scaling 
and performance issues without resorting to huge machines.  Typically, 
the value of switching to a mainframe architecture like that is in 
resolving task communication issues (Sun and IBM both offer powerful 
crossbar bussing options that simply aren't available on PC 
architectures) -- issues that I believe can be resolved by other means 
(like determining what you -really- need to communicate about and 
restricting information sharing sanely, or making game design decisions 
that reduce IPC without a great deal of visibility to your players ... 
maybe you don't -need- seamless server boundaries, or maybe you don't 
need all .5MB of data to "shadow" an entity to another server so that it 
can be interacted with).

This massive hardware costs money...  lots of money to buy, a fair 
amount of money to maintain (you might have to pay maintenance on the 
OS, too...  and some OS vendors like to charge for a license per CPU), 
and lots of money to rent rack-space for.  If you can find a physically 
(and financially) smaller solution, I'd suggest you do it.  I don't know 
if the costs on these massive machines have started to scale better 
recently, but if the hardware costs twice as much, and you can only 
serve an additional 50% players per CPU, it simply isn't worth it.  It 
probably isn't even worth it for 100% more players per CPU.  For a 300% 
improvement?  Maybe.  :)

-- Brian Crowder

Ren Reynolds wrote:

> This terranova thread
> (terranova.blogs.com/terra_nova/2004/04/whats_in_a_shar.html) has
> started to get into the option of using mainframe type hardware to run
> either a single massive world or multiple shards - rather than medium
> servers of the many 1Us that Cory of 2L has got into. Using big tin is
> fine in principle, if it does what is says on the label, but does anyone
> here actually have experience of running a V World on things like IBMs
> zSeries?
> As I noted over on TN I almost used this type of technology but that was
> for insanely boring application like accounting ZZZzzzZZzzzz
> Ren
> www.renreynolds.com
> terranova.blogs.com 
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