It would be interesting to know if others have experienced similar results like the following and what their thoughts are…
With all the “buzz” about VMware finally catching up with Citrix and supporting vGPU, I wanted to see the performance differences between the 2 latest Hypervisors as I had heard that the ESXi 6 3D experience was better than XenServer 6.5 SP1. VMware is widely recognized as the industry leading Hypervisor, but for all the extra features and (alleged) performance, you pay a substantial premium over the others, so I’ve always used XenServer which has done exactly what has been requested of it and performed fantastically at a price point to please all the accountants. However, it’s always good to investigate other solutions, so with this in mind, I trashed my perfectly good XenServer 6.5 SP1 3D demo platform and rebuilt it with ESXi 6. The build is exactly the same as it was on XenServer, the only change in the technology stack is the Hypervisor, so after all the work of rebuilding the platform, vCenter, Gold images etc etc, imagine my surprise when XenServer out performs ESXi on every 3D demo I run. Whether the 3D desktop is Windows 7, 8.1 or 10, running it on XenServer shows higher benchmarks than ESXi. I know that these are just generic 3D apps and that you shouldn’t base the entire platforms performance on some irrelevant scores and that settings have to be tailored to the specific apps that are actually going to be run, but it just seems strange that they all (so far) favour XenServer. As there is so much more cost associated with ESXi, I would have thought it should perform better than its rival.
I’m running the desktops with GPU Passthrough / vDGA.
At this point, I should say a little about the technology stack in-case I’m over looking something, so it’s as follows:
Chassis: Dell R720 (latest firmware, Drivers, BIOS etc)
CPU: 2x 2.6Ghz 8 Core
Storage: 2x 15k SAS RAID 1 (Hypervisor)
Storage: 5x 15k SAS RAID 5 (Gold Images, Virtual Appliances)
Storage: Atlantis ILIO Diskless VDI (Runs from the RAID 5 - 2vCPU / 128GB RAM)
GPU: NVIDIA GRID K2
Network: 1Gb to desk (hard wired throughout, no WiFi for this test)
Software: XenDesktop 7.6 FP2 Platinum (MCS to ILIO)
Desktop Policies: Only base security, no other policies.
I have a separate server that has all my other services on it (AD, Controller, vCenter etc etc) but this has not been rebuilt and runs on XenServer.
The performance isn’t hugely different visually, but when looking at the benchmarks on (for example) Unigine Valley / Heaven, Redway Turbine etc, the results always favour the desktops delivered by XenServer, and to be honest, I really didn’t think this would be the case.
Has anyone else experienced this? Or is there something I’ve missed in ESXi that’s going to unleash the rest of the performance that I should have enabled or disabled?
Any thoughts, comments or experiences about the 2 technologies welcomed… and this isn’t a VMware bashing thread (far from it), I just haven’t seen anyone do a direct comparison of 3D performance between the pair.