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Summary of Key Findings

This section summarizes z/VM 5.3 performance with links that take you to more detailed information.

z/VM 5.3 includes a number of performance-related changes -- performance improvements, performance considerations, and changes that affect VM performance management.

Regression measurements comparing z/VM 5.3 back to z/VM 5.2 showed the following:

  1. Workloads and configurations that significantly exercise one or more of the z/VM 5.3 performance improvements generally showed improved performance in terms of reduced CPU usage and higher throughput. These cases are:
    1. systems that have more than 2 GB of real memory and do paging
    2. systems that heavily use 6 or more real processors
    3. workloads that make extensive use of VM guest LAN QDIO simulation
    4. workloads that do an extensive amount of SCSI DASD I/O
  2. All other measured workloads tended to experience somewhat reduced performance. CPU usage increases ranged from 1% to 5%.

Improved Real Storage Scalability: z/VM 5.3 includes several important enhancements to CP storage management: Page management blocks (PGMBKs) can now reside above the real storage 2G line, contiguous frame management has been further improved, and fast available list searching has been implemented. These improvements collectively resulted in improved performance in storage-constrained environments (throughput increased from 10.3% to 21.6% for example configurations), greatly increased the amount of in-use virtual storage that z/VM can support, and allowed the maximum real storage size supported by z/VM to be increased from 128 GB to 256 GB.

Memory Management: VMRM-CMM and CMMA: VM Resource Manager Cooperative Memory Management (VMRM-CMM) and Collaborative Memory Management Assist (CMMA) are two different approaches to enhancing the management of real storage in a z/VM system by the exchange of information between one or more Linux guests and CP. Performance improvements were observed when VMRM-CMM, CMMA, or the combination of VMRM-CMM and CMMA were enabled on the system. At lower memory over-commitment ratios, all three algorithms provided similar benefits. For the workload and configuration chosen for this study, CMMA provided the most benefit at higher memory over-commitment ratios.

Improved Processor Scalability: With z/VM 5.3, up to 32 CPUs are supported with a single VM image. Prior to this release, z/VM supported up to 24 CPUs. In addition to functional changes that enable z/VM 5.3 to run with more processors configured, a new locking infrastructure has been introduced that improves system efficiency for large n-way configurations. An evaluation study that looked at 6-way and higher configurations showed z/VM 5.3 requiring less CPU usage and achieving higher throughputs than z/VM 5.2 for all measured configurations, with the amount of improvement being much more substantial at larger n-way configurations. With a 24-way LPAR configuration, a 19% throughput improvement was observed.

Diagnose X'9C' Support: z/VM 5.3 includes support for diagnose X'9C' -- a new protocol for guest operating systems to notify CP about spin lock situations. It is similar to diagnose X'44' but allows specification of a target virtual processor. Diagnose X'9C' provided a 2% to 12% throughput improvement over diagnose X'44' for various measured Linux guest configurations having processor contention. No benefit is expected in configurations without processor contention.

Specialty Engine Support: Guest support is provided for virtual CPU types of zAAP (IBM System z Application Assist Processors), zIIP ( IBM z9 Integrated Information Processors), and IFL (Integrated Facilities for Linux) processors, in addition to general purpose CPs (Central Processors). These types of virtual processors can be defined for a z/VM user by issuing the DEFINE CPU command or placing the DEFINE CPU command in the directory. The system administrator can issue the SET CPUAFFINITY command to specify whether z/VM should dispatch a user's specialty CPUs on real CPUs that match their types (if available) or simulate them on real CPs. On system configurations where the CPs and specialty engines are the same speed, performance results are similar whether dispatched on specialty engines or simulated on CPs. On system configurations where the specialty engines are faster than CPs, performance results are better when using the faster specialty engines and scale correctly based on the relative processor speed. CP monitor data and Performance Toolkit for VM both provide information relative to the specialty engines.

HyperPAV Support: In z/VM 5.3, the Control Program (CP) can use the HyperPAV feature of the IBM System Storage DS8000 line of storage controllers. The HyperPAV feature is similar to IBM's PAV (Parallel Access Volumes) feature in that HyperPAV offers the host system more than one device number for a volume, thereby enabling per-volume I/O concurrency. Further, z/VM's use of HyperPAV is like its use of PAV: the support is for ECKD disks only, the bases and aliases must all be ATTACHed to SYSTEM, and only guest minidisk I/O or I/O provoked by guest actions (such as MDC full-track reads) is parallelized. Measurement results show that HyperPAV aliases match the performance of classic PAV aliases. However, HyperPAV aliases require different management and tuning techniques than classic PAV aliases did.

Virtual Switch Link Aggregation: Link aggregation is designed to allow you to combine multiple physical OSA-Express2 ports into a single logical link for increased bandwidth and for nondisruptive failover in the event that a port becomes unavailable. Having the ability to add additional cards can result in increased throughput, particularly when the OSA card is being fully utilized. Measurement results show throughput increases ranging from 6% to 15% for a low-utilization OSA card and throughput increases from 84% to 100% for a high-utilization OSA card, as well as reductions in CPU time ranging from 0% to 22%.

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