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Meltdown & Spectre: Taming The Beasts

The impact of Meltdown and Spectre patches on Windows 10

Testing with Login VSI to Solve the Problems Caused by Meltdown & Spectre

Over the last weeks a lot has already been written about the supposedly high impact that the patches of both Meltdown and Spectre will have on the performance of computer systems but even experts do not yet agree how big the impact will be on centralized desktop environments such as Microsoft RDS, Citrix XenApp & XenDesktop and of course VMware Horizon causing a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt.

As Login VSI is considered the Industry standard test for these platforms my mailbox, twitter stream and our company support inbox quickly filled up with requests asking us to share our insights, so we have decided to do just that. However, please keep in mind that results may vary depending on the hardware and software that you use.

I’ll outline these results in a series of articles, starting with this one describing our test-infrastructure and the results of the first performance tests with Windows 10.

VSImax and VSIbase Show the Impact of Test Results

To fully understand the conclusions a basic understanding of the VSImax and VSIbase is recommended, please check the Login VSI documentation if you are not familiar with these numbers.

VSImax = The number of users that can work on a system comfortably before performance is impacted (scale). Higher is better.

VSIbase = The performance of the system when there is little or no stress. If this number increases overall performance decreases. Lower is better.

Physical Infrastructure VSImax VSIbase
Standard Windows 10    
Windows 10 without hotfix 129,8 891,5
Windows 10 with KB4056892 121,8 (-6%) 934,6 (+4,6%)
     
Standard Windows 10 Perormance tuned with VMware OSOT    
Windows 10 without hotfix + performance tuning 142,6 866,6
Windows 10 with KB4056892 + performance tuning 138 (-3%) 904,5 (+4,4%)

These tests show that the impact of Microsoft hotfix KB4056892 is measurable but not extreme. This is as expected as the hypervisor and firmware update of the CPU microcode have not been applied yet.

Reducing Human Error with our VDILIKEAPRO Test Lab

Automate, Automate, automate. In our VDILIKEAPRO test lab we have minimized human interaction (and thus error) by making sure all processes are executed fully automatic for example the base images are created using the Microsoft Deployment Toolkit where after PowerShell magic (thanks Henk & Sonny!) takes over and automatically clones the VM’s 180 times, prepares them for use, and runs 10 automated test cycles results are then averaged ignoring the first run.

  Login VSI Laboratories - Meltdown and Spectre

 

Physical Infrastructure
4x Dell R630:
  • 2x Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-2620 v3 @ 2.40GHz
  • 196GB
  • Local SSD storage
3x Dell PowerEdge R730:
  • 24 CPUs x Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-2670 v3 @ 2.30GHz
  • 384GB
  • XenServer 7.2 (2017-05-11)
  • Local SSD storage
Virtual Infrastructure
12x Launcher virtual machine:
  • 2 vCPU
  • 4GB Memory
  • Windows 10
  •  
180x virtual desktop on:
  • 2vCPU
  • 2GB Memory
  • Windows 10
1x VSIshare (Fileserver):
  • 2 vCPU
  • 4 GB Memory
  • Windows Server Core 2016
Software:
  • Login VSI 4.1.25
  • Microsoft Office 2016

Next up: VDI Tests with Windows 7

Tests with Windows 7, the most popular operating system in VDI, are currently on the way and based on the customer data we’ve already seen, I expect the impact on performance will be bigger.

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About the company Login VSI

The company Login VSI provides end-user performance insights for virtualized desktop and server-based computing environments. Enterprise IT departments use flagship product Login VSI (for load testing) and Login PI (for continuity testing) in all phases of their virtual desktop deployment—from planning to deployment to change management—to build and safeguard a good performance, a high availability, and (as a result) a good and consistent end-user experience. For more information about Login VSI or for a free test license contact us.

About the author

Jasper Geelen (@jaspergeelen) has a background in ICT and joined Login VSI as a pre-sales engineer in 2015. He loves drinking a lot of coffee (some might call him an addict). In his spare time, Jasper enjoys a beer and he is part of a football / soccer team. He also coaches a team of younger football players.


Tags: Login VSI, VSImax, Spectre, Meltdown, VSIbase

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