Nitrado Increases Online Game Instance Density

Intel® Optane™ DC persistent memory transforms the online gaming world and boosts data center efficiency.

Nitrado is one of the leading providers of game servers and application hosting services. In collaboration with Intel, Nitrado now offers its business customers and end customers the benefits of Intel® Optane™ DC persistent memory. This is an important step in revolutionizing storage capacity for game developers and publishing studios, as well as ensuring Nitrado's customers continue to enjoy low and stable prices with good performance.

Challenge
The complex worlds of today's games place ever-increasing demands on the memory capacity of online gaming servers. At the same time, modern Intel® processors have extraordinary computing capacity. In typical gaming server configurations, the memory capacity is reached long before the processor is under strain. Nitrado wanted to increase CPU utilization and game instance density, but the solution would have to be affordable and be able to maintain the excellent gaming experience Nitrado's customers expect.

Solution
Intel Optane DC persistent memory provides a flexible, high-performance and cost-effective expansion of system memory. Nitrado added Intel Optane DC persistent memory modules (DCPMMs) to its game hosting servers, making it possible to run more instances of a game on a single server without negatively affecting the game server's performance.

Results
Adding Intel Optane DC persistent memory increased the number of instances of Minecraft* that could run on one of Nitrado's servers from 182 to 500 (see Figure 1), and boosted CPU utilization from 40 percent to 85 percent1. Server performance remained high. Based on the positive results, Nitrado now offers servers equipped with Intel Optane DC persistent memory to customers.

Figure 1. By increasing game instance density with Intel® Optane™ DC persistent memory, Nitrado keeps hosting prices affordable for its customers.1

Memory-Hungry Games Prevent Efficient CPU Utilization
As online games become more complex, they make increasing demands on both compute and memory resources. But in Nitrado's experience, some games—such as Minecraft—have asymmetric resource consumption. That is, on a dual-socket server with 20 to 24 cores per processor, system memory becomes full well before CPU utilization maxes out. Because user experience is paramount to Nitrado's business model, this limits the number of game instances that can be hosted on a server, and leaves compute resources sitting idle.

Inefficient data center resource utilization drives TCO up, which could lead to having to charge customers more for game hosting—something Nitrado did not want to do.

Improving CPU utilization could be achieved by buying less powerful processors, but that could undermine user experience. Another approach would have been to provide more memory by adding more or higher-capacity DRAM modules to game servers. But memory pricing does not generally scale linearly with DRAM and quickly becomes prohibitively expensive. In addition, even the largest capacity DRAM modules are rarely more than 256 GB; at a certain point, the server will run out of free DRAM slots and expanding memory further becomes impossible.

Nitrado sought a solution that affordably and substantially extended system memory without driving up costs or degrading system performance and the user experience during game play.

Replace Some DRAM with a New Large-Capacity Memory Technology—And Maintain Performance
Intel Optane DC persistent memory in Memory Mode2 can add up to 3 TB of memory per socket, which enables Nitrado to increase the number of game instances (each of which runs in a container) on a server—driving up container density and therefore driving down TCO—while maintaining good game server performance. Game performance was measured by observing the effect on a metric called server tick rate. In complex games such as Minecraft, simulations are run in the background—many per second—to prepare for what will happen next in the game (a monster might take a step or a player's health and hunger are updated according to the player's circumstances). The tick rate is the frequency at which a server processes updates and is measured in hertz (Hz). The faster the tick rate, the more "real-time" the game seems to players. Minecraft typically runs at a rate of 20 ticks per second.3 In Nitrado's tests, replacing some DRAM with Intel Optane DCPMMs did not negatively affect Minecraft's tick rate, thereby preserving the player-side experience.

New Game Possibilities on the Horizon
The cloud gaming market is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 40 percent between 2018 and 2023, reaching a total market size of USD 8 billion by 2025 (up from just over USD 1 billion in 2018).4 The benefits of Intel Optane DC persistent memory are going to help Nitrado be part of that growth today. But the ripple effects go beyond Nitrado and its customers.

With the potential for online gaming servers to have as much as 6 TB of Intel Optane DCPMMs installed, game developers and publishing studios can up their game as well. Want more monsters? More tsunamis? More volcanoes? More action and options? With memory no longer the limiting factor on what can happen in "real-time" for online gamers, the gaming industry will transform, creating more fantastic worlds and adventure—creating perhaps an even stronger demand for online gaming services such as Nitrado's.

"Our tests showed that we can use Intel® Optane™ DC persistent memory modules (DCPMMs) to extend system memory, letting us more fully utilize our CPUs without losing performance." —Marco Balle, ceo, Nitrado*

Collaborating to Drive Innovation in the Data Center
Intel relentlessly innovates, seeking to develop technologies that not only transform the data center, but computing itself. Likewise, Nitrado is a forward-thinking company dedicated to providing top-tier gaming performance and user experience to its customers. When two such companies work together, the results are impressive.

Intel Optane DC persistent memory introduces a flexible new tier to the traditional data center memory hierarchy, architected specifically for data center usage. By deploying systems with Intel Optane DC persistent memory in Memory Mode, Nitrado can optimize its data center efficiency by hosting more game instances per server—thereby increasing CPU utilization—without players noticing any negative effects on game performance.

Intel provided Nitrado with testing servers provisioned with Intel Optane DC persistent memory in Memory Mode, and Intel engineers worked with the Nitrado team to choose an optimal configuration of DRAM and DCPMM that would be most cost effective, efficient and performant. Nitrado's current offering uses 1.5 TB of DCPMM, but in the future could deploy up to 3 TB per CPU socket (in addition to the DRAM in the system).

Better Data Center Efficiency without Compromising Performance
As shown in Figure 2, adding Intel Optane DCPMM in Memory Mode to the gaming server increased the number of Minecraft instances concurrently running from 182 to at least 500, while CPU utilization climbed from 40 percent to 85 percent. More efficient CPU usage and higher game instance/container density reduces data center costs and presents an opportunity for expansion of services—more games, more customers—without degradation of game performance. Nitrado and Intel are excited about the possibilities, not just for Nitrado and its customers, but also for the game development community. Intel will continue to work with Nitrado to pass on the benefits of Intel innovations to Nitrado's customers. Just think of the magical worlds that can be created, now that memory is no longer a constraint.

Figure 2. Increased container density and CPU utilization resulting from adding Intel® Optane™ DC persistent memory to gaming servers enables Nitrado* to keep costs down while maintaining performance levels.

Spotlight on Nitrado*
Online gaming is steadily growing in popularity, and Nitrado* makes it easy and affordable for customers to have their own gaming server. Customers do not need to be a technology expert to rent a server and to create their own world where they can play together with their friends. Having a game server with Nitrado has many advantages, as its data centers are strategically located all around the world for optimal latency. Nitrado's goal is to optimize the gaming experience, which is why it offers cutting-edge servers that are protected against distributed denial of service (DDoS) and have been customized to run more than 130 games dynamically and automatically.

Using an intuitive Web browser interface or smartphone app, Nitrado's customers can rent servers, start games, add and delete players, and even change from game to game while keeping their same files and configurations. Customers can focus on gaming, rather than on server admin tasks. Nitrado also provides services for Xbox* and PS4* consoles, rents dedicated servers to game studios and publishers, and offers a managed solution where Nitrado handles the instances that are running on dedicated machines.

The company was founded in 2012, and has data centers in Frankfurt, London, New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Sydney and Singapore. In total, Nitrado's data centers run about 40,000 Intel® CPU cores.

Results

  • 112 percent increase in CPU usage.1
  • 175 percent increase in game instance density.1
  • Flexibility for future business expansion, with more games and more customers
  • Better data center efficiency results in total cost of ownership (TCO) reduction, helping to keep hosting prices low
  • Memory is no longer a limited resource for game developers, allowing them to create even more fantastic worlds

Explore Related Intel® Products

Intel® Xeon® Scalable Processors

Drive actionable insight, count on hardware-based security, and deploy dynamic service delivery with Intel® Xeon® Scalable processors.

Learn more

Intel® Optane™ DC Persistent Memory

Extract more actionable insights from data – from cloud and databases, to in-memory analytics, and content delivery networks.

Learn more

注意事項與免責聲明

Intel® 技術的功能與優勢取決於系統配置,而且可能需要支援的硬體、軟體或服務啟動才能使用。實際效能會依系統組態而異。沒有電腦系統能提供絕對的安全性。詳情請洽詢購入系統的製造商或零售商,或是上網參閱 https://www.intel.com.tw// 效能測試中使用的軟體與工作負載,可能只有針對 Intel® 微處理器進行效能最佳化。包括 SYSmark* 與 MobileMark* 在內的效能測試是使用特定電腦系統、零組件、軟體、作業與功能進行測。這些因素若有任何異動,均可能導致測得結果產生變化。考慮購買時,為了協助您充分評估,您應該參考其他資訊及效能測試,包括該產品結合其它產品使用時的效能表現。如需更完整的資訊,請造訪 https://www.intel.com.tw/benchmarks// 效能結果係根據截至組態中所示日期的測試,可能無法反映所有公開提供的安全性更新。請查看組態公開資料以獲得詳細資訊。沒有產品或元件能提供絕對的安全性。// 所述之成本降低情境,用意是要提供範例,指出搭載特定 Intel® 處理器的產品,在特定情況與配置,可能會如何影響未來各項成本以及提供成本節省。實際情況可能有所差異。對於各項成本,或是成本降低幅度,Intel 不提供任何保證。// Intel 並不控制或稽核本文件提及的第三方效能標竿資料或網站。您應造訪該網站並確認本文件提及的資料是否正確。// 部分測試案例結果係採用 Intel 內部分析或架構模擬或模型進行預估或模擬,僅供參考之用。系統硬體、軟體或配置如有任何差異,都可能會影響實際的效能表現。

產品與效能資訊

1

由 Nitrado 於 2019 年 2 月 7 日進行測試 All-DRAM 配置:雙插槽 Intel® Xeon® Gold 6148 處理器 (8x 64 GB DDR4-2666 DRAM),已安裝記憶體總容量 = 512 GB。可用系統記憶體 = 512 GB。Minecraft* 執行個體數量:182。CPU 使用率:40%。DRAM + Intel® Optane™ DC 持續性記憶體配置:雙插槽 Intel® Xeon® Gold 6252 處理器 (12x 128 GB (1.5TB) Intel® Optane™ DC 持續性記憶體及 12x 16 GB (192 GB) DDR4-2600 DRAM),已安裝記憶體總容量 = 1,692 GB。可用系統記憶體 = 1,536 GB。Minecraft 執行個體數量:500。CPU 使用率:85%。最終結果根據 Nitrado 的測試資料進行推算。

2

請注意,Intel® Optane™ 持續性記憶體可以在兩種模式中作業。在記憶體模式中,應用程式和作業系統能識別非揮發記憶體的單一池,與僅限 DRAM 的系統並無二致。在本模式中,應用程式內無需特定的持續性記憶體編程,並且斷電時不會儲存資料。此為 Nitrado* 使用的作業模式。在 App Direct 模式中,應用程式和作業系統知道平台中有兩種類型的直接載入/儲存記憶體,並且能指示哪種類型的數據讀取或寫入適合 DRAM 或 Intel® Optane™ DC 持續性記憶體。要求最低延遲且無需永久資料儲存的作業可以在 DRAM 上執行,例如資料庫「暫存」。需要持續性或龐大結構的資料,可以路由至 Intel® Optane™ DC 持續性記憶體。