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

Avisos legales y descargos de responsabilidad

Las características y ventajas de las tecnologías Intel® dependen de la configuración del sistema y puede que requieran de la activación de hardware, software o servicios. El rendimiento variará en función de la configuración del sistema. Ningún sistema informático es absolutamente seguro. Consulte con el vendedor o fabricante de su sistema o acceda a https://www.intel.es para obtener más información. // El software y las cargas de trabajo utilizados para las pruebas de rendimiento pueden haber sido optimizados para el uso con microprocesadores Intel® exclusivamente. Las pruebas de rendimiento, como SYSmark y MobileMark, se han medido utilizando sistemas, componentes, software, operaciones y funciones informáticas específicas. Cualquier cambio realizado en cualquiera de estos factores puede hacer que los resultados varíen. Es conveniente consultar otras fuentes de información y pruebas de rendimiento que le ayudarán a evaluar a fondo sus posibles compras, incluido el rendimiento de un producto concreto en combinación con otros. Para obtener información más detallada, acceda a https://www.intel.es/benchmarks. // Los resultados de rendimiento se basan en pruebas realizadas en la fecha indicada en las configuraciones y es posible que no reflejen todas las actualizaciones de seguridad disponibles. Consulte la publicación de la configuración para obtener más información. Ningún producto o componente es completamente seguro. // Las situaciones de reducción de costes descritas están pensadas como ejemplos de cómo un producto equipado con Intel®, en las circunstancias y configuraciones especificadas, puede afectar a los costes futuros y suponer un ahorro. Las circunstancias variarán. Intel no garantiza ningún coste ni reducción de los costes. // Intel no ejerce control ni inspección algunos sobre los datos de análisis de rendimiento o los sitios web de terceros a los que se hace referencia en este documento. Debe visitar el sitio web referido y confirmar si los datos a los que se hacen referencia son precisos. // En algunos casos de prueba, los resultados se han estimado o simulado mediante un análisis interno de Intel o un modelado o simulación de arquitectura, y se le proporcionan con fines informativos. Cualquier diferencia en el hardware, software o configuración del sistema puede afectar al rendimiento real.

Información sobre productos y rendimiento

1

Prueba de Nitrado a 7 de febrero de 2019. Configuración All-DRAM: procesador Intel® Xeon® Gold 6148 de doble socket (8x 64 GB DDR4-2666 DRAM), memoria instalada total = 512 GB. Memoria del sistema disponible = 512 GB. Número de instancias Minecraft*: 182. Uso de la CPU: 40 %. Configuración DRAM + memoria persistente Intel® Optane™ DC: procesador Intel® Xeon® Gold 6252 de doble socket (12x 128 GB (1,5 TB) memoria persistente Intel® Optane™ DC más 12x 16 GB (192 GB) DDR4-2600 DRAM), memoria total instalada = 1692 GB. Memoria del sistema disponible = 1536 GB. Número de instancias de Minecraft: 500. Uso de la CPU: 85 %. Los resultados finales se extrapolaron de datos de pruebas de Nitrado.

2

Tenga en cuenta que la memoria persistente Intel® Optane™ puede funcionar en dos modos. En Modo memoria, las aplicaciones y el sistema operativo perciben un único grupo de memoria volátil, no diferente a los sistemas exclusivos DRAM. En este modo, no se requiere una programación de memoria persistente específica en las aplicaciones y los datos no se guardarán en el caso de una pérdida de potencia. Este es el modo operativo que usa Nitrado*. En Modo App Direct, las aplicaciones y el sistema operativo saben que hay dos tipos de memoria de carga/almacenamiento directa en la plataforma y pueden decidir qué tipo de lectura o escritura de datos es adecuada para la memoria persistente DRAM o Intel® Optane™ DC. Las operaciones que requieran la latencia más baja y que no necesiten el almacenamiento permanente de datos pueden ejecutarse en DRAM, como los blocs de dictado de bases de datos. Los datos que necesiten hacerse persistentes o las estructuras muy grandes pueden enviarse a la memoria persistente Intel® Optane™ DC.