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So I'm going to build a game server using Opterons

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donny_paycheck

Inactive Super Quad Mod
Joined
Oct 25, 2001
I currently game with a clan I've been with for six years now. We're all pretty tight friends, so they've entrusted me with building us a new dedicated gaming server. Currently we lease one from our hosting service, which costs us close to $200/month with bandwidth and associated overhead fees. In light of said fees, we've decided that building our own powerhouse to run all of our games at once will be more fiscally prudent in the long run, as all we'll then have to pay for is a paltry $20/month floorspace fee for the tower (no rack mount, thankfully) and bandwidth fees.

I've done some looking around, as well as conversing with the architects at the business that does the hosting for the clan I game with, and I've come up with the following build configuration for a new gaming server. This thing is going to be hosting 2-3 games at any given time, two of which will be some resource-hungry apps like Battlefield Vietnam and Battlefield II this fall. Given this requirement, and the hardware recommendations from the guys who currently host our servers, I've come up with the following configuration:

  • (2) Opteron 246 CPUs
  • MSI K8T Master2
  • 2 gigs of Crucial PC3200 registered ECC DDR (2 x 1 gig DIMMs to keep 2 slots open)
  • (2) 74 gig Raptors using onboard RAID 0
  • onboard gigabit LAN
  • Antec SX1000 series case, PC P&C Turbo Cool 510 PFC, generic AGP card, CDROM, etc.
According to the guys at ILAN, this will be more than enough to chew through whatever we can throw at it for a long time to come, as well as offer an upgrade path for the future, which is another thing we're concerned about. Upgradability, as well as cost/performance, are really the two main reasons I opted for Opterons over Xeons or MPs (at the advice of their techs, too).

For some context, our current platform is a pair of 1.2 Athlon MPs on a Tyan Thunder K7 with 1.5 gigs of PC2100. Not exactly bleeding edge, and if we run BF1942 and BFV servers simultaneously, it lags hard.

So, do any of you see any potential conflicts here? Or have any recommendations? I was really, really tempted to get 248s or maybe even 250s, but the cost can only be described as astronomical. Of course, if anybody can give me a good reason why 248s or 250s would be worth the money, I may give in. ;)

Thanks in advance for any insight you have to offer. I've been only tacitly involved with the SMP scene for over a year now, so my knowledge isn't what it once was.
 

man_utd

Member
Joined
Jun 22, 2003
Location
Amsterdam, NL
First off, whom do you get your server from? I know you can find servers for much cheaper, our clans BFV server is 35 a month.

However, I think you will not have any problems with your set up, and most probably the reason why you lag when you run both servers at the same time is you just don't have enough upload bandwith.
 

DaveB

Senior Member
Joined
Dec 18, 2000
The MSI board you selected is a workstation board. Get a real server board with separate DDR banks for each CPU, x64-bit PCI slots, and built-in-video. Here's an example.
 
OP
donny_paycheck

donny_paycheck

Inactive Super Quad Mod
Joined
Oct 25, 2001
DaveB said:
The MSI board you selected is a workstation board. Get a real server board with separate DDR banks for each CPU, x64-bit PCI slots, and built-in-video. Here's an example.
Just a question about that one. I thought NUMA wouldn't work under OSes like Win2k, which is what we'll be using.

I know the MSI board only allows one of the CPUs direct access to the memory and the other has to go over the hypertransport tunnel. Is that what you're referring to?

man_utd said:
First off, whom do you get your server from? I know you can find servers for much cheaper, our clans BFV server is 35 a month.

However, I think you will not have any problems with your set up, and most probably the reason why you lag when you run both servers at the same time is you just don't have enough upload bandwith.
We get ours from www.ilangame.com but it's more than just a BFV server we've got running on it. As far as the upload goes, we peak at maybe 30mb/s, and the server is in a colo facility with dual OC48 and quad OC192 connections, so it's not a bandwidth issue. The lagging, as they've confirmed, is because of a lack of RAM first and foremost.
 

MLMIB

Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2002
Location
new jersey
er, I find it hard to believe it's ram dude, I run servers off my comp time to time, I've run a 16 person CS fine off of 512, same with BF, 1 gb of ram should be plenty for any one game, 2 servers if they're not blastin away. I wouldn't get 2 1gb sticks, personally at least. the cost increase when goin from 512 sticks to 1gb sticks is just huge. again, just my opinion. Either way, drop an IP, I'd love to frag ya once or twice ^_~
 

Softgod

Disabled
Joined
Oct 11, 2002
I would just update your processors that you have now. I run all kinds of games at the same time on a dualAthlon 2266 mhz system with 2 GB of ram in it. The mobo is a K7D Master L with 2 overclockered 2500's (unlocked).

I use this server at alot of LAN Parties and it can hold a ton of people too.
 
OP
donny_paycheck

donny_paycheck

Inactive Super Quad Mod
Joined
Oct 25, 2001
Thanks for your advice guys, I appreciate it.

Can anybody set me straight about NUMA and the Tyan S2382? I know it has dedicated RAM banks for each processor, but all I've read suggests that this offers no performance increase at the current time over boards like the K8T Master2, which use one CPU talking directly to the RAM also as a proxy for the other CPU via the hypertransport.

Basically, I just want to know if the dedicated RAM banks really offer any performance increases with current software. Preferably a link to something clarifying. Because everything I've read says that they don't. (but I trust DaveB's information to the point where I'll give this another look :))
 

CPFitz14

Member
Joined
May 23, 2002
Location
Michigan
I just read a review on this, I'll try to dig it up. Memory bandwidth was pretty much even using current software, but when they used XP-64 beta, the Thunder nearly doubled the bandwidth of the others. When I go dual opteron, I'll probably go with a NUMA board for sure. After all, you can download a one year trial of XP-64 free from microsoft.


edit: Link.

-CPFitz-
 

diehrd

Senior SMP Gawd
Joined
Jan 15, 2001
Location
NY
I think for a game server you are overkilling..If there is to be any savings I would go Mp or Xeon..The procrssors although important wil not be the botle neck..Ram and drives will be more criticle, and in that area I would spend the cash...I gurantee Xeon or a MP2800 system will perform as strong as what you are looking toi set up and cost about half..
 

CPFitz14

Member
Joined
May 23, 2002
Location
Michigan
I agree with diehrd, but on the other hand, opterons are going to offer much more upgradabililty. I'd go for the opterons myself, and in fact, I plan to after Christmas time.:D Diehrd is right in terms of performance. I don't think that you should have any problems at all power wise. I would go with 242s and put the money towards an upgrade later on, or possibly more RAM, etc... . You might also be able to gain performance by going with a server board as opposed to a workstation board like the MSI. I'd try to find a board with onboard video.

-CPFitz-
 
OP
donny_paycheck

donny_paycheck

Inactive Super Quad Mod
Joined
Oct 25, 2001
CPFitz14 said:
I just read a review on this, I'll try to dig it up. Memory bandwidth was pretty much even using current software, but when they used XP-64 beta, the Thunder nearly doubled the bandwidth of the others. When I go dual opteron, I'll probably go with a NUMA board for sure. After all, you can download a one year trial of XP-64 free from microsoft.


edit: Link.

-CPFitz-
Thanks mang, that's what I was thinking of.

As far as overkill goes, I know Opterons are just obnoxious at the moment. But as I said, the reason why I'm opting for them is for a solid upgrade path. Athlons are at the end of the road and Xeon performance in this area simply is not justified by their price. What I am trying to do is piece together a config that's going to use a foundation with an upgrade path lasting hopefully several years. Opterons will do this both because socket 940 will live long, and because of their 64-bit capability.

Still thinking of going with the Thunder board though. I'd have to get an EPS12V supply for it and rethink how I wanted to use the RAM, but otherwise it sounds like a more future-minded solution. Of course, in the interim, the MSI I'm looking at performs better than the Thunder does, without NUMA being used.
 

MLMIB

Member
Joined
Nov 27, 2002
Location
new jersey
hmmm, xeons are cheaper as far as I know, 'n I would think they give the same performance, maybe better when running multiple servers due to ht.....

just an assumption though
 
OP
donny_paycheck

donny_paycheck

Inactive Super Quad Mod
Joined
Oct 25, 2001
MLMIB said:
hmmm, xeons are cheaper as far as I know, 'n I would think they give the same performance, maybe better when running multiple servers due to ht.....

just an assumption though
They're cheaper than Opterons for sure, but their price/performance is not quite as good for what I'll be using them for. This I'm repeating verbatim from what the guys at the hosting company told me, and they own MPs, Xeon DPs, and Opterons, so they've made comparisons.
 

ggo

Disabled
Joined
Jun 27, 2004
that sounds like a solid machine to me. are the raptors scsi or sata? it seems to me like a dual 246 deserves nothing but the best for the rest of the systems. and are you sure that you want to use raid 0? methinks that raid 1 would suit a server better, but i wouldnt really know. ive been running through the server colocation thing myself, though when i do it will be on another continent. which means that i wont be able to fix stuff if things were to happen. also, consider getting a real server board with high-quality add in cards for the 64 bit slots. such as gigabit lan and a scsi raid controller.
 

Nightingale

Member
Joined
Dec 13, 2002
Location
Ohio
Hmm if you aren't to worried about max performance you can get Opteron 242's. They are the best bang for the buck processor in the Opteron family and run pretty nice on my K8T with a gig of ram. Also another setup to consider is dual 2.4ghz xeons on a PC-DL and overclock them to hell. I almost wish I would have got dual xeons due to the Hyperthreading but this Opteron system should be upgradable for few years ahead (according to AMD with the dual core Opteron 939 supposed to be compatible with a bios fix when they release). Oh what fun it will be to have quad processors with the size of a dual board and only needing cooling for dual processors (might need to go water cooling with some big radiators).
 
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donny_paycheck

donny_paycheck

Inactive Super Quad Mod
Joined
Oct 25, 2001
ggo said:
that sounds like a solid machine to me. are the raptors scsi or sata? it seems to me like a dual 246 deserves nothing but the best for the rest of the systems. and are you sure that you want to use raid 0? methinks that raid 1 would suit a server better, but i wouldnt really know. ive been running through the server colocation thing myself, though when i do it will be on another continent. which means that i wont be able to fix stuff if things were to happen. also, consider getting a real server board with high-quality add in cards for the 64 bit slots. such as gigabit lan and a scsi raid controller.
This will be a game server and no critical data will be stored on it. RAID 0 is their recommendation. Also, the K8T has onboard gigabit LAN so there's no need for an add-in. The SATA RAID is native too, for that matter. I won't be adding anything but a cheap AGP card in the slots. (provided I still get the K8T, I'm seriously considering going with the Tyan)
 

SK8

Member
Joined
Dec 27, 2003
Location
Fort Wayne , In
I would at least have the drives in a raid 1 config so if one failes then it goes right of the other so its redundant but like you said it doesnt have any critical data :X
 

Audioaficionado

Sparkomatic Moderator
Joined
Apr 29, 2002
The 32bit Prestonia Xeons should be getting substatial price cuts now that the 64bit Noconas are finally coming out tomorrow. So don't write off a Xeon server yet.