Mar 292017

Watch your memory configuration! You can’t just throw RAM in a physical server and expect it to work right. Depending on your DIMM configuration, you might have accidentally slowed down your memory speed, which will surely slow down your application servers. This speed decrease is virtually undetectable from the OS. Anything that leverages lots of RAM to function, including a database server, can take a substantial performance hit on performance.

An example of this is if you wish to configure 384GB of RAM on a new server. The server has 24 memory slots. You could populate each of the memory slots with 16GB sticks of memory to get to the 384GB total. Or, you could spend a bit more money to buy 32GB sticks of memory and only fill up half of the memory slots. Your outcome is the same amount of RAM. Your price tag on the memory is slightly higher than the relatively cheaper smaller sticks.

In this configuration, your 16GB DIMM configuration runs the memory 22% slower than if you buy the higher density sticks. Check out page 63 of the server build guide for an HPE Proliant DL380 Gen9 server. The fully populated 16GB stick configuration runs the memory at 1866 MHz. If you only fill in the 32GB sticks on half the slots, the memory runs at 2400 MHz.

Database servers, both physical and virtual, use memory as an I/O cache, improving the performance of the database engine by reducing the dependency on slower storage and leveraging the speed of RAM to boost performance. If the memory is slower, your databases will perform worse. Validate your memory speed on your servers, both now and for upcoming hardware purchases. Ensure that your memory configuration yields the fastest possible performance. Your applications will thank you!

  One Response to “Your physical memory configuration can slow down your servers”

  1. […] David Klee warns against just throwing memory into servers willy-nilly: […]