Thought for the day: Thanks for the memory

Are you about to upgrade your server? If you're doing so to boost performance you might be better off improving your memory, says...

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Are you about to upgrade your server? If you're doing so to boost performance you might be better off improving your memory, says Simon Moores.




I have been reading a White Paper on cost of ownership and server memory from Kingston Technologies and the results are interesting enough to share.

Most businesses are trying to find ways of saving money on IT spend and drive down cost of ownership. Invariably, an expense that can’t be ignored is that of the server upgrade. 

Many companies buy servers with a dual-processor capability, but only a relatively small percentage of owners actually choose to add a second CPU or more memory, rather than buy a completely new server when circumstances demand greater performance. Therefore, when a new operating system such as Windows 2003 comes along, there’s a tendency among many business, encouraged by the leading hardware suppliers, to replace an existing server with a shiny new one.

One objective of Kingston’s research, conducted by Mindcraft Labs, was to establish a "test-point" which could aid customers in determining the best and most cost-effective configuration for their servers. This revealed two very interesting facts.

In tests with Windows 2000, Linux and Solaris, adding more memory can increase server performance by as much as 50% on a web server and that extra memory, rather than a second CPU, commonly represents a more cost-effective solution to the challenge of improving web server and DBMS server performance across operating platforms.

As an example, quadrupling the memory in a Windows 2000 server from 512MB to 2GB is 40% more effective than simply adding a second processor, and the performance improvement could be as high as 1,000% on dual-processor Solaris DBMS systems with the memory expanded from 512Mb to 4GB.

The results clearly indicate that adding memory first, as a rule of thumb, offers the best solution until an application’s need for memory is completely satisfied. Once this objective has been achieved, then adding further processors is a next step, but you should always ensure that systems are fully memory efficient first before adding further processors.

The research also argues against throwing out older servers when new applications or operating systems appear. In a great many cases, a cheap memory upgrade is enough to maintain the status quo or even improve performance significantly on what it had been in the past. In some respects, it’s rather like buying a new TV because you want to watch BBC Four, when all you need is the equipment upgrade.

So, unless your business really wants to spend its dwindling IT budget on new boxes, it’s worth remembering that memory is the key factor to consider in respect of applications performance. Most of us don’t have enough of it and a little extra can, as the research illustrates, make a significant impact on web server or database server performance.

The research can be found at

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Setting the world to rights with the collected thoughts and opinions of leading industry analyst Dr Simon Moores of Zentelligence.

Acting globally, Zentelligence (Research) advises governments, suppliers, business and the media on the evolution, application and delivery of leading-edge technologies and specialises in the areas of eGovernment and information security.

For further information on Zentelligence and its research, presentation and analyst services visit

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