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Microsoft Promising Lighter CPU Burdens for Virtual Workloads with Windows Server 2019

Microsoft is touting virtual workload CPU performance improvements in the coming Windows Server 2019 product, with fewer configuration hassles for IT pros.

Windows Server 2019 is currently at the preview stage, but it's expected to become commercially available sometime this year. While the top throughput rate for virtual machines in Windows Server 2019 will be the same as in Windows Server 2016, namely 40Gbps, Windows Server 2019 will have lower CPU demands. Moreover, IT pros won't have to go through the same hassles as they did with Windows Server 2016 to get a performance boost, according to a Wednesday announcement by Dan Cuomo, a Microsoft program manager on the Windows core networking team.

Virtual Workload Perks
The virtual workload networking enhancements in Windows Server 2019 stem from two new features, namely "Receive Segment Coalescing (RSC) in the vSwitch" and "Dynamic Virtual Machine Multi-Queue" (DVMM-Q).

The RSC in the vSwitch feature will be enabled by default in Windows Server 2019. It supports virtual switch traffic, such as "Hyper-V compute workloads, some Storage Spaces Direct patterns, or Software Defined Networking implementations," Cuomo noted. When turned on in Windows Server 2019, RSC in the vSwitch decreases CPU use by 18 percent while increasing throughput by 59 percent, in comparison with being turned off, Cuomo indicated.

DVMM-Q is considered to be an advanced Windows Server 2019 feature that will automatically tune the host for optimal CPU workloads. It uses fewer CPUs when the network throughput is low, but it will expand CPU use when the throughput is high. The DVMM-Q feature won't be included in Windows Server 2019, but organizations can just add a driver to the system's network interface card (NIC) to get it. The driver will be available from Windows Server hardware vendors. No configuration will be required by IT pros to get the DVMM-Q feature to work, according to Cuomo.

To use the DVMM-Q feature in Windows Server 2019, organizations should look for NICs covered under Microsoft's "SDDC Premium" (Software Defined Data Center Premium) certification program. If the SDDC Premium logo isn't on the hardware, then "you will default to the traditional Static mechanism," Cuomo indicated.

Other Improvements
Microsoft sees the two virtual workload improvements as being its No. 5 top networking feature in Windows Server 2019. The No. 6 networking was software-defined networking (SDN) gateway improvements for optimizing the throughputs of IPSec and GRE connections. Microsoft also is touting the new server's overall SDN improvements.

The "hybrid" concept -- that is, using the server on-premises in conjunction with Azure services delivered from Microsoft's datacenters -- is another Windows Server 2019 marketing theme. Quite a lot of the hybrid integration will be happening using Windows Admin Center, a browser-based set of tools that are supplanting Server Manager and Microsoft Management Console. Windows Admin Center is currently at the preview stage, but it's expected to reach commercial availability sometime this year.

Microsoft is promising that the Windows Admin Center will have server management capabilities along with connections to Azure services. It'll connect with Azure Site Recovery, Azure Backup, Azure Update Management, Azure Active Directory, Azure Virtual Machines and Azure Files services, Microsoft explained, in an earlier Windows Server announcement.

Participants in Microsoft's Windows Insider Program now have access to Windows Server 2019 preview build 17738, according to a Tuesday Microsoft announcement. This release lights up the server's SDN gateway improvements and adds additional support for Windows Server containers.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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