Friday, February 8, 2013

Typical Hardware recommended by Michaelsoft

I got a lot of inquiries asking "What are your recommended spec for using Michaelsoft DDS?" and I gave them the spec, and they always asked, "Why these specs?". I can understand why those who have to switch from using hard disk cloning solution to a hard diskless solution feel that investing these server spec as way too expensive for a cybercafe business

These recommended hardware are preference of Michaelsoft, not just as a reference. The only benefit Michaelsoft have from recommending these hardware are lesser troubleshooting and reliability issue, as they have been giving expected result and proved its optimum performance on Michaelsoft's Testing Bench.

Besides, it's a hard diskless solution, you will need a server that can sustain the operation of all those client PC where their hard disk is stripped. 

Cost benefit, the DDS server's hardware investment is to reduce your future software maintenance workload, something that can change your 100 hours work to a 30 minutes work. That's a HUGE benefit.

"Equally matched client PC and Server specifications, Michaelsoft DDS diskless system is so POWERFUL that it can allow client PC to run at 3 games all at once without lagging!"

Don't believe it? Ask other vendors to come on the same day with Michaelsoft, they will be more than happy to show you the difference.

Michaelsoft do not restrict its customer to buy other brands of hardware, however customer should be aware of the of having different performance and lifespan. Therefore it's best to check with other review website about the hardware's performance. Malaysian like me usually goto hardwarezone.com.my or tomshardware.com.

To run a optimal performance on diskless system, the following hardware are recommended by Michaelsoft as they passed the testing bench.

In a cybercafe environment with 100 PCs, a recommended Michaelsoft DDS Server has the following specification:
          
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Motherboard: Gigabyte Z77X-D3H
Processor: Pentium Core i7- 3770 (3.40GHz)
RAM: 8GB Kingston DDR3-1600 RAM * 4 units
Display Card: Asus GT210 Silent
PSU: Cooler Master Silent Pro M2 720Watt
Casing: Cooler Master RC690 II
Intel Pro Gigabit PCIE Network Adapter * 2 units

The following hard disk combination is catered for different budget and performance needs.
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Elite Package

Linux Partition
   
Corsair Neutron GTX SSD SATA3.0 120G * 1units
Corsair Neutron GTX SSD SATA3.0 240G * 3units

Windows Partition
 
Western Digital RE4 Edition (2000GB * 2 units)



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Deluxe Package

Linux Partition
 
Western Digital RE4 Edition (500GB * 3 units)


Windows Partition
 
Western Digital RE4 Edition (1000GB * 2 units)
Western Digital RE4 Edition (2000GB * 1 units)




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Server Hardware requirements

The Windows Partition contains the games, and other software. If these parts has higher read/write speeds, then the games and software would be faster.

The Linux Partition contains the server OS and client PC OS and remaining space are for client PC's buffering. When users copying files, the speed are affected by the read/write of the hard disk drive.

Why Pentium i7? With higher processing power, programs execution will be faster. Due to DDS Servers have frequent functions such as Auto Game Update, Multi Synchronizing, check disk, etc, these task can be completed sooner if the CPU is better.

"What happens if its lower than Pentium i7?" - When the server load is heavy, the client PCs operation will start to lag, due to the execution of high resources programs at server side.
Taking the risk to compromise the performance of server will directly affect your customer satisfaction and staff satisfaction. Even if cybercafe owner uses a Core 2 Duo, the server will experience lag if 100 PCs were all running at the same time.


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Cost analysis - Upgrade a CPU

A downtime will caused a business losing income.

Assuming,

Rates = RM2.00/hour
Cumulative full house hours/day = 3 hours
100PC/day = RM600/day

Due to downtime, a business could lose up to RM600 a day.

If the DDS server has low end spec, which cause dissatisfaction to customer, with the same rates, but lesser full house hours and it will cause a business to earn,

Rates = RM2.00/hour
Cumulative full house hours/day = 1.5 hours
100PC/day = RM300/day

instead of RM600/day

Cybercafe owner could only make RM300 a day for not upgrading the CPU.
In other words, a low end spec could only achieve 50% of your maximum revenue earning capability.

Why not save up and upgrade the CPU which can allow business to maximize the income generation?

The cost to purchase a new CPU, i7, RM 900 (lowyat's price), so it takes 3 days to pay for a new CPU isn't it?

What cybercafe owner initially invest is what he will get in return. The higher is the investment on the right system, the higher is the return. Always ask for a demo from different vendors on the same day.
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Zero Downtime Practice: 2 DDS Servers
Due to the practice to ensure zero downtime, 2 DDS servers are recommended, in the event of the server down, the other server will take over the whole 100 PCs I/O. That's why to anticipate the 100PC I/O, a DDS server must have the capability to sustain 100 PCs I/O.

The 2 DDS Servers run concurrently, none of them is idle or place in the store room as a backup. The client PC connected to the down DDS server need to reboot and will be directed to the 2nd DDS server.

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Cost analysis - Getting 2 DDS Servers

A downtime will caused a business losing income.

Assuming,

Rates = RM2.00/hour
Cumulative full house hours/day = 3 hours
100PC/day = RM600/day

Due to downtime, a business could lose up to RM600 a day. And lose customer loyalty.

A DDS Server will fail when the hard disk in it starts to fail, during that time the technician have to troubleshoot it and fix the ONLY server as soon as possible. If the hard disk needs to be ordered, time is delayed. When the disk is back, but the contents are gone, technicians have to spend time to get the content back. A long list of games and other software need to be downloaded and install. If there's an image file kept as back up that could speed things up a little.

The million dollar question, how long can you install all the games that you previously have? Just the hot games itself, how long would it take? Another 1 day? Just a day customer might think that the cybercafe is out of order and goes to competition's cybercafe, and became loyal to them. That will cause a life long lost.

So prevent downtime, a DDS server might only cost around RM5k. That's roughly a 8 days worth of business revenue.

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Why need 32GB RAM at DDS server? Larger data bandwidth allow quicker data access, it also allow 100 client PC to process files faster all at the same time. Which when playing games, multitasking to listen to music or access files seems to be quick and flawless (not so laggy). However when the server side is offering that much of speed, the client PC side need to have at at least a 4GB RAM to experience the flawlessness. Client PC need a 4GB RAM is due to the Windows 7 64bit version ate a good 2GB, and the surplus 2GB is for better gaming experience.

If you want to run Windows 7 on your PC, here's what it takes:
  • 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster 32-bit (x86) or 64-bit (x64) processor
  • 1 gigabyte (GB) RAM (32-bit) or 2 GB RAM (64-bit)
  • DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM 1.0 or higher driver
Also don't pump too much RAM to a Windows XP client PC:

Physical Memory Limits: Windows XP

The following table specifies the limits on physical memory for Windows XP.

VersionLimit on X86Limit on X64Limit on IA64
Windows XP4 GB128 GB128 GB (not supported)
Windows XP Starter Edition512 MBN/AN/A


Client PC Hardware requirements

The client PC spec also has a recommended requirement, to ensure good gaming, these are the current recommended spec by Michaelsoft, after test run all the games available in Michaelsoft's Game Menu.

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(AMD Specification)
Processor: AMD Phenom II  X4 955 BE (3.2GHz) AM3 -8MB
Motherboard: Gigabyte GA-M68MT-S2, Gigabyte MA770T-D3L,  Asus M488T-M LE
RAM:4GB Kingston DDR 3 - 1333MHz
Casing: Icute ATX Casing ,
PSU: COOLER MASTER GX 550W

or

(Intel Specification)
Processor:Intel Core I3-2100  (3.10GHz) 3MB
Motherboard: ASUS P8H61-M LE B3 , GIGABYTE H61M-S2-B3, MSI H61MU-E33 B3
RAM: 4GB Kingston DDR 3 - 1333MHz
Casing: Icute ATX Casing ,
PSU: COOLER MASTER GX 550W         


Graphic Card (Choose Either One)
• Gigabyte Geforce GTX550 DDR5 1GB
• Gigabyte Geforce GT 640 DDR3 2GB
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The client PC spec need to be optimized to give a decent gaming experience, most of the customer that goes to a cybercafe expect the game can be played without much flaws.

At a standard rate of RM2/hour, customer would be pissed if the game is laggy. Customer wouldn't mind if graphics to be displayed at it's minimum requirement. If the client PC can't multi-task then it would disappoint the customer as they might want to listen to music or download other files while playing or waiting the game.

If the cybercafe rates were to be higher, then the customer would have higher expectation towards their gaming experience in the cybercafe.

If customer have doubts whether their existing PC can use Michaelsoft DDS, please do send us your spec and we will respond as soon as possible.

Cost effectively, compared to a hard disk solution that uses cloning method to do it's software maintenance, a hard diskless solution can reduce all those workloads to the least, together with auto game update, it's even more work efficient.