Linode NextGen: The Hardware

March 18, 2013 12:13 pm

This is the second post in a series we’re doing about Linode: NextGen. The first post in the series focused on network upgrades we’re making. This post focuses on a new host specification, CPUs, a fleet refresh, and the deployment schedule for all these changes.  Oh, and this:

8core

We’re investing millions to make your Linodes faster. Crazy faster. We’ve begun a refresh of 3/4 of our entire fleet to a new “NextGen” host hardware specification.  And we’re upgrading all Linodes to 8 cores! Right now. As in all you need to do is reboot to double the computing power of your Linode.

By the time the host refresh is completed the average Linode will be running on hardware that is less than 1 year old. What does all of this mean for you? Faster websites, services, and processing at the same price points.

Powering our NextGen hosts are two Intel Sandy Bridge E5-2670 processors. The E5-2670 is at the high end of the power-price-performance ratio.   Each E5-2670 enjoys 20 MB of cache and has 8 cores running at 2.6 Ghz.  We’ve also moved to the latest generation of the enterprise-grade hard disk drives — doubling their cache, increasing their port speed, and decreasing latency and access time.

Linodes will start landing on NextGen hardware in the next week or so.  Linodes on servers that are being retired will be required to migrate onto newer hardware.  For those affected, you’ll receive support tickets with the details and with plenty of lead time (weeks).  You’ll also have the opportunity to perform the move early and at your leisure if you prefer.

So what about SSDs?  There’s no question SSDs are in Linode’s future, however enterprise-class SSDs (SLC or eMLC based) are prohibitively expensive.  And although MLC-based drives are cheaper we just don’t feel right about using consumer grade laptop drives to power your Linodes.  So we will wait until capacities for enterprise SSDs increase.

Here’s an example Linux kernel compile benchmark on a Linode 1024 with 8 cores on the new host build, running Debian 6 32 bit:

apt-get update && apt-get -y install build-essential
wget https://www.kernel.org/pub/linux/kernel/v3.x/linux-3.8.tar.xz
tar xf linux-3.8.tar.xz
cd linux-3.8/
make distclean && make defconfig && time make -j8

real    1m41.861s
user    10m37.423s
sys     1m41.298s

So about a 100 second kernel build. Not too bad. Enjoy!

112 Responses

  1. Excellent! E5s are a MASSIVE improvement over the L5520s. Well played, Linode!

  2. Wow, such a great move!

    Linode FTW!

  3. Any hope for a lower-spec’d plan that’s cheaper than the current 19.95 plan? I don’t need more power… but I could use a lower bill!

  4. Wow, great job! I’m glad I went with you guys.

  5. Great news! I just checked mine and it’s still 4 cores, when should it be activated for everyone?

    Thanks :)

  6. You need to reboot once to get the additional cores.

  7. So where are you selling the old hardware? I’d be interested in one or two old boxen and I’m sure others might be too…reply to my “required but not published” e-mail address?

  8. Exelente !

  9. Love it!

    PS: any chance for cheaper RAM in the future? CPU is great but for a lot of us, it’s memory that’s the limiter!

  10. That’s awesome,
    but what about those 1/4 who won’t be using a “NextGen” hardware? Can I know whether my server is using a “NextGen” hardware or no?

  11. my 425 days Uptime will be lost lol

  12. Guys you are awesome! These new features are making me to stick with you! Keep going! Another good improvement would be more memory for all plans :D

  13. This is AWESOME!!
    Thank you Linode for your quality service and awesome team!

    //@7php

  14. Rebooted my 1024 and moar cores!!! Thank you!!

  15. Does the number of nodes per host the same? Twice as many cores don’t help as much if more nodes are sharing them.

    (and also I suppose if a RAM upgrade were in order it would have been covered in this “the hardware” part…. too bad)

  16. This is all fantastic for the system and will allow Linode much higher density on each physical server..

    As Nick mentioned above Linode might need to look at their prices as well.. My site that I have on a Linode doesn’t need 8 cores or multiple TB of transfer.. Memory is probably my biggest physical constraint because I don’t want to increase my costs..

    There are a lot of good VPS/Cloud offerings out there now offering comparable service levels for much lover costs.. Without mentioning any names there is one provider offering 2GB of memory and storage on RAID10 SSD for the same amount that a Linode 512 costs and they give you unlimited backup snapshots included in that.. With Linode backups are extra..

    Even if availability was a high priority (not that the other provider is unreliable because it appears they are very reliable) I could get two 1GB servers and load balance them for the same price as the Linode 512..

    Don’t get me wrong I think Linode are fantastic and I don’t have a bad thing to say about them but they need to make sure they remain cost competitive rather than simply offering a bulked up service that many don’t actually “need”..

    Kudos to Linode for being very proactive on hardware and network upgrades..

  17. Lies! 101 seconds to compile the kernel.

  18. Great news, thanks Linode! Just rebooted my Linode. How do we verify that we have access to 8 core goodness?

  19. Amazing! Thank you!
    Hope next gift will be RAM :)

  20. w00t! :mrgreen:

  21. Awesome to hear!

    What tool is that in the screenshot? :)

  22. While, I am sure, most of us are fine with enterprise SAS drives and dont need SSD’s.. competition still beats you on RAM field. In times when everyone is comparing you with DigitalOcean that same DigitalOcean offer 2GB of RAM for 20$

  23. @Jesse

    It’s htop

  24. @Jesse The tool in the screenshot seems to be htop.

  25. I just wonder if Linode think about mix SSD and HDD as a hybird storage solution.

  26. I totally agreed with @Amar and @WipeOut. More memory for each node will make Linodes looks more juicy and its loyalty customers happier.

  27. Awesome upgrades for sure! Whats next RAM?

    Part 1: Bandwidth – 10x upgrade – COOL!
    Outbound N/W Cap – 5x upgrade – Cool!
    Part 2: CPU/Cores – 2x Upgrade – Awesome!
    Any extra Core – whats the cost? Is it reduced to 50% of what it used to be? Is it possible at all?

    Part3: Next What????
    RAM – Xx upgrade??
    What other cool features/upgrades on the cards?

    Looking forward to hear on this soon!

  28. Even if it’s “expensive”, having SSD as an additional cost option is nearly essential for certain kinds of applications.

    It doesn’t matter if it’s double the cost for the same spec. Many people would be willing to pay.

  29. David, install htop – it’ll show you in a very friendly manner.

    Linode, you are amazing.

  30. SO guessing part three is RAM? Hard Disk would be very nice but we got a little bump late last year.

    Not sure how I am going to use all that CPU though. I assume they aren’t increasing the number of nodes per box so we will actually see that speed bump.

    A smaller plan for existing members would be awesome. I know they don’t want to go below $20 as harder to cover support costs and we wouldn’t want to Linode’s support to decrease.

  31. Super awesome! Thanks for the great upgrades :)

    Little question, as I understand it – reboot to get 8 cores, open a ticket to get to new physical hosts? Or will only those with hosts that are being retired have to open a ticket?

    Thanks!

  32. “Linodes on servers that are being retired will be required to migrate onto newer hardware. For those affected, you’ll receive a support ticket with the details and with plenty of lead time (weeks).”

  33. Hi Tasaro,

    Sorry – I meant, are we eligible for a move to the new Sandy Bridge platform by opening a ticket, even if our physical hosts aren’t being retired?

    Thanks!

  34. @Niels – Yes, of course. Wait a week or two to see if you receive a ticket, otherwise we’ll accommodate requests.

  35. You should hold a raffle for the old hardware. It’d be like christmas!

  36. Fab. Just rebooted my cheap server hosting plan and four turned into eight. Great company. Glad I moved from EC2

  37. Could always have an SSD cache on the RAID Controller :)

  38. Really happy about these recent upgrades. I’m really hoping that the next announcement will be a RAM bump, but more importantly, a lower tier or two, at least for existing customers with at least one linode at an existing $20+/month price point. Sometimes you just need less power for LESS money, and right now, there are some VPSs I need that I can’t afford to spend $240/year on.

  39. Well, as long as there are no RAM changes, I am not that excited. I like the change ofcourse, but RAM is the only really limiting thing currently.

  40. Pretty sure that Linode has said in the past that $20 per VPS is as cheap as their business model will support.

    That’s understandable, but I just hope that they’re not going to artificially restrict the RAM in order to sell more of the more expensive VPSs.

  41. Awesome! I’m personally hoping the next installment is another DC or two – Sydney, South America, Singapore being the most desirable (imho).

  42. Thank you very much! You spoil us, Linode!!

  43. Pretty surprised you didn’t go with flash-cache read-only cache to supplement the new HDDs or at least raid controller SSD cache

  44. Hi,
    Good upgrade! Can’t wait to see what’s next!

    Blake

  45. good job!
    nice to hear that:)

  46. Thank Linode very much!

  47. Oh ya .. another DC in Singapore/India(?) will be a great idea.

  48. Sounds great. I hope the CPU graphs in the dash update as well.

  49. Great! For those who asked the tool in the screenshot is “htop”.

  50. I’m pretty sure Linode donate its old hardware to some university. At least that is what a friend told me.

  51. “As in all you need to do is reboot to double the computing power of your Linode”

    But your pricing shows (1 X priority ) for 512MB plan?
    Should it be (2 X proirity) for 512MB plan?

    Planning to shift to linode. Can you please clarify me on this?

  52. oh oh , good job :)

  53. There is more to a provider than specified resource limits. Terms of service, customer support, ability to cope efficiently with network abuses, many geographic locations, ipv6 and top notch infrastructure are all points where Linode shines.

    Since it seems the boat has sailed for more RAM with the absence of such in this “nextgen: the hardware” post, my hope is for “nextgen: data center” having peered data centers with IP failover/ anycast across DCs. HE has two datacenters in fremont – would be great to see it out of there at least.

    rock it.

  54. I have to agree with some of the other commenters here, RAM is the big sticking point for us. We’d like at least 2GB but don’t want to be paying almost $80 a month for it. Cores are great but with modern caching, we need more RAM!

  55. Doubling the Memory and offer up to 96GB of Ram at least? Would the Storage have SSD for Cached Content, so we get some benefits of SSD without moving totally to SSD?

    To me CPU power is useless since most of the time we ran into memory bottleneck well before CPU does.

  56. Awsome (Y) (Y) two thumbs up…. Allways love new addons!

  57. You guys rock. Thanks.

  58. @Jesse htop

  59. The average PHP framework website is RAM-limited. As great as these upgrades are for large-scale operations, a couple of 512s is all I need per site. The current offering is fast enough already. It’s just too expensive for only 512mb RAM.

  60. Just rebooted and now have 8 cores at my disposal. Nice one Linode!

    For anyone wondering what utility is shown in the screenshot in this post, it’s htop. Install it and run it to see how many cores you’re Linode is utilising before and after reboot.

    For some reason, cat /proc/cpuinfo only reports 1 core (whilst htop shows 8). Why is that?

  61. This is of course good news :) But.. I would have rather have seen an increase in performance without an increase in the number of virtual cores. I realise however that this would not produce any visible ‘marketing numbers’, and so make the upgrade less impactful.

    I think the problem comes with software that doesn’t take advantage of multiple cores very well (e.g. single threaded sw like redis, node etc). While it’s possible to make use of the cores with these, it means memory requirements multiply (so e.g. 8xCores on 512MB doesn’t really make sense).

    Any chance there will be the option to select an equivalent with a smaller number of cores? (e.g. choice of 8xCores 1xPriority, or 4xCores 2xPriority)?

  62. Have three Linodes 512, 1024, 2048. Rebooted all. All still show 4 cores in >htop

    Bad luck, servers beging retired, or user error?

  63. Not thrilled with this latest upgrade. Few Linode customers were bottlenecked by CPU performance, so most Linode customers will see no benefit from this upgrade.

    Disk space, on the other hand, is actively preventing us from doing things with our Linode that we’d like to do.

  64. @Zuke: you likely have an .htoprc, or whatever it’s called, in your homedir that’s set to only display CPUs 1-4. Run ‘nproc’ or cat /proc/cpuinfo to see what your machine booted with.

  65. You guys rock!

    .htoprc was the culprit. Deleting restarting htop shows 8 cores.

  66. As a brand new Linode customer (started last week) I am really happy with the product and service. However, if there is one gripe I have is the cost of ram.

    Each current plan needs to at least be doubled for ram (if not tripled) at these price points for Linode to remain competitive in this market. Just my 2 cents worth :)

  67. Will this new hardware be available at all datacenters? (London?)

  68. I really hope they massively increase the ram.

    Not just 2x but more like 6x ram upgrade

  69. Thanks for the upgrade… just rebooted and now I see 8 cores as promised.

  70. Moar RAM is coming, I can feel it!

  71. This is really great! Thanks! Rebooted and am loving the additional cores!

  72. Excellent !! thank you guys

  73. I think RAM will be next. It makes perfect sense. More cores don’t mean much if you don’t have the RAM to support the number of processes that will run on them :D

    Thank you very much linode :)

  74. Thanks for the additional cores and looking forward to migrating to the new chipset. Further, hope more memory is in store, Varnish is hungry.

  75. Linode is just the best. Thanks, Linode.

  76. fingers crossed for the RAM, it seems that is the most anticipated upgrade for many, I agree with many here that due to modern caching techniques bottlenecks occur in RAM before CPUs.

    Still, good upgrade, one happy customer…

    Thanks,
    Paul :-)

  77. I’d like some infinite sized disk space store, that I could mount.

  78. The extra cores aren’t of a lot of use to me (except maybe for higher InnoDB concurrency) but the faster cores are.

    What will be involved in getting a system migrated to the new hardware? How much downtime will there be?

    Anyway, I’m crossing my fingers for more RAM in the 3rd phase. RAM density and number of slots per CPU have increased significantly over the past few years so they shouldn’t have any issues getting a LOT more memory into each physical server without significantly increasing the cost.

  79. Jason, depends on disk usage mainly. It’s usually about 1min/GB

  80. I really want to see Linode close the pricing gap with providers like DigitalOcean. They don’t need to match it, but it hurts seeing a $20 2GB instance at DO while paying $80 for one at Linode. That’s just such an insanely large gap that it’s hard to not consider the possibility of switching. Closing that gap, at least to some degree, would make it a lot easier to justify staying put.

  81. looking forward for ram upgrades!

  82. What about having some SSD availiable, as a /scratch so your Linode isnt running off it, but the working set of your data is

  83. I applaud you on the conservative HDD choice — the main downtime-causing problems I’ve had on Linodes to date has been I/O bottlenecks as a result of processes running out of physical memory and turning to swap. I can’t imagine MLC SSDs would improve this much — IME the stalling could get worse with cheap SSDs.

    Also, just to continue being a squeaky wheel — I’ve asked here and on IRC before… payment with Bitcoin would be very much appreciated. It doesn’t mean I want to be anonymous; it just means I want to pay in BTC.

  84. Waiting for the Free RAM upgrades.

    I am currently hosting my websites on Dedicated servers but the reliability of Linode is really better than my current server. If they increased the RAM on their plans then there would be more reasons to come back home to Linode :)

  85. I restarted, but /proc/cpuinfo says I’m still running the L5520. I haven’t received a ticket yet. When can I expected to be upgraded?

  86. 8 Cores with 2TB traffic. Linode, you just make others’ fight tougher.

  87. Would Linode be considering using SSD as swap space then? Totally removing SSD from the equation to me is insane.

    I am hoping for a surprise on Memory upgrade ( something more then 2x )

  88. Thank you. Fastest reboot I’ve ever done. And yup, there they are.

    I’m happy.

  89. Waiting for that memory upgrade……… hoping for an announcement soon! The suspense is weighing on me. :)

  90. So does the new network upgrade give good QoS for services like VOIP?

    Loving the upgrades but just had an ‘out of memory’ on my linode so fingers crossed RAM is part 3 and I/O is part 4

  91. Well, so far no news about memory increase. I must say I’m about to migrate to DO, after over 2 years of Linode, thats sad, but another problem I’m having is the high latency on SSH from south-america, unacceptable.

  92. Hello, after restart I see my 8 cores which is great. But the cpu is E5-2650L. Does this mean that the server I´m on is one of those 1/4?
    Thank you.

  93. I am waiting for the announcement too. (http://blog.serverbear.com/interview/linode/)

    Really enjoy the 8 cores performance, however, I believe memory is bottleneck for MySQL servers.

    Thanks,

  94. Not sure of the accuracy but recently came across https://twitter.com/asbradbury/status/312984696852185088

  95. I was wondering on the issues of memory. 2 * 8GB instances would have been cheaper then 1*16GB instance. And i dont get why after 16, it isn’t 32GB and 64GB. Why the strange 20GB and 40GB?

    ( I am guessing with 128GB Per Server, that is 3 Client possible in 1, but what is the 8GB left for ? )

    Anything in between 8GB and 40GB is more expensive then buying multiple of 8GB. Strange?

    And with those old servers, would Linode provide cheaper options for high memory usage.

  96. @tasaro I filed a ticked but was told I couldn’t manually move to a new host, FYI.

  97. @MJ maybe they have not deployed any new hardware in that location yet?

    Also got a question will newly made linode’s be put on new hardware?

  98. @stephen Well, if it’s indeed a 2x ram increase, than I am afraid I’ll stick with the competition. If more, than I’ll probably switch back to Linode.

  99. It seems there is no upgrade for memory.

    Based on what my app’s needs, I think that i have to move my server to DO.

    I like the CPU power here, however it is kind of not the most needed resources for now.

  100. @Peter, or may be they will Double the Ram while starting price @ $15?

    And where is the third part of the NextGen series. Still waiting.

  101. Was there supposed to be a third part? Couldn’t tell.

  102. A lot of moaners commenting :P

  103. Well,
    this week is about to end, and Chris told us that the announcment of the 3rd NextGen will be this week.

  104. I restart my linodes this morning and indeed there are now 8 CPU. Thanks!

    What I would like to see is the Linode DNS manager to push changes quicker.

  105. So why did my nodes migrate onto a 2630L’s

  106. It seems that in the London datacentre we’re getting 2650L’s @ 1.8Ghz, not 2670′s at 2.6Ghz. Are these considered part of the next gen spec, or will they be upgraded at some point?

  107. Ah, looks like we’re getting the 2670s now.

  108. Great, thanks Linode

  109. I may be mistaken but is the kernel build benchmark above performed on an unloaded host? :)

  110. Linode is losing ground by not having SSDs. They are too late to the SSD VPS battle even if they added b4 2014. A quick check on sites like Serverbear and you’ll find a swarm of hosts who have added SSD hosting options. I’ve already move 4 Magento (database-heavy) clients from Linode to other SSD based VPS hosting options at reduced costs, with night and day difference in performance! Still Linode has such a feature rich, flexible and easy to use GUI, plus their wiki/docs are extensive! So overall, a solid offering, as such its sad because more and more hosting decisions only consider SSD options now. :/

  111. @Hayden, how many years have you been running on said SSD VPSs? I wish you the best on your Magento instances, I think it’s a risk running such sites on SSD (Intel 520) alone. Actually if you’re really running 4 Magento instances you should just go with dedicated servers, but I know you have to make a living too. :)

  112. @cp10 The very next month Linode ran SSD beta:
    https://forum.linode.com/viewtopic.php?f=26&t=10406

    As the blog post above shows, Linode knew SSDs would be in their future. I’m waiting to move many assets over to Linode as well as client referrals. DO’s IP restriction has tons of users either frustrated or not using their service at all. I think once Linode launched this, they will position themselves as the most complete and flexible service available!

    Most of my Magento clients are now hosted by LiquidWeb SSD VPSs and also private SSD hosting. I think Linode will beat their prices but still once moved, its not as easy to have a happy client move again.

    Still it will be nice to have another SSD service to recommend.

Leave a Reply