Red Hat's PV drivers boosts performance of Windows, older Linux guests on Xen-based RHEL 5

Red Hat has significantly sped up the performance of Windows and Linux guests running on its Xen-based Red Hat Enterprise 5 platform.The Raleigh, NC software company released on May 20 paravirtualized drivers that significantly improve the performance of older Red Hat Enterprise 3 and 4 workloads on its current Linux platform.

Red Hat has significantly sped up the performance of Windows and Linux guests running on its Xen-based Red Hat Enterprise 5 platform.

The Raleigh, NC software company released on May 20 paravirtualized drivers that significantly improve the performance of older Red Hat Enterprise 3 and 4 workloads on its current Linux platform.

And in several weeks, Red Hat will release a similar set of para-virtualized drivers  for Windows guests running on the RHEL 5 host, Jan Mark Holzer, a senior consulting engineer at Red Hat, told this blogger on Thursday.

Like the PV drivers for older Red Hat operating systems, the PC drivers for Windows will give end users a tenfold increase in throughout performance and a reduction in CPU cycle rates, said one Red Hat consulting executive.

The first implementation of the open source Xen hypervisor debuted in RHEL 5 in early 2007.  Red Hat 3 and 4 Linux operating system workloads have always been capable of running as guests on RHEL 5, the RHEL 5.1 update launched last October, and recently RHEL 5.2 update but they have suffered significant performance degradation due to their inability to exploit key hardware resources. Neither RHEL 3 nor RHEL 4 incorporate support Xen. Xen was backported to RHEL 4.5.

“The performance boost is the big win with the PC drivers,” said Holzer, noting that use of the PV drives eliminates the need for an emulation layer. “This lets you bypass IO emulation.  Before, what you couldn’t do is leverage hardware performance such as Fibre channel or iSCSI so you were artificially limited in throughput. "

Once the new PV drivers are installed,  guest workloads can drive network and storage cards at full speed, yielding an overall tenfold improvement of tenfold in performance. The PV drivers for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 3 and 4 are available via download at no charge to any Red Hat customer with a RHEL subscription.  The PV drivers for Wndows will be available in a few weeks, he said.