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Games Hardware

An Inside Look At Warhammer Online's Server Setup 71

An article at Gamasutra provides some details on the hardware Mythic uses to power Warhammer Online, courtesy of Chief Technical Officer Matt Shaw and Online Technical Director Andrew Mann. Quoting: "At any given time, approximately 2,000 servers are in operation, supporting the gameplay in WAR. Matt Shaw commented, 'What we call a server to the user, that main server is actually a cluster of a number of machines. Our Server Farm in Virginia, for example,' Mann said, 'has about 60 Dell Blade chassis running Warhammer Online — each hosting up to 16 servers. All in all, we have about 700 servers in operation at this location.' ... 'We use blade architecture heavily for Warhammer Online,' Mann noted. 'Almost every server that we deploy is a blade system. We don't use virtualization; our software is somewhat virtualized itself. We've always had the technology to run our game world across several pieces of hardware. It's application-layer clustering at a process level. Virtualization wouldn't gain us much because we already run very close to peak CPU usage on these systems.' ... The normalized server configuration — in use across all of the Mythic-managed facilities — features dual Quad-Core Intel Xeon processors running at 3 GHz with 8 GB of RAM."
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An Inside Look At Warhammer Online's Server Setup

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  • by sleeper0 ( 319432 ) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @02:52AM (#30603456)
    Sponsored Feature: Restless Entities Never Sleep -- The Back End of Warhammer Online: Age of Reckoning

    New features enhance the overall gaming experience, such as Intel Turbo Boost Technology (to maximize speed for demanding applications), Intel Hyper-Threading Technology (for advanced multi-tasking and support for up to eight threads), and Intel Smart Cache (to provide a higher performing, more efficient cache subsystem). Experience Warhammer Online in its best light with the processor that has become the gold standard in the gaming world, the Intel Core i7 processor Extreme Edition.

  • by sleeper0 ( 319432 ) on Thursday December 31, 2009 @03:02AM (#30603504)
    Ahh, I was trying to figure out how I missed that - turns out the link to the article starts you on the second page where the disclaimer is nowhere to be found. Not that it's a dig on gamasutra as it's clearly stated in the title. Just wish /. had mentioned it before I read most of the way through and was wondering why I felt like I was reading and intel ad.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 31, 2009 @03:06AM (#30603522)

    I just checked. Server status page shows 7 servers, down from the 15 that remained in the middle of March 2009 after they shut down 63 servers.

  • Re:Virtualization (Score:5, Informative)

    by mlts ( 1038732 ) * on Thursday December 31, 2009 @08:10AM (#30604250)

    Virtualization gives some advantages:

    1: You can move the VM between physical hardware with little trouble. Power off VM, robocopy the files, power it on. For older Windows operating systems that required a reinstall if the underlying HAL changed, this is a large lifesaver.

    2: Fast backups with the snapshot functionality.

    3: Cloning -- need more instances, grab more hardware, fire up Hyper-V or ESXi, slap the VM on and go to town.

    4: Clustering -- several physical machines can host one VM through a SAN and if one box fails, the failover can pick up where the main machine left off on the machine (not the app) level. This means you don't need to worry about how apps will deal with jumping MACs or hardware changes unexpectedly.

    5: Security. If a VM got infected, it can be powered off and rolled back to a safe snapshot, and also a snapshot taken of its dirty state for forensics.

    6: Ability to run on future hardware. Say everyone ditches x86 and amd64 and decides to go to IBM's POWER architecture and emulate legacy stuff. The stuff in the VM won't care that is is actually isn't running on a different CPU.

    Of course, virtualization's disadvantage is performance losses due to the added overhead of more context switching.

    For a MMO, virtualization isn't really needed except at the database core. If a zone server [1] goes down, there will be people nerd raging on the forums, but in reality if someone gets to it in 24 hours or so, people won't be pulling their subscriptions. The only real thing that would cause people to bail is a large player database rollback, so days to weeks of playing are lost. However if you have a good database cluster, this isn't going to happen.

    Virtualization is just one of many IT tools. Sometimes it is an excellent thing to have. Other times, there isn't any real need to have it, especially for CPU intensive stuff on a server that can be cloned or easily reimaged with the apps on it.

    [1]: I'm assuming zone servers handle the combat mechanics, only sending updates to the core player database when a player loots an item, dies, logs out, disconnects, or at a periodic interval if nothing else changes.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 31, 2009 @10:16AM (#30604824)

    About WAR Mac Version

    WAR for the Mac is made possible using the Cider Portability Engine from TransGaming that acts as a "wrapper" around the game software, enabling it to run seamlessly on Intel-based Macs. TransGaming's Cider technology allows Mythic Entertainment to rapidly enable and deploy WAR for the Mac, providing a new high quality gaming experience to the ever-growing Mac gaming community.

    So no, that's not a Mac client. That's a pile of emulated Windows shit.

    Using Cider to "port" a game to the Mac is like a car company painting two extra doors on their two-doors cars and calling them four-doors.

e-credibility: the non-guaranteeable likelihood that the electronic data you're seeing is genuine rather than somebody's made-up crap. - Karl Lehenbauer