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Case Study

Posted by Jon Wood on Nov 30, 2005  | Comments

Case Study - MMORPG.com

EVE Online and Texas Memory Systems have released a case study, talking about how the game's high and record-breaking PCU can slow the game down, causing players to become frustrated and leave for greener (or faster) pastures. The Solution? We'll let you read on and see:

RamSan Success Stories: CCP Games Problem: 17,000 concurrent users causing sluggish OLTP response

"The effect of the RamSan was immediate on both system performance and customer satisfaction," Hilmar V. Pétursson, CEO, CCP

CCP Games has created the virtual reality game, EVE Online, with true human emotions in a living and evolving world. EVE Online is the world's largest game universe with over 75,000 dedicated subscribers who play this Massively Multiplayer Online Role-playing Game (MMORPG) in a single, connected environment. Art, technology, and unbridled imagination fuse to create a persistent universe where everyone has a place with a gaming enjoyment that has no boundary. Players take on the role of spaceship pilots seeking fame, fortune, and adventure in a huge, complex, exciting, and hostile galaxy.

Players connect to the game servers via the Internet and interact in real time with other players worldwide. EVE Online is truly a massive multiplayer game, where all 75,000 plus subscribers inhabit the same game world, not split into smaller limited groups or "shards". The world of EVE Online is persistent, continuously evolving, and never sleeps. Intense graphics and sound add to the rich gaming experience, so it's no wonder that CCP Games' subscriber base continues to grow daily. CCP Games is unrelenting in its quest to maintain a fresh and challenging gaming experience to its ever-expanding universe of players. As popularity and complexity expands, so too does the need for responsiveness and performance.

Challenge: Scale to over 25,000 users with instant response times Immediate user access and application responsiveness are vital to success in the competitive online gaming market. Sluggish system response to player input is frustrating and may even result in players abandoning the game. In September 2005, EVE Online set a new record of over 15,000 concurrent users. CCP Games monitors its systems and player forums closely at all times to ensure player satisfaction. As more players came online simultaneously, the EVE Online servers were having performance degradation problems. Players were becoming frustrated as frequently accessed game features were taking up to 20 seconds to load.

The degrading performance potentially compromised CCP Games' mission of attracting and retaining customers by providing top quality online entertainment, based in part on maintaining quality of service. Performance analysis revealed that disk queues were 40 requests deep. Microsoft recommends upgrading hardware if disk queues exceed 3. Better hardware is needed if more users are accessing a server.

The EVE Online application software was running fast and scaling well to accommodate tens of thousands of simultaneous users with its 150 IBM servers. However, the system's storage was being overwhelmed with huge amounts of small data requests. Ideal RAID Storage performance is achieved when the requested data blocks are large; conversely, RAID Storage performance is greatly reduced when requested data blocks are small. Typical disk access times are 2-5 milliseconds and what was needed was a faster disk access time of 20-50 microseconds.

The Solution: RamSan-400 (Solid State Disk)

The RamSan-400 delivers 400,000 I/Os per second, has 3,000 MB of internal bandwidth with latency of less than 15 microseconds. "We did consider upgrading to faster disks, but the specs for the RamSan were so insane that we had to look into it", said Jörundur Matthíasson, Database Manager for CCP Games.

[ expand article ]

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