Daily Archives: February 18, 2012
With the launch of Tahiti behind them, AMD is now firing on all cylinders to get the rest of their Southern Islands lineup out the door. Typically we’d see AMD launch their GPUs in descending order of performance, but this time AMD is taking a slight detour. Rather than following up the Tahiti based 7900 series with the Pitcairn based 7800 series, AMD is instead going straight to the bottom and launching the Cape Verde based 7700 series first.
Today AMD will be launching two cards based on the Cape Verde GPU: the Radeon HD 7750, and the Radeon HD 7770 GHz Edition. As the Juniper based 5700 series never got a proper Northern Islands successor, this is the first real update for the x700 series since the launch of the 5700 series in October of 2009. Given the success of the 5700 expectations are going to be high, and to fulfill those expectations AMD will be bringing to bear their new GCN architecture along with a full node jump with TSMC’s 28nm process. But will this be enough to enable the 7700 series to replicate the success of the 5700 series? Let’s find out.
Best PC monitor: how to choose
We’ve said it before, we’re going to damn well say it again, and we’re going keep saying it over and over until somebody starts listening.
By far and away and without a shadow of a doubt, the best long term investment you can make for your PC is a decent screen. Repeat, LCD screen.
That’s especially true at the top-end of the market, where some specs have stagnated. Back in 2006, the pinnacle of PC screendom was 30 inches and a native resolution of 2,560 x 1,600. Fast forward to the dawn of 2012 and absolutely nothing has changed. That’s still as good as it gets.
In fact, if anything, prices of premium panels have hardened. Premium 24-inch monitors based on the better VA and IPS panels are quite possibly more expensive than they were five or six years ago. The problem is the market for higher-priced panels – there isn’t one.
People buy almost purely on price; they just want cheap and cheerful. That said, this obsession with cheaper screens means the focus is on squeezing the most out of a sub-£300 budget.
Today, that figure doesn’t just secure full HD resolutions and stretch to 27-inch and even 28-inch monitors, it also bags you a multi-function monitor packing everything from an integrated TV tuner to full stereoscopic 3D support using the technology of your choice.
Until recently, what you wouldn’t get was anything other than TN technology for the panel, but there are now some exceptions. Along with some affordable VA panels, the new kid on the block is e-IPS tech, which is effectively a cheaper version of the IPS screens favoured for their colour reproduction and found in many premium devices including, yes you guessed it, Apple’s iPhone and iPad gadgets.
As for the TN masses, the good news is that the technology continues to improve, closing the gap with IPS and VA. It’s also worth noting that the increasingly widespread use of LED backlighting, even at the arse end of the market, has given TN a kick up the backside too.
All of which means there’s serious value to be had if you know what you’re buying, which is exactly where this month’s LCD panelfest comes in.
Every screen purchase should start from a position of informed awareness. You need to know what you’re buying and that means getting to grips with the different panel technologies. Yup, we have been here before, but given the lengths some monitor makers go to obscure and obfuscate the underlying technology, it’s more critical than ever to know your TNs from your PVAs.
I DREAM OF 3D: If slaying dragons in 3D appeals then look for a screen with 3D support
From the top, the cheapest and most commonly used panel tech is our old friend TN. Otherwise known as ‘twisted nematic’, in layman’s terms the thing that really matters about TN technology is that the liquid crystals in each picture cell are effectively fixed at one end. When an electrical current is applied, the crystals twist rather than rotate.
This explains TN’s strengths and its weaknesses. The tension involved in twisting crystals in one direction means they pop back the other way more rapidly. The result? Fast pixel response.
Of course, with one end fixed, you never get the full rotation achieved by other LCD tech, which means light isn’t managed as accurately or blocked as fully. Result? Inferior colour accuracy, less expansive viewing angles and poorer contrast.
One of the specific consequences of the restricted crystal articulation is the need for dithering. TN panels can’t natively display as many colours as IPS and VA screens. The solution involves forcing pixels to jump rapidly between two colour states in order to fool the human eye into observing a third, incremental colour. In theory, it should be invisible. In practice, it’s sometimes possible to see the pixels fizzing away as they hop between colours.
Everything is relative though. Ongoing improvement of TN technology has given us panels superior in some regards to IPS panels of six or seven years ago.
What’s more, it’s not just the panel technology that has improved. The market-wide shift from CCFL backlights to LED technology has been a big help for TN screens. You get a broader spectrum of light, which helps compensate for the inherently poor colours. So, TN monitors with LED backlights are more vibrant and sock you with more saturated colours. Yay!
Despite all of this, there are limitations to TN, and they can be spotted on the spec sheets. That’s true even when the monitor maker doesn’t deign to mention the panel type. Unfortunately, that’s pretty frequent.
Anyway, the markers you’re looking for go something like this. Start with the viewing angles, the metrics manufacturers use vary, but if either figure is under 170°, you’re looking at a TN. Typically a vertical angle of 160° really gives the game away.
The other major give away is contrast. The tricky thing here is that dynamic contrast – in other words, contrast achieved by modulating the backlight – is often the only figure quoted. Any figure of roughly 5,000 to one or greater will be the dynamic rating. If it’s lower than that, it’s likely to be contrast with a static backlight.
THE WINKING SKEEVER: "Skyrim belongs to the Nords!"
Until recently, anything capable of 1,000 to one or more for static contrast was very likely to be VA or IPS. More recently, TN monitors capable of 1,000 to one static contrast have appeared.
At the same time, VA and IPS panels have upped their game. So any quoted figure above 1,000 to one (but below 5,000 to one) will indicate a panel other than TN.
The final give away is price, but here again, things have begun to change. Until recently, VA and IPS panels were always much more expensive. The good news is that lower cost derivatives, including e-IPS and MVA, are becoming ever more common. It’s now possible, for instance, to buy a 24-inch MVA screen for under £180. If that’s TN, what about the other two?
Our next candidate is ‘In-Plane Switching’ or IPS technology. It occupies completely the opposite end of the scale from TN for everything from price to colour accuracy.
Critically, where other panel technologies include a single controller transistor per subpixel, IPS packs a pair and offers superior crystal control and, in turn, the best colour accuracy. Of course, increase a product’s complexity and you increase costs. But that’s not the only downside – the extra transistors also block light. That makes IPS notably less vibrant and saturated than the best VA panels.
Another upside of IPS is extremely wide and consistent viewing angles. Unlike TN crystals with their rooted ends, the liquid crystals in an IPS panel rotate fully about their axis. That matters because it allows them to present a more consistent face to the viewer at varying angles and means a more constant quantity of light passes the red, green and blue subpixels regardless of the viewing angle. In other words, you don’t get wonky colours if you sit in an off-centre position at your desk.
There is, however, a snag. That greater range of crystal articulation translates into longer response times when transitioning between extreme colours. The longer that process takes, the blurrier a panel looks when rendering moving images.
That said, just as TN technology is closing the gap for colours and contrast, IPS screens keep getting faster. Factor in the static fidelity advantages and it’s easy to see why IPS is the tech of choice for graphics professionals.
CAUGHT IN LIMBO: VA panels would suit cult smash hits such as Limbo well
The last of our trio of panel technologies is VA or ‘Vertical Alignment’. There are two types of VA panels, PVA (Patterned Vertical Alignment) and MVA (Multidomain Vertical Alignment).
PVA is more common, but both share the same basic characteristics and give similar image quality. For the most part, VA panels fall half way between TN and IPS technology. In terms of cost, colour accuracy and pixel response, VA panels split the difference.
That said, VA screens also have a number of distinct characteristics that set them apart. Most notably, the default position of the liquid crystals in a VA pixel blocks light from passing through. The upshot is that VA screens deliver the deepest, inkiest blacks of any panel type, and the best static contrast ratios.
Colour saturation is another plus point for VA screens, even if outright colour accuracy is a click or two behind the best IPS screens.
Colour gamut is another VA strong point. Like IPS technology, VA panels are typically true 8-bit per colour channel. That means colour dithering isn’t necessary.
Overall, VA panels give the most vibrant, eye-catching image quality of any LCD technology. The richness and depth of a good VA monitor is spectacular. For that reason, many high-end HDTVs, including Samsung and Sony sets, use PVA LCD panels.
If VA technology does have a weakness, it’s pixel response. In an attempt to reduce response times, many VA monitors use a technology known as pixel overdrive. While it can be effective for speeding up pixel response, it creates problems of its own, including input lag and inverse ghosting.
The spiel here involves altering the colour of a pixel. That requires a change in the voltage applied. The idea behind overdrive is to either increase or reduce the voltage fed to any given pixel more acutely than required for the target colour state. This accelerates the pixel towards the new colour state more rapidly. Before the pixel can overshoot the target colour, the voltage is normalised.
Tricks of the trade
NEW KEN ON THE BLOCK: Badly overdriven panels can exhibit inverse ghosting, blighting your image with nasty colour trails
That’s the theory, at least. Overdriven panels are definitely sharper when displaying movement, but close inspection of some overdriven monitors reveals something slightly rotten.
The first problem is usually referred to as inverse ghosting. This often manifests as a trail of shadows in the wake of a moving object, approximately in the opposite colour to that object. It’s quite distinct, therefore, from the smeared trail seen on monitors with poor pixel response.
This is due to excessive overdrive leading to pixels overshooting the required colour state. Inverse ghosting can affect both TN and PVA panels with overdrive technology, but the other major problem – input lag, seems to be restricted to PVA screens.
The problem here is a measurable delay between the video signal being sent to the monitor and the screen responding with a refreshed image. Typically, this is noticed as a lag between a physical mouse input and the movement of the cursor, crosshair or application window on the screen.
Of course, the method of processing a digital signal results in at least some lag on all LCD screens compared to the instantaneous output of an analogue CRT monitor. Using a CRT monitor in cloned mode as a control device, LCD screens usually lag behind by 10 to 20 milliseconds. With some overdriven screens, this increases to 50 milliseconds or more.
The result is a sticky, disconnected feel on the desktop. That’s a serious problem for gaming, and can make first-person shooters in particular almost unplayable.
That’s the major panel technologies all summed up, but there are one or two universal issues to address. The first is video interfaces.
HARD TO PORT: The difference in display ports can seem confusing, but you can connect all of them up with the right cables
In theory, all the major digital interfaces are quite similar. You can’t see the difference between DVI, HDMI and DisplayPort on your screen.
In practice, however, HDMI can present problems. With certain video card and driver combos, HDMI connections can throw up scanning issues that prevent the panel running pixel for pixel. In other words, you can’t achieve native resolution, and that’s critical for any LCD.
Admittedly, most PCs won’t suffer from this problem, but when it does happen, it can be insurmountable short of buying a new video card. Our advice is not to go with any monitor that is restricted to HDMI.
Next up are the related issues of resolutions and aspect ratios. For the most part, the monitor industry has settled on full HD 1080p or 1,920 x 1,080 for the former and therefore 16:9 for the latter. The first implication of this is that it usually doesn’t matter what size screen you go for, your resolution and desktop space or in-game detail will be the same.
Indeed, you could argue larger screens look worse. You just end up with bigger, jaggier looking pixels. However, if you mainly use your PC for gaming, a bigger screen gives you the option of sitting further away. Larger panels are also handy for watching TV and movies, but there are a few exceptions to this rule of ubiquitous 1080p.
A few monitors are still available in 16:10 aspect. Most common among these are 24-inch panels with 1,920 x 1,200 pixel grids. That’s a useful dollop of vertical pixels. And let’s be clear, vertical pixels are really useful for normal PC usage rather than watching HD movies.
The best eyeful
STYLE ICON: Watch 3D and look like Michael Caine with Nvidia’s 3D Vision specs
A few monitors are available with the slightly higher 2,048 x 1,152 resolution. The problem is, it’s only a small increase over 1080p, and it’s still 16:9. Finally, at the top end you have the two ultra-high resolution panels in the shape of 27-inch running 2,560 x 1,440 pixels and 30-inch 2,560 x 1,600.
We’ve extensive experience running both of those options and we heavily favour the latter. It’s a subjective issue, but the 30-incher feels larger, more expansive and more luxurious well beyond the extra three inches and 160 vertical pixels.
Anyway, the great shame about these panels is that prices haven’t really shifted since the first 30-inchers appeared five or six years ago. You’re still looking at the best part of a grand for a 30-incher. The 27-inch alternative can be had from around £500, but that’s an awful lot to spend on something ever so slightly suboptimal.
Best PC Monitor: reviews 1-5
1. Asus PA238Q
Panel type: IPS Monitor
Fed up with cheap and not-always-cheerful monitors based on TN panel technology? Then get a load of the new Asus PA238Q. At around £235, it’s pricier than your average 23-inch TN screen. But joy of joys, it’s got an IPS panel.
IPS, of course, stands for ‘In-Plane Switching’ and it just so happens to be the finest panel technology known to man or beast. That’s why Apple, for instance, uses IPS exclusively in its iPhones and iPads. It’s simply the best when it comes to colour accuracy and viewing angles.
As it happens, colour accuracy is a big part of the remit for the Asus PA238Q. It’s pitched as a low-cost screen for the graphics professional. However, Asus is also claiming 6ms response times, which is very impressive for an IPS screen and makes for a tantalising all-round package.
Could this affordable, colour-accurate screen also be killer in-game and at the movies? There’s only one way to find out.
2. Asus VG278H
Panel type: TN Monitor
You know how it goes by now – a 3D monitor is a capable gaming screen that lacks colour quality of IPS panels and is slightly overpriced… Well this one’s different. The reason? LightBoost.
This is Nvidia’s big idea for improving 3D image quality. LightBoost is an extra layer that compensates for any dimness in the image, making it twice as bright as previous 3D screens. The shocker is that the LightBoost isn’t a fancy gimmick and actually does make a big difference.
That’s not this screen’s only endearing feature – there’s the height-adjustable bezel, a bundled pair of Nvidia 3D Vision 2 glasses and a 27-inch panel too.
We’re impressed with the effort Asus has gone to with the VG278H’s bezel. It’s rare to get a height-adjustable panel outside of IPS screens. In our opinion, the panel surround looks a little cheap and flimsy for over £500.
The screen itself is an LED-backlit TN, and as a result it’s image quality is a mixed bag. The screen suffered from gradient banding from white to black in our tests, displaying striped shades instead of smooth transitions. The viewing angle is also poor, and there’s some significant colour distortion at wider angles.
3. BenQ RL2240H
Panel type: TN Monitor
You’re a gamer, you’re on a tight budget and you need an LCD screen. Five years ago, we’d have pitied your predicament. Whatever you ended up with, it wasn’t going to be pretty. Fast forward to today and this gaming-optimised 22-inch panel is yours for just £110. And it’s full HD. Yippee.
That’s right, a full HD screen from a proper brand for £100 and the cost of a packet of fags. Ish. Give it up for globalisation and preposterously low electronics prices – but we digress.
Cost and relatively modest screen diagonal aside, this BenQ also claims to improve your gaming prowess in RTS games. What you’re actually getting is an operating mode with colours and contrast tweaked for the demands of RTS games.
If we’re really honest, as with most preset modes, we probably wouldn’t bother. The difference is marginal at best, and where it is noticeable, not unambiguously for the better.
4. BenQ EW2730V
Panel type: VA Monitor
Fitness for purpose. More than anything, that’s what this big BenQ delivers. It would be all too easy to immediately disregard it based on its humdrum 1,920 x 1,080 native resolution. After all, you can have precisely the same pixel grid for a little over £100.
Okay, at that price point, you’ll be squeezing those pixels into a much smaller 22-inch LCD panel. But when it comes to apps and web surfing, it’s pixel count not screen diagonal that really matters. You get no more viewable Windows desktop with this £300, 27-inch screen than you do from BenQ’s £110 special offer 1080p (opposite). But what if it’s games and movies above all else you want to your screen for?
In that scenario, the BenQ EW2730V might just be purpose personifi ed. For starters, BenQ has given it a glorious, luxurious VA or Vertical Alignment panel. That’s not just any VA panel, but one from the very latest generation, complete with a claimed contrast performance of 3,000:1. Then there are 178° viewing angles in both planes; an LED backlight; a gorgeous looking chassis and stand replete with slithers of brushed alloy.
5. Dell UltraSharp U2412M
Panel type: IPS Monitor
An affordable alternative to the daily drudgery of TN technology. Please tell us it’s not too much to ask for, surely. Finally, mercifully it’s becoming a reality. For proof, look no further than Dell’s new UltraSharp U2412M.
At £275, it would be awfully pricey for a TN 24-inch, but it’s still a lot cheaper than your typical premium IPS and PVA panel, which tend to slot in at around £400 to £600. And yet what we have here is a bona fide, card-carrying IPS panel.
Okay, it’s e-IPS, the prefix indicating a new generation of lower-cost IPS screens, but it’s IPS all the same. Cue much rejoicing.
Glance at the spec sheet and you’ll discover that Dell has addressed another of our panel pecadillos. The U2412M sports a 1,920 x 1,200 pixel grid, and, therefore, a 16:10 aspect ratio. That might not sound like a big difference from the 1,920 x 1,080 native resolution that’s become dominant in recent years – as after all, how much difference can those extra 120 vertical pixels really make?
Best PC Monitor: reviews 6-9 and verdict
6. LG DM2350D
Panel type: IPS Monitor
A TV screen that does the lot – that’s the plan for the new LG DM2350D Cinema 3D Monitor TV. It’s a full HD PC monitor, it’s also a digital TV with an integrated DVB tuner and IR remote, but the LG’s real party piece is that it throws stereoscopic 3D into the mix. What’s more, it all comes in a compact package that does a half decent impression of a miniature high-end HDTV.
If you’re short on space and want style, you could do an awful lot worse. As a monitor for a desktop or portable PC, the LG is pretty much par for the course. It’s a 23-inch panel with a full-HD 1,920 x 1,080 pixel grid. At this price point – and bearing in mind the built-in tuner and 3D support – it’s no surprise to find that the underlying technology is TN.
That said, LG’s latest effort is one of the better TN panels that we’ve seen. Part of the explanation is the use of an LED backlight. The result is richer, more saturated colours than you get with a TN panel powered by an old school CCFL lamp. Like most TN screens, pixel response is excellent, too, making this screen a great choice for keen gamers.
7. Philips Brilliance 248C3LHSB
Panel type: TN Monitor
There’s a parallel universe where we’re all millionaires, our PCs are hooked up to 30-inch LED-powered beasts with 120Hz refresh. Life is pretty sweet.
Back in this universe, compromises must be made. Which is where the Philips Brilliance comes in. It’s the solution, or so Philips hopes, to the following crucial conundrum: just how much screen can you get for under £200?
The real answer begins with 24-inches or more accurately 23.6-inches of corner to corner screen diagonal. Next up is 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. It’s the full HD grid, then. Finally, and rather predictably, you get TN panel technology. More on that in a moment.
Because one thing you might not expect to get at this price point is a really classy chassis and stand. But that’s precisely what Philips has come up with. Granted, the stand is limited to tilt-only adjustment. That aside, it’s a remarkable high quality effort which leverages cast aluminium for the base and both looks and feels positively pukka.
8. Samsung 5 Series T27A550
Panel type: TN Monitor
Movies, games, PC and TV – can a single screen really deliver on each and every count? That’s the challenge for the new Samsung Series 5 T27A550 HDTV monitor.
It’s a 27-inch beast with an integrated digital TV tuner and enough inputs to soak up everything from desktop PCs to games consoles and set-top boxes. It’s the total video solution.
That it’s also priced at just £240; looks a little like a miniature high-end HDT; sports a full HD 1,920 x 1,080 pixel grid and comes complete with an IR remote just sweetens the deal. It’s an awful lot of screen, features and technology for your money.
Of course, HDTV prices have been tumbling of late. A 32-inch HDTV can be had for under £250. Likewise, pretty much any HDTV with an HDMI port is capable of doubling as a monitor for a PC or a screen for gaming console and set-top box larks.
It’s also worth noting that the panel itself is based on TN technology. At this price that’s inevitable. But it’s worth remembering that large, expensive HDTVs use more sophisticated VA or IPS technology.
9. Samsung 8 Series S27A850D
Panel type: PLS Monitor
We have a habit of relentlessly banging the TN-vs-the-rest drum. But we do it because we care. Both about technology and your very fine elves. Sorry, selves.
Samsung’s all-new S27A850D has us at something of a disadvantage. Many of its on-paper specs are thoroughly familiar. A 27-inch diagonal and 2,560 x 1,440 native resolution puts it firmly in the premium, high resolution camp. Bung in a static contrast ratio of 1,000 to one and you might assume you’re looking at yet another screen sporting LG’s familiar 27-inch IPS panel. Yes, the same one used by Apple in its 27-inch iMac.
On the other hand, Samsung is one of the very small handful of outfits with the gumption to fabricate its own LCD panels. Manufacturing the substrates that form the basis of large, full-colour is a criminally complex and expensive process.
Consequently, around five to six companies make nearly all the LCD substrates worldwide. And that in turn means that Samsung in not normally in the business of buying in panels.
And the winner is… Asus PA238Q
Not enough real choice. Until very recently, that’s been the problem with LCD panels. Almost everything remotely affordable had a TN panel and 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. But no longer.
This month’s screen test includes all shapes and sizes, including the welcome return of the 16:10 aspect ratio and, critically, all manner of panel types, including an all-new technology from Samsung.
Prices at the high end are steep at £550, but there’s some serious quality to be had from as little as £200. What’s more, previously costly panel technology at more affordable prices has pushed decent TN monitors even lower. You can now get a very reasonable screen for little more than £100. On to the final reckoning.
Unlike previous screen group tests, there are no real stinkers this time round, but somebody has to come last and that dubious honour goes jointly to the Philips Brilliance 248C3LHSB and Samsung 5 Series T27A550.
The Philips is an expensive, plain ol’ 24-inch TN panel that lacks DVI connectivity, which is a pain with AMD graphics cards. The Sammy 5 Series, meanwhile, packs a lot of features into its generous 27-inch, TN-powered proportions, including a TV tuner, but it doesn’t do anything particularly well, and again, that missing DVI port could prove painful.
Another screen that does no real wrong is Asus’s immense VG278H, but at well over £500, you’re being asked to pay a big premium for that integrated Nvidia 3D Vision support.
Indeed, if stereoscopic 3D is your bag, we’d probably settle for LG’s 23-inch DM2350D. It’s smaller, and its polarised 3D technology doesn’t work as well as Nvidia’s active shutter solution. But it’s well under half the price of the Asus and adds an integrated TV tuner.
Meanwhile, if you want to match the big Asus’s screen diagonal but don’t care for stereoscopic 3D, the BenQ EW2730V blows it away for raw image quality and will save you around £230.
Next up is Dell’s UltraSharp U2412M. With so much going for it on paper, it was our favourite to come out on top. After all, an IPS panel, 16:10 aspect ratio and fully adjustable stand for under £300 are exactly what we’ve been begging for. It is good, but just not as brilliant as we’d been hoping for.
Which is pretty much the opposite of what we’d say for the BenQ RL2240H. At £110 our expectations weren’t high, and let’s be clear, in absolute terms there are many better screens here. But it’s still a stunning effort for so little money and a sheer delight for anyone on a tight budget. It really is a most tolerable monitor.
Right at the opposite end of the scale is Samsung’s epic S27A850D and its fancy new PLS panel tech. It’s a fabulous screen that delivers the best elements of PVA and IPS technology in a single screen. It’s got an understated but flexible and well-made chassis, too. And it’d be a winner save for a single flaw. At £550 it’s simply too expensive.
All of which means our winner is the Asus PA238Q. How Asus can deliver such a screen at this price point is a mystery. The gorgeous IPS panel would be enough, but Asus has also conjured up a great chassis and factory colour calibration and kept the whole thing within spitting distance of £200. It’s a simply stunning effort.
We have had epic discussions with quite a few readers about the importance of virtualization in our reviews. In our six-core Opteron review we wrote:
"Let there be no misunderstanding: how well a new Server CPU handles virtualization determines whether it is a wallflower or a blockbuster."
Even back in 2008, IDC expected that 52% of the servers would be used for virtualization, but in other reports the numbers were significantly lower. For example, more recently (April 2011) IDC reported that about 20% of all newly purchased servers are used in virtualized environments. No doubt there is some confusion between buying a server for virtualization and the numbers of workloads that find a home in a VM. IDC reports (Dec 2010) that more than 70% of applications are running inside a VM, but there is more.
The 20% virtualized servers number seems low, but you have to drill down a bit in the data. First of all, when we focus on the "mature" markets (US, Europe, Japan, Parts of Asia) the percentage of virtualized servers rises to 30%. And if you then take into account that a few players, such as Google (installed base of 1 million servers), facebook (100k+ servers) and Intel (100k+ servers) are buying massive amounts of non-virtualized servers, you can understand the percentage of virtualized servers is a lot higher among the rest of the server market. In other words, if you do a survey among the server buyers (instead of looking at the server volumes), the percentage of people buying a server for virtualization is much higher. In fact, when we talked to several analysts they indicated that if you ignore the Googles and Facebooks of the earth, the virtualization rate of servers might be as high as 70%.
Not convinced yet? Well, luckily for us Canonical did a survey among 6000 (!) users of Ubuntu Server. Interestingly, 50% of the respondents stated that they use Ubuntu server as a guest OS inside a VM, in other words it runs virtualized. Although this is only a (small) part of the total server market, it is another datapoint that gives us an idea what these Opteron and Xeon boxes are used for.
Interestingly, VMware and not Xen or KVM are the most used hypervisors. To summarize, the percentage of servers bought for virtualization reported by IDC and others are heavily influenced by Google and other "Cloud" buyers. We suspect that a much higher percentage (than the quoted 30%) of the server buyers among our readers consider the virtualized benchmarks as the most important ones.
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