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ChicagoMikey

Game Servers on VPS

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Why does the words "Game Servers" and "VPS" have such a bad reputation? I know a few people who have saved money by renting a VPS to host a couple game servers and they had no complaints. Yet, others hate the idea of game servers on a VPS.

On another note, selling virtual private servers for game servers seems like an untapped market. I can only count a few GSPs who sell them. Is there a reason behind not selling VPSs for game servers?

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Well really a VPS is good for two things, hard disc and ram. The cpu is bogged with the VM/OS etc and is already at a limited quantity.

Now there are a few ways to do this over the "cloud" within vps, but it takes physical servers to back you up. There will be another added to that list in the coming weeks ;). Honestly though I think quite a few are scarred, most if not all of the large GSP (including game servers) run on VM VPS on there own dedicated boxes, for the simple fact of controllable, that way if one OS is compromised the whole server with say 512+ slots doesn't go down with it, just the 100 or so on the VM. That and you can control your assets per box more easily.

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Well really a VPS is good for two things, hard disc and ram. The cpu is bogged with the VM/OS etc and is already at a limited quantity.

Now there are a few ways to do this over the "cloud" within vps, but it takes physical servers to back you up. There will be another added to that list in the coming weeks ;). Honestly though I think quite a few are scarred, most if not all of the large GSP (including game servers) run on VM VPS on there own dedicated boxes, for the simple fact of controllable, that way if one OS is compromised the whole server with say 512+ slots doesn't go down with it, just the 100 or so on the VM. That and you can control your assets per box more easily.

You really don't make much sense. It greatly depends on type of virtualization. There is seriously almost no performance loss when using bare-metal hypervisors or hypervisors that aren't considered "software based". To dismiss the useability of VPS's because some providers oversell is ludicrous.

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Why does the words "Game Servers" and "VPS" have such a bad reputation? I know a few people who have saved money by renting a VPS to host a couple game servers and they had no complaints. Yet, others hate the idea of game servers on a VPS.

On another note, selling virtual private servers for game servers seems like an untapped market. I can only count a few GSPs who sell them. Is there a reason behind not selling VPSs for game servers?

There isn't really a "special" type of VPS for game server use. Pretty much any will work given it has decent virtualization and isn't oversold. I would assume most GPS's don't directly market it because of the loss in profit. The "good" hypervisors don't let you oversell RAM or hard disk space. You can do both when just sharing a server with multiple game servers which would result in a higher profit gain.

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Simple, most VPS out there that are not advertised as cloud ( Don't bash me for this, a cloud is basically still a vps just with benefits imo ), are Container based. They simple just lack the efficient Hypervisors based on Para-virtualization or bare-metal type servers.

Also latest Intel processors have Very low switching times compared to LGA775 (E54xx) based processors, The E56 and E7xxx series work best for virtualization, but most hosts out there just simply can't afford them lol. They always go for profit, instead of offering best for clients.

TL;DR:

-Container based VPS ( Virtuozzo ) BAD for game servers, instable FPS, constant "studderings"

-VMware hypervisors, or bare-metal = The best, sometimes offered as VDS

Personally, I'm currently developing a platform that are hosted in-house on EVGA SR-2 based dual hexcore processors. They run nice when at 4.0ghz :)

Add some fast DDR3 2000ram, and SSD's = the ultimate experience, though My home bandwidth simply can't cope with more than 2 10slots haha.

Edited by JosephWu
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JosephWu, most VPS providers use the term "cloud" to mean that their VMs use a shared central storage, and can be moved between physical nodes quickly because of this (through the use of live migration or the equivalent). When it comes to game server hosting, there's no real advantage to this, and there are actually a few disadvantages:

* Central storage tends to be lower-performance, unless it is a very high-end setup (game servers don't use the disk much anyway, but this can affect level load speeds, and latency on writes can make servers that write logs frequently run choppy)

* There's a single point of failure for all running VMs

* Being moved causes a hiccup in the server -- not all that noticeable for webhosting, but a big deal for game servers

* With a variety of hardware and software configurations in use and moves potentially occurring frequently, there is lower performance consistency

From a client perspective, I'd want to avoid a cloud-based solution. Having something closer to a full physical machine, with dedicated CPU cores, memory, and hard drive space on a local RAID, is the way to go for these.

You and Scott are correct that bare-metal hypervisors will have better resource separation, capabilities, and generally more consistent performance than container-based solutions, and they rank right up there with the speed of full hardware, when implemented right. It's important that the hypervisor being used supports hardware-assisted virtualization for Windows VMs (it's called HVM, for Xen) instead of trapping and emulating, and that there are drivers to ensure paravirtualized I/O operations.

As far as the processor, hardware-assisted virtualization is also supported for some pre-Nehalem processors, but the Nehalem/i7 architecture added some useful extensions and is much faster than prior generations of CPUs, so it's highly preferable.

Brandon, the bottleneck for VPSes varies from provider to provider depending on workloads and how much they load their machines, but it's generally accepted that I/O, and more specifically storage, is the most significant limiting element for a general-purpose setup. Even with a fast RAID-10, many customers are sharing the same storage subsystem, which means that others on the machine will notice when even one customer is heavily using the disks (such as by copying large files).

Memory is also a major factor, but at least one that's spelled out up-front -- and which bare-metal hypervisors (Xen/Hyper-V/VMware) should not allow to be oversubscribed. Avoid any provider that offers "burstable" RAM like the plague, because it means that the provider is running a container-based solution that allows oversubscription, and your "guaranteed" RAM can be swapped out to disk, destroying your server performance.

CPU is probably the biggest unknown quantity to consumers in this industry, and it's one that is very important for single-threaded, CPU-intensive workloads like game servers -- in my mind, more than any other factor, it's why any old VPS provider won't do for a game server. Many providers place a lot of VMs on a single host, and the CPU can become bogged down. You should go with a provider that can offer you a dedicated CPU core, or that has highly underloaded servers to the point that you always get your own anyway, to reduce scheduling overhead and make sure that your server can have a consistent large amount at all times.

TL;DR: Pick a provider that uses Xen/VMWare/Hyper-V, that can give you a dedicated CPU core on a static machine, and that preferably knows how to maximize performance for game servers

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As many others have already said, yes, VPS' do have a bad name, but this is due to the method of virtualisation.

Software based virtualisation quite simply does not lend itself to running high cpu intensive services, obviously game servers being one of them. Additionally VPS servers have no guarantee with regards to what else is runnibng on the box, and as such connections / bandwidth can also become an issue.

Hardware based virtualisation, (correctly called VDS not VPS), lends itself more to gaming in that the virtualisation is not managed by an overbogged software management system.

However running gaming services on a VDS can still come with woes, as with a VPS there is no control over what other services are running on the box, unless of course you are managing the hardware yourself. However as long as the host has configured the box correctly and can give guarantees on resource levels (Bandwidth included), then running game servers on them can be fine.

We ourselves actually offer VDS servers which are used specifically as clan dedi's, based on a mixture of VMWare and Citrix, and have never had a problem.

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You can easily host a server or two on a very good VPS (I wouldn't trust 1 server on a budget VPS). I do not see the market in this as gamepanel licensing is expensive and would not benefit having multiple licenses per VPS you set up. Unless you have an unlimited licensing plan which would mean a lot of Game Server Sales and a lot of VPS'. I think for most providers it is just easier to just rent or buy a machine and host an X amount of servers on it and being in control of things (performance wise).

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JosephWu, most VPS providers use the term "cloud" to mean that their VMs use a shared central storage, and can be moved between physical nodes quickly because of this (through the use of live migration or the equivalent). When it comes to game server hosting, there's no real advantage to this, and there are actually a few disadvantages:

* Central storage tends to be lower-performance, unless it is a very high-end setup (game servers don't use the disk much anyway, but this can affect level load speeds, and latency on writes can make servers that write logs frequently run choppy)

* There's a single point of failure for all running VMs

* Being moved causes a hiccup in the server -- not all that noticeable for webhosting, but a big deal for game servers

* With a variety of hardware and software configurations in use and moves potentially occurring frequently, there is lower performance consistency

From a client perspective, I'd want to avoid a cloud-based solution. Having something closer to a full physical machine, with dedicated CPU cores, memory, and hard drive space on a local RAID, is the way to go for these.

You and Scott are correct that bare-metal hypervisors will have better resource separation, capabilities, and generally more consistent performance than container-based solutions, and they rank right up there with the speed of full hardware, when implemented right. It's important that the hypervisor being used supports hardware-assisted virtualization for Windows VMs (it's called HVM, for Xen) instead of trapping and emulating, and that there are drivers to ensure paravirtualized I/O operations.

As far as the processor, hardware-assisted virtualization is also supported for some pre-Nehalem processors, but the Nehalem/i7 architecture added some useful extensions and is much faster than prior generations of CPUs, so it's highly preferable.

Brandon, the bottleneck for VPSes varies from provider to provider depending on workloads and how much they load their machines, but it's generally accepted that I/O, and more specifically storage, is the most significant limiting element for a general-purpose setup. Even with a fast RAID-10, many customers are sharing the same storage subsystem, which means that others on the machine will notice when even one customer is heavily using the disks (such as by copying large files).

Memory is also a major factor, but at least one that's spelled out up-front -- and which bare-metal hypervisors (Xen/Hyper-V/VMware) should not allow to be oversubscribed. Avoid any provider that offers "burstable" RAM like the plague, because it means that the provider is running a container-based solution that allows oversubscription, and your "guaranteed" RAM can be swapped out to disk, destroying your server performance.

CPU is probably the biggest unknown quantity to consumers in this industry, and it's one that is very important for single-threaded, CPU-intensive workloads like game servers -- in my mind, more than any other factor, it's why any old VPS provider won't do for a game server. Many providers place a lot of VMs on a single host, and the CPU can become bogged down. You should go with a provider that can offer you a dedicated CPU core, or that has highly underloaded servers to the point that you always get your own anyway, to reduce scheduling overhead and make sure that your server can have a consistent large amount at all times.

TL;DR: Pick a provider that uses Xen/VMWare/Hyper-V, that can give you a dedicated CPU core on a static machine, and that preferably knows how to maximize performance for game servers

Yes, I just didn't mention the above. I personally would avoid VPS for all my game servers, but if needed vps isn't that bad, if you pick a great provider than uses HVM. Like you said.

Thanks for the input John :)

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* Central storage tends to be lower-performance, unless it is a very high-end setup (game servers don't use the disk much anyway, but this can affect level load speeds, and latency on writes can make servers that write logs frequently run choppy)

* There's a single point of failure for all running VMs

* Being moved causes a hiccup in the server -- not all that noticeable for webhosting, but a big deal for game servers

* With a variety of hardware and software configurations in use and moves potentially occurring frequently, there is lower performance consistency

Game servers don't need disk, they need disk at one point and thats loading the map. (We developed our own custom solution for logging that doesn't have choppyness when writing over a lan) But it can be avoided.

According to our perfs, the adverage loaded machine doesn't have more than 1-2mbps hard drive usage, so running over a lan is not a performance issue at all.

There isn't a single point of failure if you have multiple SANs, and this would be expected anyway, no one runs a server with only one hard drive and expects it to work when it fails.

Moving doesn't create that much of a hiccup, around 0.3ms and if you time it right (during loading times) it's not noticed at all.

The veriety of hardware and software makes it ... fun ! (ok ok your right about that point)

We developed a cloud based system for game hosting, currently in early testing and everything is going great, but VMs are not the way to go. You can't run 1000fps kernels and there is additional host latency on networking.

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I have a few VPS servers from NFO right now running a few game servers for some friends, and it does perform quite nicely. At one point I had two 20 slot TF2 servers running at 250fps, and a 10 slot HL2 DM 10 slot running at standard FPS.

The processors cannot handle more than one 500fps server on one core. If I do that, even with both servers are running empty, they both hop around from 350-500fps, until one gets it's fps lowered. So you'd need a multi-core model to have more than one. In my experience though, standard frame rates still seem to have better hitbox accuracy than a 250, or 500fps server.

If you have the opportunity to have a bare-metal system, something other than VM ware (like a Xen system) then game servers run almost as good as a dedicated server. I've tested on of them vs a dedicated system from colo crossing. Map load times were usually 10-15 seconds on the dedicated server, and usually around 30 seconds on the VPS, and sometimes faster, and sometimes much slower.

It's definitely cheaper for a clan or group to pick up one of those systems for around $38 a month, and run 2-3 servers themselves, than it is to buy individually, or to buy a dedicated server.

I do have a linux VPS system that runs on VM Ware, and it's great for websites, but not much else xD

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Hi

A VPS would be fine to host a game server if it would be doing just that. VPS don't have the same capacity of a dedicated server. However cloud servers would be a better option due to their scalability and uptime. VPS isn't as scalable as cloud for when more players join in. Also for a game to be constantly available the uptime of a cloud server is great.

Hope this helped.

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