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It’s easier than you think: Tune your BIOS settings with HPE Intelligent System Tuning



Workload Matching Blog.jpgOur new Workload Matching feature lets you choose from preconfigured BIOS profiles optimized for your workload. Learn how HPE Intelligent System Tuning makes it possible. 

Raise your hand if you’ve ever played around with your server’s BIOS settings to maximize performance. (I’m just kidding. You don’t have to raise your hand. You know I can’t see you!) But in all seriousness, if you have ever dabbled in the world of tuning performance with your BIOS settings, you are likely a rare individual. Let’s face it, it isn’t easy and not a task people generally look forward to taking the time in doing.

As a seasoned BIOS developer myself (even more rare), I’ve spent the bulk of my career, not only making these tuning options available to you but also learning and understanding their impacts on various workloads and environments.

So now you might be wondering: “What’s your point and what does Intelligent System Tuning have to do with any of this?” Great question. Let me jump into the answer.

But first a quick refresher in case this is your first time reading one of my blogs. Intelligent System Tuning consists of three features: Workload Matching, Jitter Smoothing and Core Boosting. I’ve written quite a bit on the last two, but today I want to focus on the benefits of Workload Matching and give you the quick tour of what it is all about and the driving force behind it all.

Tuning BIOS settings for best performance—the struggle is real

I mentioned before that if you tune your performance using BIOS settings, you are likely in a very small minority of those who buy and deploy servers. Why is that? Well, tuning your BIOS settings to achieve better performance for your workload can take a considerable investment in time and resources.

For starters, there are literally dozens upon dozens of settings to research and evaluate. These settings have different impacts on performance depending on your workload. And let’s face it, there are hundreds of different types of workloads out there, ranging from off-the-shelf software solutions all the way down to the custom software developed in-house at companies around the globe.

To really do a great job of tuning your BIOS settings for best performance, you have to first know how your workload consumes compute resources and then match that against what all of these performance tuning options in the BIOS do to help (or otherwise hurt) performance. Once you’ve narrowed down the important settings, you’ll likely want to validate those settings and confirm that they help or at a minimum, don’t negatively impact performance. You guessed it, all of this takes time.

Take the guesswork out of BIOS tuning with Workload Matching.

So what are your options?

Option 1: You can do nothing and rely on the default BIOS settings that ship with your HPE server. A quick word on default settings: As an insider, I can tell you we spend a lot of time and effort at HPE to get the default settings just right so we can strike a balance between overall performance and power efficiency for a very wide range of workloads. But covering a wide range of workloads often means tradeoffs are made that can leave some performance on the table for several other types of workloads. So if you go with the default settings, you should expect good performance but may be losing out on GREAT performance.

Option 2: You can become an expert on how the various performance tuning settings impact your workload.  You can then start the process of annually tuning your settings while running your application and continuously check to make sure you are happy with the end result. Sound exhausting? It is. . . trust me.

Wait. . .Workload Matching on HPE ProLiant Gen10 servers gives you an even better option.

Option 3: You can quickly and efficiently choose from a selection of preconfigured workload profiles. Our highly talented and experienced performance engineers here at HPE have spent countless hours testing, benchmarking, and analyzing various workloads to create these presets and make BIOS tuning easier. Workload Matching offers over 10 preconfigured workload profiles for you to choose from. With a click of a button, these profiles allow you to match the characteristics of your workload to a subset of BIOS tuning options that we’ve determined are best suited to maximize performance. Let me show you how it works.Workload Matching Faasse.png

Using Workload Matching to get the most out of your server.

Workload profiles can be found at the top level of your ROM Based Setup Utility (RBSU) menu or in your RESTful API interface under the BIOS settings. When applying a workload profile, the BIOS automatically changes the individual settings that HPE engineers have determined are important for that classification of workloads. These changes are then locked in. Any non-relevant tuning setting is left alone for you to fine tune, if necessary. The approach is very similar to how we handled power profiles in HPE ProLiant Gen 9 servers and earlier, but workload profiles take into consideration way more than just power management settings. Of course, for those that still want to twiddle every setting and customize your tunings for your precise liking, we do have a custom mode which doesn’t lock in any of the tuning settings so you can tune to your heart’s content.

Want to learn more?

We’ve pulled together a great user’s guide for this feature as well. Not only does it explain how workload profiles cascade the various settings, it also lists every single setting that we change when a workload profile is applied. Yes, we even spell it out for you so you can know exactly what settings are being changed so you don’t have to guess at what changed.

At the beginning of the blog, I asked you to raise your hand if you tuned your BIOS for maximum performance. But since I can’t see you raise your hand, I’m going to ask that you like, share, or leave a comment below on what you think about this new feature designed to help you maximize performance by simplifying the tuning experience.

Get more information on Workload Matching and all the other goodness that comes with our new Intelligent System Tuning features.

Scott Faasse
Master Technologist, Server Firmware and Performance
Hewlett Packard Enterprise

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About the Author


Scott Faasse is a Distinguished Technologist and HPE’s expert on Platform and Processor Power Management and Performance. Since joining Compaq/HP/HPE in 2001, Scott has served as the lead platform firmware developer for six generations of the ProLiant DL380 Server, architected and developed HPE’s Power Regulator feature, lead HPE in several industry standards and partner collaboration efforts, and is one of the principal technologist behind HPE’s Intelligent System Tuning. Scott is also an avid outdoorsman. He enjoys hiking long distances with a really heavy backpack (rucking), camping with family, fly fishing in urban settings, and traditional archery.