vtAlpha Host System Requirements (Single Instance)
The following requirements and recommendations apply to the host system on which vtAlpha will run. A list of supported systems, virtual machine hypervisors, and devices is available in the vtServer Host Platform Compatibility List, available from the Documentation page of our web site.
Please see the section Multiple Instance Requirements below for additional requirements when multiple Alpha instances are emulated on the same host.
The vtAlpha license is stored on a USB hardware key. The USB key may be accessed directly on the host system or via the network. Network-based keys may be present in other computer systems (not necessarily running vtAlpha) or in dedicated vtLicense servers. vtLicense product information is available from the Documentation page of our web site.
The performance of the vtAlpha emulator is affected by the clock speed and technology of the host system CPU. Increasing the host CPU clock speed will increase the speed of the emulation. For a given clock speed, the latest Intel chip technology (V4, V5) runs faster than older chips. Increasing the CPU cache size may also improve performance.
A modern, fast Intel or AMD 64-bit CPU with a minimum clock speed of 3.0 GHz is recommended. Hyper-threading must be disabled on the host.
When replacing Alpha systems with clock speeds of 1 GHz or higher, a minimum clock speed of 3.2-3.4 GHz may be required. In testing we have observed significant performance improvements using HP Gen 9 and Gen 10 servers using Intel V4 chips with a large (20 MB or larger) CPU cache.
One host CPU core is required for each CPU being emulated. Additional cores are required for emulator I/O and host overhead. The minimum requirement for AlphaServer non-GS-series systems is 1.5 cores per CPU being emulated, rounded upward to the next whole number. For GS-series processors, one additional core is required for each QBB that is configured (including the default).
Please Note: vtAlpha runs best when installed directly on the X86 hardware (Bare Metal), but it also runs on a Virtual Machine host (VMware, Hyper-V, KVM, Xen). When running on a VM the same host requirements apply as for Bare Metal installation.
Note that by default these Virtual Machine products apply smart allocation mechanisms, allowing their guests to share the host hardware. This may make sense for general purpose environments, but not for Alpha virtualization. vtAlpha must have unshared access to the hardware of the host it is running on, otherwise it may result in performance degradation or even more severe problems. The OpenVMS and Tru64 operating systems expect the Alpha hardware they run on to be available to them in full. Any delay in availability may be assessed as a hardware malfunction by VMS/Tru64, causing the OS to crash.
It is therefore mandatory to configure the Virtual Machine host such that the virtual Alpha environment receives the resources it requires, without sharing them with other guests on the host VM.
vtAlpha runs best directly on the Bare Metal host hardware: no host operating system is required. vtAlpha may also be run in a virtual machine providing x86-64 emulation. A list of supported hypervisors is provided in the vtAlpha Host Platform Compatibility List, available from the Documentation page of our web site. Note that Virtual Box is not supported. If the vtAlpha host is a virtual machine, it is recommended that the hypervisor be installed on Bare Metal, not running under an operating system such as Windows or Linux.
The minimum host memory requirement is the total amount of memory configured on the virtual Alpha systems + 25% + 1.0 GB. Additional memory will be required if vtAlpha is run in a virtual machine under a host operating system.
One dedicated physical network interface is highly recommended for host system management.
Versions 2.5 and later of vtAlpha provide the capability to define virtual network switches that multiplex multiple virtual network interfaces to a single physical network interface. Versions prior to 2.5 require a dedicated physical network interface for each virtual network interface.
A minimum of 40 GB of host storage is recommended for installation of the vtServer software. This will provide adequate space for the software as well as configuration and log files, dumps, page and swap space, etc.
A DVD drive is recommended for loading software distributions. If no DVD drive is available, updates may be applied from a USB drive or a load image file (.ISO) can be provided. vtAlpha versions 2.5.2 and later provide the capability to upload updates using vtMonitor; a DVD drive is not required.
Disks in the virtual Alpha environment may be mapped either to physical disks mounted on the host, where the entire drive is utilized for the Alpha volume; or to logical devices, which are container files that exist within the host file system. One container file contains the entire Alpha file system for a single disk device.
NOTE: HP disk controllers with software RAID capability are not supported for use with the RAID feature enabled. Controllers with hardware RAID capability are fully supported. For details, see the vtServer Host Platform Compatibility List, available from the Documentation page of our web site.
vtAlpha version 2.4 and later provide full Fibre Channel (FC) support using virtual KGPSA adapters. Version 2.3 provides limited FC support, where the FC disks are configured as SCSI devices. A list of supported host Fibre Channel adapters is available in the vtServer Host Platform Compatibility List.
vtServer can utilize most types of disk storage supported by the host (SCSI, SAS, SATA, iSCSI, FC, NAS, SAN, or cloud). Physical disks must map to a physical drive, not a partition. Logical disks may be stored on a either partitioned or unpartitioned drives.
Virtual tape devices may be mapped to physical SCSI tape devices connected to the host system. Support for logical tape devices, which use container files similar to the logical disks in place of a physical drive, will be added in a future release of vtAlpha.
Many legacy SCSI disk and tape devices may be connected to the host system and mounted by the virtual Alpha or VAX systems. This can be useful for transferring data from the existing system and restoring archived or backup data. Due to the improved performance of modern devices and the age and potential reliability concerns of the older mechanical devices, we recommend that the older disk and tape devices only be used to transfer data to new devices or for retrieval of archived data.
Multiple Instance Requirements
Multiple instances of vtAlpha may be run on a single host system. When using the Bare Metal version of vtVAX, vtAlpha and vtVAX instances may be combined on a single host. The host hardware requirements are the sum of the requirements for each vtAlpha and vtVAX instance that will be running simultaneously.
The host CPU cores dedicated for vtAlpha I/O processing may be shared by two vtAlpha instances. For example, a one processor virtual Alpha requires 1.5 host CPU cores. A single instance of this configuration requires a 2 core CPU. When four instances are run on the same host platform only 6 cores are required (4*1.5), not 8.
vtAlpha licenses for multiple instances may be stored on a single hardware key.