Improve performance with this utility

If you have a multiprocessor Windows NT system, you want it to run at maximum performance. In the past, you could improve performance only by adding more hardware. Now, however, you can implement MCSB Technology's AutoPilot P/SA (Performance/Scalability Accelerator).

AutoPilot maximizes your system's processing power. Working in conjunction with MCSB's Resource and Data Activity Repository (RADAR) software, AutoPilot automatically detects and eliminates bottlenecks in your system.

AutoPilot monitors performance in critical system areas, such as system bus contention, disk and network I/O contention, memory, cache utilization, and page thrashing. After interpreting the data it collects from these areas, AutoPilot uses fuzzy logic and neural network techniques to make scheduling decisions about tasks your system executes.

AutoPilot's Modules
AutoPilot uses algorithm, environmental, and collector modules to monitor and direct system performance. These modules collect information, which they feed into the AutoPilot Meta Algorithm. The Meta Algorithm digests the data and instantly adjusts your system to reflect current demands.

Five algorithm modules accumulate data in your system. The Affinity Module ensures that a task consistently runs on the same processor so that the system doesn't have to continuously reload cache data on to new processors. The Convoy Module monitors resource contention and helps AutoPilot schedule tasks better. The Priority Module manages the priorities of different threads on the system, and the Starvation Module ensures that the system does not delay these threads indefinitely. The Bus Module (which only Pentium Pro processors use) monitors system bus traffic to prevent saturation.

Two collector modules gather data about your system's performance, which they supply to other modules. The System Hooks Module collects data on interactions between applications and the OS. The Pentium Module (which Pentium Pro and Pentium II systems use) collects information from the CPU's performance monitoring counters.

Two environmental modules work behind the scenes to enhance system performance. The File System Cache Module manages NT's file system cache. The Working Set Module manages user application memory space to increase performance.

AutoPilot is fully automated so installation is simple, but you will have to reboot your server afterward. My server's approximate load is normally between 15 percent and 20 percent CPU use, and its response time can be sluggish.

Customizing AutoPilot
Although MCSB designed AutoPilot to function automatically, you can customize the software through NT's Control Panel. Screen 1 shows the window that appears when you click the AutoPilot icon in Control Panel.

To change tunable parameters on a particular module, you highlight the module and click Properties. For example, if you open the Starvation Module, you can click Thread Skip Limit and increase the probability that a particular AutoPilot task executes when the NT scheduler skips the thread more than the specified limit. The AutoPilot P/SA Properties window lets you quickly determine the status of the software and its modules.

Good Results
At first, I was skeptical about MCSB's claims that AutoPilot can increase system performance. After all, the software just adds another layer to the system. However, I noticed an immediate increase in my system's performance. I could log on to the server and launch the various startup programs on my desktop more quickly. I could also perform various file I/O functions faster while running a fairly intensive SQL query. Response time increased even during periods of peak system load. Considering the amount of money you might otherwise have to spend to upgrade your system to a dual-processor, AutoPilot's price tag represents a modest investment in significantly increasing system performance.

AutoPilot P/SA
Contact: MCSB Technology 612-683-4180 or 800-701-2436
Price: $99 for a Windows NT Workstation version; $295 for a single-processor NT Server version
System Requirements: Windows NT Server or Workstation 4.0, 16MB of RAM
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