By Karthik Ganesan and Jared Rosoff
At VMworld US 2019, VMware announced Project Pacific, an evolution of vSphere into a Kubernetes-native platform. Project Pacific (among other things) introduces a vSphere Supervisor Cluster, which enables you to run Kubernetes pods natively on ESXi (called vSphere Native Pods) with the same level of isolation as virtual machines. At VMworld, we claimed that vSphere Native Pods running on Project Pacific, isolated by the hypervisor, can achieve up to 8% better performance than pods on a bare-metal Linux Kubernetes node. While it may sound a bit counter-intuitive that virtualized performance is better than bare metal, let’s take a deeper look to understand how this is possible.
Why are vSphere Native Pods faster?
This benefit primarily comes from ESXi doing a better job at scheduling the natively run pods on the right CPUs, thus providing better localization to dramatically reduce the number of remote memory accesses. The ESXi CPU scheduler knows that these pods are independent entities and takes great efforts to ensure their memory accesses are within their respective local NUMA (non-uniform memory access) domain. This results in better performance for the workloads running inside these pods and higher overall CPU efficiency. On the other hand, the process scheduler in Linux may not provide the same level of isolation across NUMA domains.