Article

17 Years of private game server legacy

Damian Reed
17. January 2020
5 min

Why GPORTAL

This document does not discuss the vast amount of reasons why private servers are a necessity these days for upcoming game titles. This document is here to show you why GPORTAL is the best-placed company to make your next game a success.

GPORTAL is a leading supplier of online game–hosting services around the globe. This is achieved by having 13 self-serviced server centres, providing us with global coverage.

It’s not just about having server centres around the world, though. GPORTAL has worked closely with Dell and Intel to provide a unique server solution. Coupled with our state-of-the-art server technology, we have our self-developed DDoS Protection — helping us provide the low latency network we are known for.

Our Just-for-gaming Servers

Many people might think that a server would have one instance of one game on it, but that’s not the case with our servers. We are able to have multiple instances of 90+ different games being hosted on our servers, whilst having no performance hit and being incredibly stable. We do this to keep our costs down, passing those savings onto players and studios.

Our servers are special too: we surveyed the available technology and concluded that Intel was the only company capable of providing processors that had the single-thread performance we needed. Dependant on the game, we use a variety of Dell EMC PowerEdge servers equipped with Intel Xeon Gold, Intel Xeon Platinum and Intel Xeon E-2288G (which has a single-thread frequency of 4.4GHz). GPORTAL also utilize Intel Optane DC persistent memory — this is a non-volatile memory option that delivers a combination of large memory capacity and support for data persistence for easy data accessibility. This technology sits between the memory and storage layers, and running in memory mode provides terabytes of system memory, far more than can be provisioned by using standard DRAM. This solution also retains data through system reboots.

With our state-of-the-art Dell EMC PowerEdge servers and Intel Optane DC persistent memory, we are able to have 500 instances of Minecraft on a single server. This technology allows GPORTAL to host almost three times as many game instances, reducing our server rental price — providing further savings to our customers. The astonishing aspect of this technology is that throughout our initial testing with Minecraft the max CPU load never exceeded 60%.

DDoS Protection, self-developed Network for low-latency

Throughout the last 17 years, we have developed a self-owned low-latency network inside our datacentre with the maximum DDoS Protection for our customers.

Our technology allows GPORTAL to create individual rules, filters, and patterns for every single service we provide — these rules are constantly changing too, as we add more and more each day. We check every single attack, checking to see whether these cause harm to the gaming experience. If there is a hit on performance, we can change the rules until the specific attack no longer has any adverse effect on the playing experience.

The fact that we are in full control of every aspect of our network across every location means that we can adjust every single facet of the game that’s being hosted by us. In addition, our broad knowledge of gaming, the engines, and the network traffic helps us to detect anomalies faster and create appropriate counter measures.

First Line of defence

The most important part for this First Defence Line is the ACL’s that are in place on GPORTAL’S own routers and of course also more in front directly at the upstream carrier. So, we can be sure that bandwidth won’t be saturated at any point. 

Second Line of defence

The second thing that needs to be implemented at POP’s or major locations where the exchange between our network and the upstream carriers occurs, is a scrubbing system. A scrubbing system is a non-inline smart way to mitigate DDoS traffic. In terms of an attack, a system will detect the traffic anomaly and will reroute with a next-hop route injection the affected IP address towards a scrubbing system, which is nothing but the normal Corero DDoS Appliance with a limited Bandwidth (usually 10G or 20G, depending on the importance of that POP). This will mean that the main uplink will have clean traffic most of the time. Secondly, the malicious traffic can be mitigated by the Corero, which allows us to have smarter filters in place that can also block by payload and other patterns that a normal ACL wouldn’t be capable of. The filtered traffic will be forward to its destination. The attack server shouldn’t notice any impact and the player shouldn’t either.

The second defence line is the inline mitigation with a higher bandwidth directly at the major locations. You will once more have the routers and upstream carriers in place that try to limit the bandwidth of an attack to not saturate your overall existing bandwidth. This time we will add an inline approach to mitigate traffic. This exists for one reason: all packets will flow through the Corero, and can be analysed and immediately mitigated the fastest way available. This is necessary for games like Battlefield. The server software provided by DICE is that fragile that even the first milliseconds of an attack leads to a complete outage of the service and results in a drop and loss of the entire game process a player had during that round. 

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administrator

Damian Reed

I'm the evangelist at GPORTAL, where I am responsible for the written and video content of this site. I'm a massive gamer and an even bigger coffee drinker.

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