Dentrix performance issues on XEON Quad Core server
Posted on 2008-06-22
Dental office has all new hardware and new cabling for a 12-workstation client/server network. Workstations use Pentium D 3.0ghz processors with 1-gig DDR2 RAM, and the server is a quad core XEON 2.66ghz with 4-gigs DDR2 RAM, all Intel motherboards in reasonably high quality custom builds, new Linksys gigabit switch.
Primary patient management app is Dentrix 11, which is built around the c-tree database engine, and this particular version is well-known for slow performance over the network. All updates have been applied, including a Performance Patch update that Dentrix wrote after fielding so many complaints about Ver. 11.
Before the sweeping hardware upgrade, the network performed better on the older hardware with the same version of Dentrix. I don't know the specs of the original server, but it was probably a PIV single core, likely no faster than 1.8ghz.
Dentrix has told the dentist that Dentrix 11 is "incompatible" (the dentist's word) with the quad core processor, but has been otherwise unhelpful resolving the inconsistently slow performance and occasional freezes. The hardware guys are blaming Dentrix for the slowness. The network appears to be configured competently (although I question using the Everyone group to set permissions (see next paragraph)), and the real-time virus scan (Trend Micro) excludes the Dentrix folder on server and workstations as well and its mapped drive letter at the root for the network share.
The users all log in with the same username to the domain controlled by Windows Server 2003 Small Business Edition. The installers configured the OS so that the Everyone group has full control rights to the Dentrix folder. So in all the operatories the user is logged in as Staff and then must login again to the Dentrix app.
My main question concerns this statement from Dentrix that a quad core processor is not recommended. Without any question, Dentrix is incapable of multithreading, and so the quad core might unnecessary and not utilized. But would the presence of a quad core processer be the cause of latency in a legacy application using the old c-tree engine?
Users are experience slow updates of records, slow transition between modules, slow loading of x-ray and intraoral images, with occasional freezes of the workstations. The problem comes and goes, except for one particularly problematic workstation which has been rebuilt and OS reinstalled by the hardware vendor, without much difference.
I have advised the dentist to examine the new CAT5 cables to confirm that they avoid the ceiling lights and the x-ray equipment. I have also added file extensions DAT, IDX and VMF to the Trend Micro exclusion list (although the vendors had already excluded the entire Dentrix directory tree). I have confirmed that the workstations are connecting at 100mbps, and that there is only one DHCP server running (they turned off DHCP on the SonicWall firewall).
I also wonder about the fact that the server is running the SQL engine that loads with Small Business Server. The Dentrix software doesn't use SQL, so I don't think the SQL is doing anything but eating some RAM. But the server has planty of RAM and in watching CPU usage on hte server I never saw it spike above about 12%, and it tends to stay down around 1% or 2%.