Thursday Jul 11, 2013

Hands-On Training

Curious about Oracle Solaris, Oracle Linux or Oracle VM?
Or are you beyond curious, and in need of hands-on experience?

Oracle is proud to host "Virtual Sysadmin Day!" During this event, you will learn how to build a secure, multi-level application deployed using virtualization capabilities of Oracle Solaris 11, and/or many other activities.

You must register for Virtual Sysadmin Day to attend. At that site you can also view the agenda and pre-event instructions to prepare your laptop or desktop.

Tuesday Apr 23, 2013

More SPARC T5 Performance Results

Performance results for the new SPARC T5 systems keep coming in...

Last week, SPEC published the most recent result for the SPECjbb013-MultiJVM benchmark. This benchmark "is relevant to all audiences who are interested in Java server performance, including JVM vendors, hardware developers, Java application developers, researchers and members of the academic community" according to SPEC.

All of the published results are at:

For the first table below, I selected all of the max-JOPS results greater than 50,000 JOPS using the most recent Java version, for the SPARC T5-2 and for competing systems. From the SPECjbb2013 data, I derived two new values, max-JOPS/chip and max-JOPS/core. The latter value compensates for the different quantity of cores used in one of the tests. Finally, the "Advantage of T5" column shows the portion by which the T5-2 cores perform better than the other systems' cores. For example, on this benchmark a 32-core T5-2 computer demonstrated 15% better per-core performance than an HP DL560p with the same number of cores.

As you can see, a SPARC T5 core is faster than an Intel Xeon core, compared against competing systems with 32 or more cores.

Model CPU Chips Cores OS max-JOPS Date Published max-JOPS per chip max-JOPS per core Advantage of T5
SPARC T5-2 SPARC T5 2 32 Solaris 11.1 75658 April 2013 37829 2364
HP ProLiant DL560p Gen8 Intel E5-4650 4 32 Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise 67850 April 2013 16963 2120 12%
HP ProLiant DL560p Gen8 Intel E5-4650 4 32 RHEL 6.3 66007 April 2013 16502 2063 15%
HP ProLiant DL980 G7 Intel E7-4870 8 80 RHEL 6.3 106141 April 2013 13268 1327 78%

The SPECjbb2013 benchmark also includes a performance measure called "critical-JOPS." This measurement represents the ability of a system to achieve high levels of throughput while still maintaining a short response time. The performance advantage of the T5 cores is even more pronounced.

Model CPU Chips Cores OS critical- JOPS Date Published critical- JOPS per chip critical- JOPS per core Advantage of T5
SPARC T5-2 SPARC T5 2 32 Solaris 11.1 23334 April 2013 11667 729
HP ProLiant DL560p Gen8 Intel E5-4650 4 32 Windows Server 2008 R2 Enterprise 16199 April 2013 4050 506 44%
HP ProLiant DL560p Gen8 Intel E5-4650 4 32 RHEL 6.3 18049 April 2013 4512 564 29%
HP ProLiant DL980 G7 Intel E7-4870 8 80 RHEL 6.3 23268 April 2013 2909 291 151%

As always, care should be taken in choosing a benchmark that is similar to the workload that you will run on a computer. For example, if you plan to implement a database server, using the SPECint benchmark will not help you, because that benchmark merely measures the performance of the CPU cores and speed and size of memory caches (and perhaps the memory system). It does not measure performance of network or disk I/O, and both of those are important factors in database performance - especially storage I/O.

According to the SPECjbb2013 design document, this benchmark "exercises the CPU, memory and network I/O, but not disk I/O." Because of this, it can be used as a simple method to estimate relative Java processing performance. From the data shown in the tables above, it is clear that the newest SPARC cores deliver Java performance that is competitive with the most recent Intel Xeon CPU cores.

Edit [2013.04.23]: Jim Laurent uses the same benchmark results in a quick look at the smooth scalability of Solaris 11, compared to RHEL6.

For more information on recent SPARC T5 world records, see

SPEC and the benchmark name SPECjbb are registered trademarks of Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC). Results as of 4/21/2013, see for more information.

Wednesday Apr 17, 2013

IDC Reviews New SPARC T5 and M5 Servers

On April 5, IDC published an article that provides their view of the recent announcement of Oracle T5 and M5 servers.

IDC's conclusion: "Oracle has invested deeply in improving`the performance of the T-series processors it developed following its acquisition of Sun Microsystems in 2010. It has pushed its engineering efforts to release new SPARC processor technology — providing a much more competitive general-purpose server platform. This will provide an immediate improvement for its large installed base, even as it lends momentum to a new round of competition in the Unix server marketplace."

IDC also noted the "dramatic performance gains for SPARC, with 16-core microprocessor technology based on three years of IP (intellectual property) development at Oracle, following Oracle's acquisition of Sun Microsystems Inc. in January, 2010."

The new T5 servers use SPARC T5 processor chips that offer more than double the performance of SPARC T4 chips, which were released just over a year ago. And the T4 chips, in turn, were a significant departure from all previous SPARC CMT CPUs, in that the T4 chips offered excellent performance for single-threaded workloads.

The new M5 servers use up to 32 SPARC M5 processors, each using the same "S3" SPARC cores as the T5 chips.

Wednesday Mar 27, 2013

New SPARC Servers Outrun the Competition - by Leaps and Bounds!

In case you missed yesterday's launch of Oracle's new SPARC server line, based on the SPARC T5 and M5 processors, here is a brief summary - and the obligatory links to details...

The new SPARC T5 chip uses the "S3" core which has been in the SPARC T4 generation for over a year. That core offers, among other things, 8 hardware threads, two simultaneous integer pipelines, and some other compute units as well (FP, crypto, etc.). The S3 core also includes the instructions necessary to work with the SPARC hypervisor that implements SPARC virtual machines (Oracle VM Server for SPARC, previously called Logical Domains or LDoms) including Live Migration of VMs.

However, four significant improvements have been made in the new systems:

  1. 16 cores on each T5 chip, instead of T4's 8 cores per chip, was made possible because of a die shrink (to 28 nm).
  2. An increase in clock rate to 3.6 GHz yields an immediate 20% improvement in processing over T4 systems.
  3. Increased chip scalability allows up to 8 CPU chips per system, doubling the maximum number of cores in the mid-range systems.
  4. In addition to the mid-range servers, now the high-end M5-32 also supports OVM Server for SPARC (LDoms), while maintaining the ability to use hard partitions (Dynamic Domains) in that system. (The T5-based servers (PDF) also have LDoms, just like the T4-based systems.)

The result of those is the "world's fastest microprocessor." Between the four T5 (mid-range) systems and the M5-32, this new generation of systems has already achieved 17 performance world records.

Some of the simpler comparisons that were made yesterday include (see the press release for substantiation):

  1. An Oracle T5-8 (8 CPU sockets) running Solaris has a higher SAP performanace rating than an IBM Power 780 (8 sockets) running AIX.
  2. A single, 2-socket T5-2 has three times the performance, at 13% of the cost, of two Power 770's - on a JD Edwards performance test.
  3. Two T5-2 servers have almost double the Siebel performance of two Power 750 servers - at one-fourth the price.
  4. One 8-processor T5-8 outperforms an 8-processor Power 780 - at one-seventh the cost - on the common SPECint_rate 2006 benchmark.

The new high-end SPARC system - the M5-32 - sports 192 cores (1,536 hardware threads) of compute power. It can also be packed with 32 TB (yes, terabytes!) of RAM. Put your largest DB entirely in RAM, and see how fast it goes!

Oracle has refreshed its entire SPARC server line all at once, greatly improving performance - not only compared to the previous SPARC generation, but also compared to the current generation of servers from other manufacturers.

Monday Mar 25, 2013

New SPARC Chips, New Servers

On Tuesday, Oracle will announce new SPARC servers with the world's fastest microprocessor. Considering that the current SPARC processors already have performance comparable with the newest from competing architectures, the performance of these new processors should give you the best real-world performance for your enterprise workloads.

You can register to watch the event live at 4:00 PM EDT (New York).

Tuesday Oct 18, 2011

What's New in Oracle Solaris 11

Oracle Solaris 11 adds new features to the #1 Enterprise OS, Solaris 10. Some of these features were in "preview form" in Solaris 11 Express. The feature sets introduced there have been greatly expanded in order to make Solaris 11 ready for your data center. Also, new features have been added that were not in Solaris 11 Express in any form.

The list of features below is not exhaustive. Complete documentation about changes to Solaris will be made available. To learn more, register for the Solaris 11 launch. You can attend in person, in New York City, or via webcast.

Software management features designed for cloud computing

The new package management system is far easier to use than previous versions of Solaris.
  • A completely new Solaris packaging system uses network-based repositories (located at our data centers or at yours) to modernize Solaris packaging.
  • A new version of Live Upgrade minimizes service downtime during package updates. It also provides the ability to simply reboot to a previous version of the software if necessary - without resorting to backup tapes.
  • The new Automated Installer replaces Solaris JumpStart and simplifies hands-off installation. AI also supports automatic creation of Solaris Zones.
  • Distro Constructor creates Solaris binary images that can be installed over the network, or copied to physical media.
  • The previous SVR4 (System V Release 4) packaging tools are included in Solaris 11 for installation of non-Solaris software packages.
  • All of this is integrated with ZFS. For example, the alternate boot environemnts (ABEs) created by the Live Upgrade tools are ZFS clones, minimizing the time to create them and the space they occupy.

Network virtualization and resource control features enable networks-in-a-box

Previewed in Solaris 11 Express, the network virtualization and resource control features in Oracle Solaris 11 enable you to create an entire network in a Solaris instance. This can include virtual switches, virtual routers, integrated firewall and load-balancing software, IP tunnels, and more. I described the relevant concepts in an earlier blog entry.

In addition to the significant improvements in flexibility compared to a physical network, network performance typically improves. Instead of traversing multiple physical network components (NICs, cables, switches and routers), packet transfers are accomplished by in-memory loads and stores. Packet latency shrinks dramatically, and aggregate bandwidth is no longer limited by NICs, but by memory link bandwidth.

But mimicking a network wasn't enough. The Solaris 11 network resource controls provide the ability to dynamically control the amount of network bandwidth that a particular workload can use. Another blog entry described these controls. (Note that some of the details may have changed between the Solaris 11 Express details described in that entry, and the details of Solaris 11.)

Easy, efficient data management

Solaris 11 expands on the award-winning ZFS file system, adding encryption and deduplication. Multiple encryption algorithms are available and can make use of encryption features included in the CPU, such as the SPARC T3 and T4 CPUs. An in-kernel CIFS server was also added, and the data is stored in a ZFS dataset. Ease-of-use is still a high-priority goal. Enabling CIFS service is as simple as enabling a dataset property.

Improved built-in computer virtualization

Along with ZFS, Oracle Solaris Zones continues to be a core feature set in use at many data centers. (The use of the word "Zones" will be preferred over the use of "Containers" to reduce confusion.) These features are enhanced in Solaris 11. I will detail these enhancements in a future blog entry, but here is a quick summary:
  • Greater flexibility for immutable zones - called "sparse-root zones" in Solaris 10. Multiple options are available in Solaris 11.
  • A zone can be an NFS server!
  • Administration of existing zones can be delegated to users in the global zone.
  • Zonestat(1) reports on resource consumption of zones. I blogged about the Solaris 11 Express version of this tool.
  • A P2V "pre-flight" checker verifies that a Solaris 10 or Solaris 11 system is configured correctly for migration (P2V) into a zone on Solaris 11.
  • To simplify the process of creating a zone, by default a zone gets a VNIC that is automatically configured on the most obvious physical NIC. Of course, you can manually configure a plethora of non-default network options.

Advanced protection

Long known as one of the most secure operating systems on the planet, Oracle Solaris 11 continues making advances, including:
  • CPU-speed network encryption means no compromises
  • Secure startup: by default, only the ssh service is enabled - a minimal attack surface reduces risk
  • Restricted root: by default, 'root' is a role, not a user - all actions are logged or audited by username
  • Anti-spoofing properties for data links
  • ...and more.
As you can guess, we're looking forward to releasing Oracle Solaris 11! Its new features provide you with you the tools to simplify enterprise computing. To learn more about Solaris 11, register for the Solaris 11 launch.

Friday Aug 26, 2011

Oracle Unveils Oracle VM 3.0

Oracle released Oracle VM Server for x86, version 3.0, earlier this week.

Friday Dec 10, 2010

Cryptic Comparison

Sun began shipping the SPARC T1 CPU in servers in 2005. That CPU had a cryptographic accelerator in it. Later, the SPARC T2 improved things by implementing a crypto engine in each of the 8 cores. This was further enhanced in the recently released SPARC T3. Over the past few months I have seen vague statements about cryptographic acceleration in the newest Intel CPUs, but did not see any details. I wondered if each implementation had strengths and weaknesses. Understanding those could help people when choosing a CPU architecture.

Joerg Moellenkamp offers a brief comparison and links to additional details.

Wednesday Dec 01, 2010

Solaris 11 Express Podcast

A brief podcast discusses some of the major enhancements in Solaris 11 Express.

Friday Sep 17, 2010


If... you use, manage, recommend, or purchase computer hardware or software, you will want to pay attention to significant announcements that will be made at Oracle OpenWorld 2010. Software, operating systems, virtualization, computer hardware... it will all be there, and the announcements will demonstrate the power of the integration of Oracle's software and Sun hardware. And now it's even easier to pay attention to those announcements: the "Oracle Now" iPhone app is free!

Thursday Jan 28, 2010

Another step...

Another step: yesterday Oracle executives laid out the value and strategy moving forward. Presentation slides and video recordings can be found at: .

Thursday Jan 21, 2010

One step at a time - but a BIG one...

The wait is over: the European Commission has approved Oracle's acquisition of Sun. Here is the official statement and a news article.

Thursday Dec 31, 2009

Art drives language

After seeing the movie Avatar, a friend of a friend asked if there is a word for "an attraction to blue aliens." I came up with "xenopavoniphilia." That may not be the best color match, but it rolls off the tongue nicely - for a 16-letter word!

Tuesday Jan 06, 2009

Equus: Sine of the Horse

A completely random thought: is there a name for the motion of a carousel horse? One of those would be informative and impish:

  1. Donusoidal
  2. Torusoidal

[For you overly serious types :-) - Yes, I know that both of those answers are incorrect because 'donut' and 'torus' refer to 3-dimensional surfaces. My question and answers are not meant to be geometrically correct. However, if there really is a term describing the combination of sinusoidal and circular motions of a carousel horse, I would like to know what it is.]

Monday Dec 22, 2008

Ice Storm 2008

On December 12, the northeast USA had a severe ice storm, which left 0.5" - 1" (1-2.5 cm) of ice on everything. Trees, heavy with ice, bent and broke, snapping wires and cutting electricity to over 200,000 homes and businesses. My house was one of the unfortunate ones.

However, with every challenge there are opportunities - in this case, photographic ones. So I fired up the DSLR and started snapping - pictures, not wires.

One pine tree in my backyard was so laden with ice that its tip - normally 25 feet in the air - was dangling in the pond. It looks like the pine tree was thirsty and is taking a drink. (Click on the image to see a larger image.)

Later, the surface of the pond froze, trapping the tip in the pond. Fortunately - for the tree - the surface melted two days later, allowing it to shake itself free.

A birch tree in the front yard performed a similar feat, but it looked more like it was bowing. I doubt it was trying lick the snow - it knows better.

I like the loss of background clutter that night - and flash! - brings to shots like that one.

Another birch was bent, and its upper half reached, like fingers, through the branches of a Shadblow tree, itself coated in ice.

Another night shot, a large pine seems to loom gloomily over a 6-foot blue spruce. Normally its arms jut out parallel to the ground, but the ice pinned its arms to its sides.

But by far the worst damage nearby was a 40-to-45-foot pine tree in the backyard. For years, it has been leaning out over the pond. No more - the weight of the ice snapped it in two, about eight feet up the trunk. In the first image, only the remaining trunk is obvious...

...but in the next picture, it's clear that the tree decided to "take a dip" in the pond. To give you some scale, the pond is 40 feet wide. The tree reached all the way across and stripped some branches off of a tree on the far side of the pond.

As someone mentioned to me - the ice storm was "just Mother Nature doing some pruning."

P.S. Nighttime brought another interesting view: moonlight refracting through the ice on tree branches.


Jeff Victor writes this blog to help you understand Oracle's Solaris and virtualization technologies.

The views expressed on this blog are my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Oracle.


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