Thursday Jul 23, 2009

Is Solaris better on AMD or Intel?

"Is Solaris better on AMD or Intel?" As a Technical Marketing guy working with the field and partners, I honestly cannot tell you how many times I was asked that question. The answer, as you most likely already know, is not a straight black or white type answer. Building the best performing solution depends on many components, from the processor architecture to the workload, including compilers and application optimization, type of I/O, network, storage, etc... 

There are general rules of thumb, for example applications with a very high thread count and network I/O are likely to perform very well on Sun Chip Multithreading (CMT) Servers. However, as AMD and Intel architectures evolve, they become more and more similar in many respects (although the low level details and implementations are very different): NUMA architectures, multiple cores, 64-bit, integrated memory controller on cpu die, large cache, etc... therefore generic rules about which architecture performs better tend to turn into an infinite number of case by case benchmarks and proofs of concept.

Sun has been working for years with both Intel and AMD engineers to optimize the Solaris OS on both architectures. In order to help developers leverage these efforts, Sun has published BluePrints articles that provide technical details on how to take advantage of the optimizations for the latest generations of processors: AMD's Opteron 2400/8400 series (aka Istanbul) and Intel's Xeon 3500/5500 series (aka Nehalem-EP) . Although not a straight answer to my initial question, these documents provide developers and sysadmins the guidance they need to optimize the Solaris OS on the latest AMD and Intel processor generations.

So, which is best? How about you have the power of choice and decision. Whatever your choice is, Solaris not only supports it, it has been optimized to help you get the best out of it! Happy reading.

The Solaris Operating System - Optimized for the AMD Opteron Processor

The Solaris Operating System - Optimized for the Intel Xeon Processor 5500 Series

Sun BluePrints articles are free whitepapers, written by engineers, for engineers. Don't miss out, stay up to date and join the Sun BluePrints Community on Facebook or subscribe to the Sun BluePrints Community RSS Feed.

Wednesday Jul 22, 2009

LDoms for Dummies

Do you have a Sun Chip Multithreading (CMT) Server laying around? Would like to take advantage of the massive thread scale of your Coolthreads server? Always wanted to give Logical Domains (LDoms) no-cost virtualization a try?

Today is the perfect day! Your boss is on vacation, things are slow at the office and... Sun has just released a BluePrints article Logical Domains Quick Start Guide. It is so well written and easy to follow that even a dummy like me could use it. Seriously! Give it a try and see how LDoms technology can help you optimize server utilization without paying for proprietary virtualization technologies.

All the details in Logical Domains Quick Start Guide.

Don't have a CMT server available? Try one for free for 60 days. Don't like it? Send it back. Sun will pay the shipping both ways.

Sun BluePrints articles are free whitepapers, written by engineers, for engineers. Don't miss out, stay up to date and join the Sun BluePrints Community on Facebook or subscribe to the Sun BluePrints Community RSS Feed.

Tuesday Jul 07, 2009

AMP Stack To Go

In the BluePrints article "Deploying the AMP Stack in Virtualized Environments - Taking a Step Towards Cloud Computing", Thierry Manfé provides all the steps necessary to virtualize the AMP (Apache, MySQL, PHP) stack in Solaris Containers and getting ready to deploy AMP virtual servers as a SaaS (Software as a Service). From the creation of the first container to the installation and configuration of the AMP stack, all the commands are provided with detailed instructions and recommendations.

Thierry takes it a step further also providing best practices to efficiently manage virtual network traffic (using Project Crossbow) and to reduce deployment times by leveraging ZFS clones. This article will definitely help you get ready to take the AMP stack to the Cloud.

All the details in Deploying the AMP Stack in Virtualized Environments - Taking a Step Towards Cloud Computing.

Sun BluePrints articles are free whitepapers, written by engineers, for engineers. Don't miss out, stay up to date and join the Sun BluePrint Community on Facebook or subscribe to the Sun BluePrints Community RSS Feed.

Thursday Jul 02, 2009

Use FFAC and NEBS/ETSI Netra to kill the CRAC!

Did I just write that? OK, the title of this Sun BluePrints article is actually "Conserving Energy and Increasing ROI with Sun Netra Servers and Full Free Air Cooling". Don't you like my version better though? ;)

This is in fact a very interesting paper. It shows how Sun and Belgacom used NEBS/ETSI certified Sun Netra servers and FFAC (Full Free Air Cooling) to eliminate the CRAC (Computer Room Air Conditioning). To caricaturize, they used systems engineered to withstand high temperatures (Netra servers) and opened the data center windows to cool them down. Based on the results of this proof-of-concept, the projected decrease of power consumption to cool the facility down is up to 40 percent. Quite dramatic! Obviously, it probably helps if the data center is located in Belgium and not in the middle of Arizona on a hot summer day!

All the details in "Conserving Energy and Increasing ROI with Sun Netra Servers and Full Free Air Cooling".

Sun BluePrints articles are free whitepapers, written by engineers, for engineers. Don't miss out, stay up to date and join the Sun BluePrint Community on Facebook or subscribe to the Sun BluePrints Community RSS Feed.

Tuesday Jun 30, 2009

Increase PostgreSQL Performance without Hardware change

Nowadays, most applications use a database in the back-end, particularly Web-based applications. The amount of time spent to process the database queries becomes a critical factor for the overall performance.

The BluePrints article “Optimizing PostgreSQL Application Performance with Solaris Dynamic Tracing” demonstrates, using multiple examples, how DTrace can be used to observe, analyse and fix PostgreSQL performance bottlenecks. The paper shows for example how to analyze and fix slow queries or optimize the buffer cache usage, all that live, without rebooting, recompiling, or even restarting the application. Download this paper and improve your database performance without changing the hardware.

Sun BluePrints articles are free whitepapers, written by engineers, for engineers. Don't miss out, stay up to date and join the Sun BluePrint Community on Facebook or subscribe to the Sun BluePrints Community RSS Feed.

Friday Jun 26, 2009

How to Turbo Boost Symantec Brightmail AntiSpam

Running a highly threaded network throughput oriented application suite such as Symantec Brightmail AntiSpam (SBAS) software on Sun SPARC Servers with Chip Multithreading (CMT) Technology (a.k.a. Sun CoolThreads servers) sounds like a no-brainer, since it is exactly what the UltraSPARC T1, T2, and T2 Plus processors with CoolThreads technology are designed for. For example the UltraSPARC T2 Plus processor supports two and four-socket server designs that can support up to 256 threads concurrently.

What the article "Tuning Symantec Brightmail AntiSpam on Sun Servers with CoolThreads Technology" really shows is how to unleash the full potential of CMT Technology running Symantec SBAS. Although running SBAS out-of-the-box on a Sun CoolThreads servers will provide significant performances advantages, the impact of tuning in highly threaded environments is always critical. Read this article and learn how to improve performance up to 2.33x, 3.7x or even 5.2x by following simple steps.

Sun BluePrints articles are free whitepapers, written by engineers, for engineers. Don't miss out, stay up to date and join the Sun BluePrint Community on Facebook or subscribe to the Sun BluePrints Community RSS Feed.

Thursday Jun 25, 2009

Planning the heterogenous migration of a SAP database and application environment

Himesh Bhatt addresses a pretty challenging task in the BluePrints article "Best Practices for Migrating SAP Environments": The heterogenous migration of a SAP database and application environment.

The paper describes the steps involved in the process, from assessement to planning to execution and, for each one, lists the resources and services available from Sun to assist the migration. Did you know that during the migration process Sun SAP experts can design a solution that virtualizes and consolidates SAP application services while Sun network security experts can help safeguard the Web delivery of SAP applications services?

To learn more, download the BluePrints article "Best Practices for Migrating SAP Environments".

As usual, to stay up to date when new Sun BluePrints are published, join our Sun BluePrint Community on Facebook or subscribe to the Sun BluePrints Community RSS Feed.

Tuesday Jun 23, 2009

Building Optimized Configurations for MD Nastran

MD Nastran is a very high compute and I/O intensive application. Jobs can run for days and generate terabytes of data.  Any processing or I/O optimization will help running more jobs concurrently and for shorter periods of time. From storage (Internal? Network Attached? SAS? HDD? SSD?) to memory (how much per node? per job?), the Sun BluePrints article "Sun Business Ready HPC for MD Nastran" provides interesting suggestions to help designing optimized configurations and avoiding processor or I/O bottlenecks. Detailed configuration examples and performance test results are provided.

To stay up to date when new Sun BluePrints are published, join the Sun BluePrint Community on Facebook or subscribe to the Sun BluePrints Community RSS Feed.

Thursday Jun 18, 2009

How To Increase HPC Productivity over 54%

The performance of some of the most popular High-Performance Computing (HPC) applications can be dramatically increased by simply swapping out drives. This is one of the findings by Larry McIntosh and Michael Burke, authors of the BluePrint "Solid State Drives in HPC: Reducing the I/O Bottleneck".

In one of the performance tests, by simply replacing the traditional 15K SAS  Hard Disk Drives (HDDs) with SATA Solid State Drives (SSDs), the increase in productivity reached 54.42% (xxocmd2 and xlotdf1 NASTRAN benchmark tests running on 8 processing cores).

Similar tests are run with other HPC finite-element analysis applications such as ABAQUS or ANSYS as well as with the Lustre parallel file system (using IOZone) and they all demonstrated significant performance improvements.

This Sun BluePrints article is a must read if you are running HPC applications and I/O bottleneck is what limits your productivity.

To stay up to date when new Sun BluePrints are published, join the Sun BluePrint Community on Facebook or subscribe to the Sun BluePrints Community RSS Feed.

Monday Jun 15, 2009

Solaris Optimizations on Intel Xeon processor 5500 series

The Solaris OS is optimized to take advantage of the Intel Xeon processor-based systems. The Sun BluePrint titled "The Solaris Operating System - Optimized for the Intel Xeon processor 5500 series" has just been updated with some of the latest improvements. Here are examples of what to expect from the BluePrint:

Increased Power Efficiency

An innovative Power Aware Dispatcher (PAD) has been integrated into OpenSolaris, enabling Intel Xeon processor 5500 series to stay longer in idle states (C-states), have better granularity in power management (P-states). The Solaris PAD has increased awareness of the Xeon 5500, such that the workload can be efficiently utilized on available hardware threads, with benefits for shared pipelines, shared caches, and shared sockets. The Solaris kernel has the ability to utilize those parts of the processor that are active, and continue to avoid doing work on those parts that are powered down.

Writing multi-threaded applications

The Sun Studio compilers support the OpenMP specification version 3.0. OpenMP is an API that can be used to explicitly specify multi-threaded shared-memory parallelism in C, C++, and Fortran programs. OpenMP has a rich set of directives that the programmer can use to specify parallelism in a program. This allows creating applications that will take advantage of the parallelism offered by the Hyper-Threading technology from the Xeon 5500.

Automated Energy Efficiency

PowerTOP for OpenSolaris leverages the DTrace framework to quickly and safely analyze the system without impacting performance or service levels. It gathers information about processor idle and frequency states transitions and even allows a developer or administrator to observe Intel Turbo Boost Technology operation. Normally, it is difficult to know how fast a system with Intel Turbo Boost Technology is running, as this capability is determined by the Xeon 5500 power management system. PowerTOP will be able to monitor and measure Turbo Boost.

Download the BluePrint to learn more about the Solaris optimizations on Intel Xeon processor 5500 series.

To stay up to date when new Sun BluePrints are published, join the Sun BluePrint Community on Facebook or subscribe to the Sun BluePrints Community RSS Feed


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PierreReynes

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