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.

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.

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.

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PierreReynes

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