Thursday Oct 11, 2007

CMT Comes Of Age

Sun engineers give the inside scoop on the new UltraSPARC T2 systems

[ Update Jan 2008: Sun SPARC Enterprise T5120 and T5220 servers were awarded Product of the Year 2007. ]

Sun launched the Chip-Level MultiThreading (CMT) era back in December 2005 with the release of the highly successful UltraSPARC T1 (Niagara) chip, featured in the Sun Fire T2000 and T1000 systems. With 8 cores, each with 4 hardware strands (or threads), these systems presented 32 CPUs and delivered an unprecedented amount of processing power in compact, eco-friendly packaging. The systems were referred to as CoolThreads servers because of their low power and cooling requirements.

Today Sun introduces the second generation of Niagara systems: the Sun SPARC Enterprise T5120 and T5220 servers and the Sun Blade T6320. With 8 hardware strands in each of 8 cores plus networking, PCI, and cryptographic capabilities, all packed into a single chip, these new 64-CPU systems raise the bar even higher.

The new systems can probably be best described by some of the engineers who have developed them, tested them, and pushed them to their limits. Their blogs will be cross-referenced here, so if you're interested to learn more, come back from time to time. New blogs should appear in the next 24 hours, and more over the next few weeks.

Here's what the engineers have to say.

  • UltraSPARC T2 Server Technology. Dwayne Lee gives us a quick overview of the new systems. Denis Sheahan blogs about UltraSPARC T2 floating point performance, offers a detailed T5120 and T5220 system overview, and shares insights into lessons learned from the UltraSPARC T1. Josh Simons offers us a glimpse under the covers. Stephan Hoerold gives us an illustration of the UltraSPARC T2 chip. Paul Sandhu gives us some insight into the MMU and shared contexts. Tim Bray blogs about the interesting challenges posed by a many-core future. Darryl Gove talks about T2 threads and cores. Tim Cook compares the UltraSPARC T2 to other recent SPARC processors. Phil Harman tests memory throughput on an UltraSPARC T2 system. Ariel Hendel, musing on CMT and evolution, evidences a philosophical bent.
  • Performance. The inimitable bmseer gives us a bunch of good news about benchmark performance on the new systems - no shortage of world records, apparently! Peter Yakutis offers detailed PCI-E I/O performance data. Ganesh Ramamurthy muses on the implications of UltraSPARC T2 servers from the perspective of a senior performance engineering director.
  • System Management. Find out about Lights Out Management (ILOM) from Tushar Katarki's blog.
  • Networking. Alan Chiu gives us some insights into 10 Gigabit Ethernet performance and tuning on the UltraSPARC T2 systems.
  • RAS. Richard Elling carries out a performability analysis of the T5120 and T5220 servers.
  • Clusters. Ashutosh Tripathi discusses Solaris Cluster support in LDoms I/O domains.
  • Virtualization. Learn about Logical Domains (LDoms) and the release of LDoms 1.0.1 from Honglin Su. Eric Sharakan has some more to say about LDoms and the UltraSPARC T2. Ashley Saulsbury presents a flash demo of 64 Logical Domains booting on an UltraSPARC T2 system. Find out why Sun xVM and Niagara 2 are the ultimate virtualization combo from Marc Hamilton.
  • Security Performance. Ning Sun discusses Cryptography Acceleration on T2 systems. Glenn Brunette offers us a Security Geek's point of view on the T5x20 systems. Lawrence Spracklen has several posts on UltraSPARC T2 cryptographic acceleration. Martin Mueller proposes a UltraSPARC T2 system deployment designed to deliver a high performance, high security environment.
  • Application Performance. Dileep Kumar talks about WebSphere Application Server performance with UltraSPARC T2 systems. Tim Bray shares some hands-on experiences testing a T5120.
  • Java Performance. Dave Dagastine offers us insights into the HotSpot JVM on the T2 and Java performance on the new T2 servers.
  • Web Applications. Murthy Chintalapati talks about web server performance. Constantin Gonzalez explores the implications of UltraSPARC T2 for Web 2.0 workloads. Shanti Subramanyam tells us that Cool Stack applications (including the AMP stack packages) are pre-loaded on all UltraSPARC T2-based servers.
  • Open Source Community. Barton George explorers the implications of UltraSPARC T2 servers for the Ubuntu and Open Source community.
  • Open Source Databases. Luojia Chen discusses MySQL tuning for Niagara servers.
  • Customer Use Cases. Stephan Hoerold gives us some insight into experiences of Early Access customers. Stephan also shares what happened when STRATO put a T5120 to the test. It seems like STRATO also did some experimentation with the system.
  • Sizing. I've posted an entry on Sizing UltraSPARC T2 Servers.
  • Solaris features. Scott Davenport blogs on Predictive Self-Healing on the T5120. Steve Sistare gives us a lot of insight into features in Solaris to optimize the UltraSPARC T2 platforms. Walter Bays salutes the folks who reliably deliver consistent interfaces on the new systems.
  • HPC & Compilers. Darryl Gove talks about compiler flags for T2 systems. Josh Simons talks about the relevance of the new servers to HPC applications. Ruud van der Pas measures T2 server performance with a suite of single-threaded technical-scientific applications. In another blog entry, Darryl Gove introduces us to performance counters on the T1 and T2.
  • Tools. Darryl Gove points to the location of free pre-installed developer tools on UltraSPARC T2 systems. Nicolai Kosche describes the hardware features added to UltraSPARC T2 to improve the DProfile Architecture in Sun Studio 12 Performance Analyzer. Ravindra Talashikar brings us Corestat for UltraSPARC T2, a tool that measures core utilization to help users better understand processor utilization on UltraSPARC T2 systems.


Go check out the new UltraSPARC T2 systems, and save energy and rack space in the process.



I'm a Principal Engineer in the Performance Technologies group at Sun. My current role is team lead for the MySQL Performance & Scalability Project.


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