Tuesday Apr 14, 2009

Nehalem a Solaris and OpenSolaris perspective

This morning Sun announced its latest generation of servers, built on Intel's Nehalem chip branded as Xeon 5500. For those of us within the engineering community we've had the chance to work with and watch development take place on these platforms as well as Nehalem over the last few years.

There will be many blogs from Sun this morning as well as the formal 10.30am webcast, sun.com will also be updated to include links to all the various platforms, to save you finding them, here they are:

What I'm not going to do is sit here an extol the virtues of the platforms (although they do warrant it), others will be far better at that than me, what I did want to talk about was the operating system that best exploits the advantages of Nehalem and that of course is Solaris be it Solaris 10 or OpenSolaris both are best placed to take advantages of the features in the Xeon 5500.

When Sun announced OpenSolaris 2008.11 back in November last year it was with full support for the Xeon 5500 already baked into the operating system, in fact I'd go as far as saying it was the first operating system to be optimized for and take advantage of these features. Intel themselves have been actively contributing to the OpenSolaris community, OpenSolaris has been one of the key elements in the success of the relationship with Intel and the development of the platforms based on the Xeon 5500.

So what did we deliver for the Xeon 5500:

In fact I was talking about a number of these in my keynote for the OpenSolaris track at the TechDays in St Petersburg just last week, see my previous entry.

So how does this technology translate into the real world and what does the customer see?

Unparalleled power efficiency is one, the fact that we support all p-states in the latest Intel chips and we added deep c-state power management, what the later means is that we have the ability to drop un-used codes to lowest power states. Building on this is the Solaris unique power aware dispatcher, the picture explains it a lot better than I ever could in words.

Onto PowerTOP it is designed to easily identify power wasting applications and therefore help you balance performance and energy use. PowerTOP leverages the DTrace technology introduced in Solaris 10 and allows us to provide a degree of observability that most vendors can only dream of. Finally it allows developers and administrators to view TurboMode in real time.

Then of course we have Solaris FMA that allows you to detect and automatically diagnose errors such as offline failing memory and workaround failed cores / CPUs to run in a degraded but reliable state, all of which helps to maximise your system uptime.

Of course none of this kind of technology is new to Solaris for years Solaris has been optimized to take advantage of large memory and multi-core / cpu / thread systems and especially with ZFS underneath you get enterprise data scaling with the performance of dedicated proprietary storage systems all in an operating system you can go and download now.

So for those of you lucky enough to already have access to Xeon 5500 machines why not give Solaris 10 or OpenSolaris 2008.11 and these latest machines a run, you won't be disappointed. As some of the benchmarks show.

As always my team will be the ones providing the sustaining engineering on all the elements of operating system on these platforms (both Solaris and OpenSolaris).

About

Chris is the Senior Director of Solaris Revenue Product Engineering

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