x86: 64-bit & SMP
By dcb on Mar 30, 2005
The following news story "IBM, HP take different tack as Xeon MP moves to 64-bit" has some interesting quotes: http://www.nwfusion.com/news/2005/0330ibmhpta.html
First: "HP has decided to cease production of its eight-way ProLiant DL740 and DL760 systems...". HP is following Dell's withdraw of the 8-socket server space. Apparently Dell and HP believe that there is little market demand for more than a handful of threads (today an OS schedules one thread per core or hyperthread context). Or, could it be that their Operating Systems of choice (Windows and Linux) simply can't (yet) scale to larger thread counts? Hey Dell & HP... you might want to check out Solaris 10. A million of your prospects have downloaded and registered this OS in just the last two months! And it runs just fine on your (small and large) x86/x64 servers, up to hundreds of threads.
Second: Andy Lees, corporate vice president with Microsoft's server and tools business, said "If you run a 32-bit application on 64-bit Windows [Windows Server 2003 x64 Edition] on 64-bit hardware, you'll get about a 5% bump in terms of performance," he said. "If you go ahead and add 64-bit [application] capabilities, then things get dramatically better."
Hmmm. This is an interesting admission that 64-bit might actually be worthwhile. It is (not really) amazing that up until Microsoft (x64 Edition) and Intel (EM64T) had decent 64-bit offerings, that they told the world that 32-bit was all that anyone would need for the foreseeable future - except maybe for huge databases and extremely large memory footprint compute jobs. I guess "foreseeable" means until we can field a team. Oh, by the way, Solaris has been 64-bit forever (in Internet years), has unmatchable security features and reliability, and a bundled virtualization technology that alone is worth the price of admission (oh yeah, it's free).
Combine small and high-thread count performance, security, reliability, and virtualization... and Solaris 10 will allow you to stack multiple applications on a single x86/x64 server with confidence. All of a sudden an 8-socket server (with 16 high-performance cores) looks like an important sweet spot for driving utilization rates up and operation cost and complexity down.
HP and Dell have withdrawn from that space (a strategic blunder I believe). It'll be interesting to see who steps up to claim that prize!