Monday Nov 15, 2010

Solaris 11 Express Released! On Crossbow, NUMA I/O, Exadata, and more…

After many years under development, Solaris 11 Express is now available from Oracle. This milestone makes the many features and improvements that we have been working on since Solaris 10 available with Oracle Premier Support! As the architect for Crossbow and NUMA I/O, I wanted to spend some time here to give you a quick introduction and my perspective on these features.

Solaris 11 Express includes Crossbow, which we integrated in Solaris a couple of years ago, and have been steadily improving since then. Crossbow provides network virtualization and resource control designed into the core networking stack. This tight integration allows us to provide the best performance, leveraging advanced NIC hardware features and providing scalability on Oracle Systems from the 8 sockets Nahalem-based Sun Fire x4800 to the four socket SPARC T3-4.

Management of Crossbow VNICs and QoS is also closely integrated with other Solaris administration tools and features. For example, VNICs and bandwidth limits can be easily managed with the common data link management tool diadm. Crossbow allows the Solaris Zones virtualization architecture to be taken to the next level, allowing each zone to have its own VNIC(s) and virtual link speed, improving separation between zones by automatically binding network kernel resources (threads and interrupts) to the CPUs belonging to a zone.

Crossbow features such as virtual switching, virtual NICs, bandwidth limits, and resource control can be combined with other networking features introduced by Solaris 11 Express (Load balancing, VRRP, bridging, revamped IP tunnels, improved observability) to provide the ideal environment to build fully virtual networks in a box for simulation, planning, debugging, and teaching. Thanks to these features and the high efficiency of Zones, Solaris 11 Express provides the foundation for an open networking platform.

While an integrated data path, QOS, resource control, and scalability built-in are key for performance, equally important is managing and placing these resources on large systems. The Sun Fire x4800 and Oracle SPARC T3-4 for instance provide several processor sockets, connected to multiple PCI Express I/O switches. On such large systems, the processors are divided into multiple NUMA (Non-Uniform Memory Access) nodes, connected through high-speed interconnect. I/O requests as well DMA transfers to and from devices must be routed through the CPU interconnect, and the distance between devices and the CPUs used to process I/O requests must be kept to a minimal for best overall system scalability.

NUMA I/O is a new Solaris kernel framework which is used by other Solaris I/O subsystems (such as a network stack) to register their I/O resources (kernel threads, interrupts, and so on) and define at a high-level the affinity between these resources. The NUMA I/O framework discovers the I/O topology of the machine, and places these I/O resources on the physical CPUs according to the affinities specified by the caller, as well as the NUMA and I/O hardware topology.

The Oracle Exadata Database Machine running Solaris 11 Express depends heavily on NUMA I/O to achieve best Infiniband RDSv3 performance, which is the protocol used by the Exadata database compute nodes (Sun Fire x4800 in the case of the Oracle Exadata X2-8) to communicate with the Exadata Storage Servers. NUMA I/O is designed to be a common framework, and work is in progress to leverage it from other Solaris I/O subsystems.

Learn more about these features and the many other innovations provided by Solaris 11 Express, such as IPS, new packaging system that redefines the OS software life cycle, ZFS crypto, a new installer, Zones improvements, etc, on the Solaris 11 Express site at oracle.com. There you will also find information on how to download Solaris 11 Express, details the type of support available, documentation, and many other community resources.

Enjoy!

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ndroux

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