Tuesday Aug 15, 2006

PG&E Rebates

Our CEO, Jonathan, beat me to the publish button, so here's a rerun... California's main electric utility, Pacific Gas & Electric, has added Sun's CoolThreads servers, the T1000 and the T2000 to its list of retrofits that qualify for Non Residential rebates. Many of you would be familiar with local utilities subsidizing energy efficiency by granting rebates when you replace older air conditioners or refrigerators with more efficient ones. Well now the same concept has been applied to the power hungry servers used by businesses. Replace an older server with one from Sun's CoolThreads product line and you'll get a rebate of $700-$1000 from PG&E. This latest incentive is added to the already impressive list of reasons to consolidate old equipment onto these machines, lower electric consumption $1000/year per server, increase the amount of performance you can get from your existing co-lo rental agreement by making for more computations within the same rackspace, power allotment and cooling envelope.

The eco-responsbile rebate offer has been written up at eWeek.com with an excellent interview of Joyent's experience with energy savings and at SearchDataCenter.com.

Last week marked my first opportunity to do performance testing on T2000's. Its remarkable to see the single UltraSparc T1 chip present itself as a 32-way SMP to Solaris.

                            CPU                 CPU
Location     CPU   Freq     Implementation      Mask
------------ ----- -------- ------------------- -----
MB/CMP0/P0       0 1200 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1
MB/CMP0/P1       1 1200 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1
MB/CMP0/P2       2 1200 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1
MB/CMP0/P3       3 1200 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1
MB/CMP0/P4       4 1200 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1
MB/CMP0/P5       5 1200 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1
MB/CMP0/P6       6 1200 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1
MB/CMP0/P7       7 1200 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1
MB/CMP0/P8       8 1200 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1
MB/CMP0/P9       9 1200 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1
MB/CMP0/P10     10 1200 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1
MB/CMP0/P11     11 1200 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1
MB/CMP0/P12     12 1200 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1
MB/CMP0/P13     13 1200 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1
MB/CMP0/P14     14 1200 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1
MB/CMP0/P15     15 1200 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1
MB/CMP0/P16     16 1200 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1
MB/CMP0/P17     17 1200 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1
MB/CMP0/P18     18 1200 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1
MB/CMP0/P19     19 1200 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1
MB/CMP0/P20     20 1200 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1
MB/CMP0/P21     21 1200 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1
MB/CMP0/P22     22 1200 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1
MB/CMP0/P23     23 1200 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1
MB/CMP0/P24     24 1200 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1
MB/CMP0/P25     25 1200 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1
MB/CMP0/P26     26 1200 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1
MB/CMP0/P27     27 1200 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1
MB/CMP0/P28     28 1200 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1
MB/CMP0/P29     29 1200 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1
MB/CMP0/P30     30 1200 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1
MB/CMP0/P31     31 1200 MHz  SUNW,UltraSPARC-T1

Friday Dec 09, 2005

Sweet music for Sun's ears

Nice article by Stephen Shankland over at c|net news.com today; Power could cost more than server, Google warns. Stephen found Google's concern over performance per watt in a September paper published at ACM's Queue, titled The Price of Performance - An Economic Case for Chip Multiprocessing written by Google engineer Luiz Andre Barroso. Luiz's footnote number #7 referenced the then future 32-thread Niagara chip as far off.

Well the Niagara was launched in volume this week as the Sun Fire T2000. I can only assume someone at Sun has put a T2000 in his hands. If not, Luiz, you can try one risk free for 60 days. I'm looking forward to his next paper titled, "Sun's UltraSPARC T1 CMP architecture solves Google's energy woes."

Tuesday Dec 06, 2005

My son and the T1

Today was such a momentus day for Sun that I wanted to share it with my son, Ian. He's a budding engineer at 5 1/2 years of age, fascinated by trains, space and Star Wars.

The two machines behind Ian were demonstrated at Austin's campus following our remote viewing of the webcast from New York. The T2000 was several times faster than the fully stocked Dell 6250 in an ldap authentication test. The most impressive feature of the demo was that both boxes were being monitored for their current draw. The Dell machine idled at 320 watts and climbed to 620 under full load. The T2000 idled at 220 and climbed to 250 under full load (all figures are from my memory).

I was really impressed during the webcast with an infrared image of a state of the art processor VS the UltraSPARC T1. The differential of heat across the various portions of the state of the art chip was 50 degrees celsius. The UltraSPARC T1 was a fairly uniform temperature at the cool end of the thermal spectrum in the image.

I love cool computers that are quiet. I hope the CMT revolution will trickle down to desktop processors soon. I have always owned Macs at home, which have always been quieter than PC's as they were based on cooler PowerPC processors. However, dissapointingly my latest Mac, the iMac G5, has a fan that spins up under higher loads.

eBay loves it, Oracle adjusts licenses for it, PG&E rebates it, and more...

"It" is the UltraSPARC T1 (formerly Niagara) of course. The webcast of today's launch is packed with information not in the press releases. Here are my highlights.


Heather Peck, manager of the marketplace environment at eBay, who is responsible for the eBay's 6000-8000 servers was present at the launch event. eBay was the first customer to get a sneak peak at a T2000. Heather stated that they are done with building out new data centers every time they max out the space and power. She is an engineer by trade and as such she hasn't been excited about computer hardware developments in a number of years, but the T2000 has her and her team excited by opening their eyes to new possibilities due to its performance VS space/power economics. This is THE news I was looking for today.


Oracle will sell licenses for the UltraSPARC T1 at 0.25 per core, which means an 8 core T1 will be licensed as a 2 CPU machine. An Oracle engineer said the first look at their in house performance test "pinned his ears back".

Pacific Gas & Electric

PG&E is going to be offering a rebate program for people who deploy UltraSPARC T1 systems. That is a surprise announcement to me. That means we really got the eco-responsibility message out there.

Electronic Data Systems

An EDS representative reported that they took out 48 rack units and replaced with 4 rack units of Ultrasparc T1 systems and cut the power from 5000 watts to 800.

Sun Sim Datacenter

Sun has developed a configurator to enable customers to simulate their workloads along with the space, power and cooling consumption in order to compare the reduction in monthly spend when replacing their systems with UltraSPARC T1 servers. You can learn about and download the Sim Datacenter here.

Thursday Dec 01, 2005

Participating in two advents this December

Twenty-three days left in the Christmas advent calendar. Five days left in the advent of Sun's next generation UltraSparc systems. For other's of you eagerly awaiting the arrival of energy, space and cost efficient computing, Sun is providing a Konfabulator countdown widget.





Monday Nov 14, 2005

Stop lights and cache misses

In my 8 years at Sun, the anticipation and excitement surrounding the T1 chip (code-named niagara) is unrivaled. Even better than hearing the official information over the last few years is hearing the anecdotal stories passed from one employee to another about actual performance results being achieved on internal tests and in customer sites. Everyone is doing a good job of keeping a lid on the details, but when Jonathan says we're heading into a significant period of leadership in performance, don't say nobody warned you.

For my value add, I'd like to create a car anology to help demystify the breakthrough performance and efficiency of the T1. I'm no chip guy, just a software geek, but I think I've got the big picture concepts.

In this analogy, a car traveling over a distance is equal to getting work done with a computer. In contemporary chips like the Xeon, engine speed has been optimized to create a really fast car. In this analogy, the Xeon car is always rev'd up to 3,000 rpm's (3000 Megahertz, or 3 Ghz). As in the real world, it takes significant juice to stay rev'd at 3000 rpm's, gas or watts its relatively similar. Like a car engine's rpm's, transistors have an efficiency curve. At lower megahertz there is less current leakage, just as there is a range in the rpm's where fuel is optimally converted to horsepower. The T1 engine is in a sweetspot at 1200 megahertz.

Now you might be thinking, "This sounds boring, is the T1 just a throttled engine that can't possibly compete with the race engine Xeon? Where is the fun in that?".

Here's the kicker where the T1 changes the game. Just as there are stop lights in the world of automobiles, so too in the CPU world. Those stop lights are called cache misses, where the CPU has to wait for data to be fetched from RAM. The Xeon sits at the stop light cache miss rev'd up at 3000 rpm waiting to jackrabbit off the line as soon as that data arrives (green light). The T1 plays by different rules. Whenever is comes to a stop light, it sees not one signal, but an array of 32. As long as 1 of the 32 stop lights is green, the T1 keeps on moving. And remember in this analogy, movement equals getting work done. It is because the T1 has 8 cores with 4 threads each that it always has 32 independent jobs looking for data. Therefore it rarely, if ever, encounters 32 red lights causing a full stop. There are typically dozens of green lights greeting it at every stop light.

For the official explanation of how the T1's 32 threads best a rev'd up Xeon, see the Throughput Whitepaper.




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