Solaris 11 outperforms RHEL 6 on 2 socket Intel servers

As a long time Sun employee, I've often heard the term "Slow-laris" applied to Oracle's premier Unix operating system.  Most frequently this was in comparison to the Linux OS running on small two socket servers.  I will admit that in the Solaris 8 and 9 timeframe engineering decisions were made to benefit scalability to 64 sockets that sometimes penalized smaller servers.  In addition, because of Solaris long history and derivation from ATT and BSD Unix code, there was undoubtedly a bit of code labeled, "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."  With the advent of Solaris 10 and Dynamic Tracing, (DTrace) we actually hunted down and killed a number of those legacy code segments using a new philosophy labeled internally, "If Solaris is slower than Linux on the same hardware, it's a bug."

As a result, Solaris 11 provides higher performance than Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.3 on basically identical 2 socket hardware as measured by the SPECjbb benchmark.  According to SPEC:

The SPECjbb2013 benchmark has been developed from the ground up to measure performance based on the latest Java application features. It is relevant to all audiences who are interested in Java server performance, including JVM vendors, hardware developers, Java application developers, researchers and members of the academic community.

Java is one of the predominant enterprise programming environments for mission critical applications and many of Oracle's products are written in Java.

This chart from the SPECjbb site shows the performance of our X3-2 Intel based server with 16 cores and 128 GB of RAM running Solaris 11.1.  The X3-2 tested features the Intel E5-2690 CPU @ 2.9 Ghz.

X3-2 Chart

By comparison, an HP ML350P with the identical Intel chip and clock speed running RHEL 6.3 produces this chart.  Clearly, Solaris 11 produce a smoother response curve with higher numbers for both MaxjOPS and Critical jOPS.  In addition, the X3-2 system requires only 1 rack unit vs. 4 rack units for the HP model reducing data center requirements. 

HP Chart

 To summarize, Solaris is faster than RHEL 6 on small servers and more scalable and responsive on large servers including our SPARC T5 servers.

At the same time, it provides virtualization, security and availability features unavailable on RHEL including:

  • Solaris zones
  • Network virtualization
  • ZFS file system
  • Dynamic Tracing
  • Predictive self-healing
  • Service Management Facility
  • Trusted Extensions 
  • Image packaging system

See more at:

  • Jeff Victor's blog
  • Oracle's Performance Blog
  • SPEC and the benchmark name SPECjbb are registered trademarks of Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC). Results as of 4/22/2013, see for more information.
  • SPARC T5-2 75,658 SPECjbb2013-MultiJVM max-jOPS, 23,334 SPECjbb2013-MultiJVM critical-jOPS. Sun Server X2-4 65,211 SPECjbb2013-MultiJVM max-jOPS, 22,057 SPECjbb2013-MultiJVM critical-jOPS. Sun Server X3-2 41,954 SPECjbb2013-MultiJVM max-jOPS, 13,305 SPECjbb2013-MultiJVM critical-jOPS. SPARC T4-2 34,804 SPECjbb2013-MultiJVM max-jOPS, 10,101 SPECjbb2013-MultiJVM critical-jOPS. HP ProLiant DL560p Gen8 66,007 SPECjbb2013-MultiJVM max-jOPS, 16,577 SPECjbb2013-MultiJVM critical-jOPS. HP ProLiant ML350p Gen8 40,047 SPECjbb2013-MultiJVM max-jOPS, 12,308 SPECjbb2013-MultiJVM critical-jOPS. Supermicro X8DTN+ 20,977 SPECjbb2013-MultiJVM max-jOPS, 6,188 SPECjbb2013-MultiJVM critical-jOPS. HP ProLiant ML310e Gen8 12,315 SPECjbb2013-MultiJVM max-jOPS, 2,908 SPECjbb2013-MultiJVM critical-jOPS. Intel R1304BT 6,198 SPECjbb2013-MultiJVM max-jOPS, 1,722 SPECjbb2013-MultiJVM critical-jOPS.


What about Solaris 11 vs Oracle Linux 6.3 with the Oracle UEK2 kernel?

What about Solaris 11 vs Oracle Linux 6.4 with the Oracle UEK2 kernel?
What about Solaris 11 vs RedHat Linux 6.4 with the stock kernel?

Jus trying to find out if the performance differences are present in 6.4 and also if the performance differences are present with an Oracle UEK kernel, since it also has dtrace and hence should follow a similar logic " "If it is slower on the same hardware, it's a bug."

Posted by Jay Weinshenker on April 24, 2013 at 10:40 AM EDT #


Thanks for your comments. These are official SPEC results as posted by the vendors on a single specific benchmark. SPEC rules prevent us from speculating how untested configurations may perform so I don't know what the results would be against RHEL 6.4.

As you know, different benchmarks stress different parts of the OS so will produce different results. Solaris, however, has consistently posted many world records on a variety of benchmarks, software and hardware systems.

Posted by Jim Laurent on April 24, 2013 at 10:50 AM EDT #

Thanks, and fair enough.

Are there plans by Oracle to do a SPEC test with Sun Server X3-2 with Oracle Linux 6.X with UEK2 ? That would allow us to know if the difference might be the hardware ? We're only talking a couple % points (though that more linear scaling IS nice.

Posted by Jay Weinshenker on April 24, 2013 at 11:03 AM EDT #

I'm not familiar with Oracle's plans for future benchmark publication. Even if I was, I would be precluded from discussing them until they are releases by Oracle and published on the SPEC site.

Posted by Jim Laurent on April 24, 2013 at 11:06 AM EDT #

I should add that industry standard benchmark testing is an expensive, time consuming and highly competitive activity. Not every combination of hardware and software can be tested.

Funding to execute and the decision to publish a result is controlled by marketing departments of the vendors. We may or may not have performed the benchmarks you mention internally and received good (or bad) results. For competitive reasons, marketing decides which benchmarks to publish.

Jim Laurent

Posted by Jim Laurent on April 24, 2013 at 11:34 AM EDT #

One might ask, "If Java is important to IBM and IBM think their Power and zSeries systems are so fast, why hasn't IBM published a SPECjbb benchmark?"

Posted by Jim Laurent on April 24, 2013 at 12:06 PM EDT #

To be a fair comparison don't you need to have the latest RHEL -vs- latest Solaris (including matching JRE versions) ?

But then again fair comparisons doesn't seem to be the norm at Oracle.

Posted by Andrew on April 28, 2013 at 07:38 PM EDT #


We can only use published benchmarks for comparison. SPEC benchmarks are submitted and audited. I can't compare to the latest RHEL and JRE if their are no published results.

Posted by Jim Laurent on April 28, 2013 at 10:06 PM EDT #

Lies and FUD as usual. Where are the specification and configs of both operating systems? If Linux is slower than Solaris then you have tuned it to be slower.

Posted by Pawlerson on May 07, 2013 at 04:17 PM EDT #


"Lies and FUD?" These benchmark results and system configurations are published by SPEC on their web site as listed in the reference at the bottom. The benchmarks are run by the respective vendors (Oracle for Solaris and HP for RHEL). They are then audited by SPEC and published. Oracle could not have "tuned Linux to be slower" because we did not run the HP/RHEL benchmark. We assume that HP and Red Hat tuned it to their best ability.

That is the purpose of industry standard, audited benchmarks.

Jim Laurent

Posted by Jim Laurent on May 07, 2013 at 04:22 PM EDT #

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Jim Laurent is an Oracle Sales consultant based in Reston, Virginia. He supports US DoD customers as part of the North American Public Sector hardware organization. With over 17 years experience at Sun and Oracle, he specializes in Solaris and server technologies. Prior to Oracle, Jim worked 11 years for Gould Computer Systems (later known as Encore).


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