Sun achieves the Magic Number 50,000 on T5440 with Oracle Business Intelligence EE

Less than two months ago, Sun Microsystems published an Oracle Business Intelligence benchmark with the best single system performance of 28,000 concurrent BI EE users at ~75% CPU utilization. Sun and Oracle Corporation announced another Oracle Business Intelligence benchmark result today with two identical T5440 servers in the Oracle BI Cluster serving 50,000 concurrent BI EE users.

An Oracle white paper with Sun's 50,000 user benchmark results can be accessed from Oracle's Business Intelligence web.

The hardware specifications for each of the T5440s are similar to the hardware that was used in the prior benchmark effort on a single T5440 server. However this time the Presentation Catalog (also frequently referred as the Web Catalog) was moved to a T5220 server where the NFS server was running. Besides this the only other change from the earlier 28,000 user benchmark exercise is the addition of another T5440 to the test rig.

The following graph shows the scalability of the application from one node to four nodes to eight nodes running on T5440 servers.

OBIEE on T5440 : Scalability Graph

Without further ado, here is the summary of the benchmark results along with their significance and some interesting facts:

  • One of the major goals of this benchmark effort is to show the horizontal and vertical scalability of the application (OBIEE) by highlighting the superior performance and the resilience of the underlying hardware (T5440) and the operating system (Solaris). Needless to say the goal has been met.

  • Another goal of this benchmark is to show decent number of concurrent BI EE users executing transactions with good response times. Since we already showed the maximum load that can be achieved on a single BI instance (7500 users) and on a single T5440 server running multiple BI instances (28,000 users), this time we did not attempt to get the peak number that can be achieved from the two T5440 servers in the benchmark environment. Now that there is an additional server in the test setup that is taking care of the Presentation Catalog and the database server, 2 \* 28000 = 56,000 BI EE users would have been an achievable target -- but we opted to stop at the "magic" and the "respectable" number 50,000 instead.

  • The entire benchmark run lasted for about 9 hours 45 minutes, and out of which 8 hours were the rampup hours where the 50,000 BI virtual users were logging into the application few users at a time. LoadRunner tool reported only 4 errors for the entire duration of the run; and there are zero errors in the 60 minute steady state period during which the statistics reported in the document were collected.

  • Two Sun SPARC Enterprise T5440 servers each with 4 x 8-Core 1.6 GHz UltraSPARC T2 Plus processors delivered the best performance of 50,000 concurrent BI EE users at around 63% CPU utilization.

  • The BI EE Cluster was deployed on two T5440 servers running Solaris 10 5/09 operating system. All the nodes in the BI Cluster were consolidated onto two T5440 servers using the free and efficient Solaris Containers virtualization technology.

  • The Presentation Catalog was hosted on ZFS powered file system that was created on top of four internal Solid State Drive (SSD) disks. The Catalog was shared among all eight BI nodes in the cluster as an NFS share. One 8-Core 1.2 GHz UltraSPARC T2 processor powered T5220 server was used to run the NFS server. Due to the minimal activity of the database, Oracle 11g database was also hosted on the same server. Solaris 10 5/09 is the operating system.

  • Solid State Drive (SSD) disks with ZFS file system showed significant I/O performance improvement over traditional disks for the Presentation Catalog activity. In addition, ZFS helped get past the UFS limitation of 32767 sub-directories in a Presentation Catalog directory.

  • Caching was turned ON at the application server, which led to minimal database activity on the server. Note hat the caching mechanism was turned ON even in the prior benchmark exercise.

  • The low end CoolThreads CMT Server T5220 and the mid-range T5440 server once again proved to be ideal candidates to deploy and run multi-thread workloads by exhibiting resilient performance when handling large number of simultaneous requests from 50,000 BI EE virtual users. T5220 handled large number of concurrent asynchronous read/write requests from eight different NFS clients.

  • NFS v3 was configured at the NFS Server as well as at the NFS Client nodes. NFS version 4 is the default on Solaris 10, and it might have worked as expected. However a handful of bug reports prompted us to go with the more matured and less buggy version 3.

  • 3283 watts is the average power consumption when all the 50,000 concurrent BI users are in the steady state of the benchmark test. That is, in the case of similarly configured workloads, the T5440 server supports 15.2 users per watt of energy consumed and supports 5,000 users per rack unit.

  • A summary of the results with system-wide averages of CPU and memory utilization is shown below. The latest results are highlighted in blue color.

    #Vusers Clustered #BI Nodes #CPU #Core RAM CPU Memory Avg Trx Response Time #Trx/sec
    7,500 No 1 1 8 32 GB 72.85% 18.11 GB 0.22 sec 155
    28,000 Yes 4 4 32 128 GB 75.04% 76.16 GB 0.25 sec 580
    50,000 Yes 8 8 64 256 GB 63.32% 172.21 GB 0.28 sec 1031


The topology diagram in the benchmark results white paper is almost illegible. Here is the original topology diagram that was inserted into the white paper.

OBIEE on T5440 : 50K User Benchmark Topology

Quite frankly I'm not very proud of this drawing -- but that's the best that I could come up with in a short span. Rather than showing the flow of communication between each and every component in the benchmark setup, I simplified the drawing by introducing a "black box" sort of thing - "private network" - in the middle, which protected the drawing from getting messy.


The following two-dimensional graph shows the CPU utilization patterns at all 3 nodes in the benchmark setup for the 60 minute steady state of the benchmark run. This graph was generated using the free GNUplot tool with sar data as the inputs.

OBIEE on T5440 : 50K User Benchmark CPU Usage Graph


And finally here is a quick summary of all the results that are published by different vendors so far with similar benchmark kit. Feel free to draw your own conclusions. All this is public information. Check the corresponding benchmark reports by clicking on the URLs under the "#Users" column.

Server Processors #Users OS
Chips Cores Threads GHz Type
  2 x Sun SPARC Enterprise T5440 (APP)
  1 x Sun SPARC Enterprise T5220 (NFS,DB)
UltraSPARC T2 Plus
50,000 Solaris 10 5/09
  1 x Sun SPARC Enterprise T5440 4 32 256 1.6 UltraSPARC T2 Plus 28,000 Solaris 10 5/09
  5 x Sun Fire T2000 1 8 32 1.2 UltraSPARC T1 10,000 Solaris 10 11/06
  3 x HP DL380 G4 2 4 4 2.8 Intel Xeon 5,800 OEL
  1 x IBM x3755 4 8 8 2.8 AMD Opteron 4,000 RHEL4

Before you go, do not forget to check the best practices for configuring / deploying Oracle Business Intelligence on top of Solaris 10 running on Sun CMT hardware.

Related Blog Posts:
T5440 Rocks [again] with Oracle Business Intelligence Enterprise Edition Workload


Do the watts and rack units per unit of work include the T5220 NFS/DB server?

Posted by rick jones on November 17, 2009 at 11:49 AM PST #

Yes, Rick. Here is the math:

Two T5440s + one T5220 = (2 \* 4RU) + (1 \* 2RU)= 10RU.

Posted by Giri Mandalika on November 17, 2009 at 12:58 PM PST #

Do it matter whether you use Solaris Containers or Zones for the server virtualization?

Posted by Kelly Ragan on November 23, 2009 at 12:07 AM PST #


Solaris Containers and Zones refer to the same virtualization technology. Solaris Containers = (Solaris Zones + resource management). That is, when you restrict/assign/allot resources to a Solaris Zone, technically it becomes a Solaris Container. However many people use the words "Container" and "Zone" interchangeably.

Posted by Giri Mandalika on November 23, 2009 at 06:05 AM PST #

Can you use Sun Containers to virtualize down to the core level? For example, if I have a 2 CPU box with 6 cores for each cpu, can Sun Containers partition 3 Cores for use by OBIEE?

Posted by D Lee on March 26, 2010 at 04:25 AM PDT #

>>[D Lee] if I have a 2 CPU box with 6 cores for each cpu, can Sun Containers partition 3 Cores for use by OBIEE?

Yes. Please check the man page of zonecfg(1M) esp. the portion that talks about capped-cpu, dedicated-cpu resource types along with the ncpus property.

Here is the URL:

"psrinfo" (man psrinfo(1M)) command provides the information about physical and virtual processors.

Posted by Giri Mandalika on March 26, 2010 at 05:22 AM PDT #

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