Real-World Performance

Performance for the real-world, where it matters the most.

A major portion of my job (@ PAE) is spent trying to optimize Solaris for real customer workloads. We tend to focus on databases, but work with other applications too. We have tons (both weight wise and dollar wise :-)) of equipment in our labs, where we try to replicate a real enterprise data center. Of course, the term "real customer workload" is a loaded term. Since most big customers are rarely willing to share their workloads, we have to simulate them or write something close it in house. Trying to rewrite every customer's workload is not a scalable approach. Hence we have developed a workload called OLTP/Net that can be retrofitted to fit most customer workloads. Using several tuning knobs we can control the amount of reads, writes, network packet per transaction, connects, disconnects, etc.. Think of it like a super workload! We have used it quite effectively to simulate several customer workloads.

There is a big difference in trying to get the best numbers for a benchmark and in replicating a customer's setup. PAE has traditionally focused on getting the most out of the system. Our machines typically run at 100% utilization, run the latest and greatest Solaris builds, have lot of tunings applied to the system. We believe fully in Carry Millsap's statement

Each CPU cycle that passes by unused is a cycle that you will never have a chance to use again; it is wasted forever. Time marches irrevocably onward."
(Performance Management: Myths & Fact, Cary V. Millsap, Oracle Corp, June 28, 1999)

However, many customers run their machines at less than 100% utilization to leave enough headroom for growth. When machines are not running at 100% utilization, things like idle loop performance matter a lot. If you have followed Solaris releases closely, there were several enhancements to the idle loop performance that increase the efficiency of lightly loaded systems by quite a bit. Similarly we have seen quite a few UFS + Database performance enhancements over the past few releases of Solaris.

So while benchmark numbers do matter, real performance also matters, and we are working on it!

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