Monday Sep 02, 2013

READ_ME_FIRST: What Do I Do With All Of Those SPARC Threads?

This is a technical white paper with a fairly challenging title, but it actually describes the contents quite well.

We wrote this paper because the new SPARC T5 and M5 Oracle servers provide so much main memory plus so many cores and threads that one may wonder how to manage and deploy such a kind of system. They're pretty unique in the market.

This is why we joined forces and set ourselves the goal of providing a holistic view on this topic.

The paper is written in a modular way and readers can select the individual topics they're interested in, but of course we hope you'll read it front to back and find it useful. Perhaps the Glossary at the end comes in handy too. 

The first part covers the processor and system architectures, but only to the extent we felt is needed for the remainder of the paper. There are several other white papers that go into an awful lot more detail on this.

The next part targets those (thinking about) developing parallel applications and looking for tips and tricks what choices need to be made and how to make real world codes scale. That is no mean feat, but rewarding and long lasting. Think about it. The trend is upward and the size of systems can be expected to continue to scale up. Any investment done today in improving scalability is going to help. There is a learning curve as well and the sooner one begins, the better.

We feel these chapters are however also of use to those not directly involved writing parallel code. It helps to understand what happens under the hood and may explain things one has observed experimentally. For example why there may be a diminishing return on adding more and more threads.

The third part covers the virtualization features available and how these can be used to configure the system to the needs. Perhaps to run legacy applications that require an older software environment and do this side by side with applications running in a more modern environment. On top of that, each of such applications can be multi-threaded, providing the optimal configuration per application.

The paper concludes with a brief coverage of key Solaris features. Not everybody realizes the importance of a scalable OS and how much on-going engineering investment is needed to continue to improve the scalability of Solaris.

We hope you find this technical white paper useful and of course feedback is encouraged! 

About

Picture of Ruud

Ruud van der Pas is a Senior Staff Engineer in the Microelectronics organization at Oracle. His focus is on application performance, both for single threaded, as well as for multi-threaded programs. He is also co-author on the book Using OpenMP

Cover of the Using OpenMP book

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