Solaris vs Red Hat

Sorry guys, the heading is not mine. Its coming from the discussion at www.osnews.com where the Solaris 10 networking is being discussed. It is pretty interesting discussion if you filter out few of the usual posting where people don't really know the facts.

I was surprised to see a large number of people who know Solaris voicing their positive opinions. Normally, people from Solaris world are not very vocal on discussion groups and public forums. So that is a surprising (and good) change. Guys keep it up!

Someone mentioned that why are we not targetting Windows. Come on guys, you got to be serious. I am an engineer and do you think I design networking architecture targeted to beat windows :) As pointed out in the comments, they are not even on my radar. Maybe in next twenty years, their technology will match our current stuff but then we would have hopefully moved on :\^) And yes, as I am told, we do beat Windows 2003 by 20-30% on a 2 CPU x86 box (Opteron 2x2.2GHz with 2 Gb RAM) on webbench (static, dynamic and ecommerce). There are probably more benchmarks but frankly we hadn't had time to compare or publish. Our sole aim right now is to improve the real customer workloads and we are depending on customers to tell us these numbers.

As for AIX and HP-UX (and I am going to get in trouble now with my bosses for saying this), they just don't exist in any significant manner. I have talked to a large numbers of customers in past two years since part of our approach is to understand what the customer is having trouble with and what he will need going forward, and let me be really honest, I don't see HP-UX at all and very little AIX. Yes I do see IBM and HP machines, but they are all running Linux (please no flames, this is just my experience).

Again, when we are designing/writing new code, we do like to set some targets. When it comes to scaling across large number of CPUs, we have always done very well because thats where we focused. We never really looked at 1-2 CPU performance before since it was always easy to add more processors on SPARC platforms. Linux on the other hand has really simple code that allowed it to perform very well on 1 CPU. So our challenge was to come up with an architecture that could beat Linux on low end and still allowed us to scale linearly on high end and sure enough, we created FireEngine . Its the same code that runs on SPARC platforms scaling linearly and runs pretty fast on 2 CPU x86 platforms. And as you add more CPUs on x86 (going to 4 and 8 and then dual core), we just start becoming very compelling architecture.

As for some people commenting about the validity on the numbers comparing Solaris 10 and Apache with RHEL AS3 and Apache on www.sun.com, they are on the same H/W. Its a 2x2.2 Ghz Opteron box (V20z) with 6Gb RAM and 2 Broadcom Gig NICs. The numbers were done on webbench and the other major web performance benchmark that we can't talk about since the numbers are not published yet. These numbers are for out of box Solaris 10 32bits with no tuning at all (entire FireEngine focus was on out of box performance for real customer workloads). And frankly, we are not really interested in benchmarks because all the Linux web performance numbers (for instance SPECweb99) are published using TUX or Red Hat content accelarator. I haven't come across a single customer who is running TUX so far. So why doesn't someone publish a Linux Apache number without any benchmark special and we will be sure to put resources to meet/beat those numbers. That I think would be a more fair comparison. And thats why I am far more impressed by customer quotes like the one from "Bill Morgan, CIO at Philadelphia Stock Exchange Inc.", where he said that Solaris 10 improved his trading capacity by 36%. Now we are not talking about a micro benchmark here but a system level capacity. This was on a 12 way E4800 (SPARC platform). Basically, they loaded Solaris 10 on the same H/W and were able to do 36% more stock transactions per second.

And once again, I am not really anti Linux or anything. I just need something to compete against in a good natured way (HP-UX, AIX, IRIX are not around anymore, and I still can't bring myself down to compete with Windows). Before FireEngine, it was Linux guys who used to pull my leg saying when will I make Solaris perform as well as Linux on 1 CPU. Well, Solaris does perform now and some of the guys who used ot pull my leg took me out for beer when they loaded Solaris express on their system. And knowing them, I might be buying the next round somewhere down the line.

Oh, before I end, I wanted to just touch on why we are not comparing against RHEL AS4beta. Well, its not us who is doing the comparing but our customers. And that is because although Solaris 10 is due to ship now, things like FireEngine have been available and stable for almost a year. If I am to do the comparison, I will pick the latest in Red hat but I will compare it against Solaris 10 Update (due out 3-6 months after Solaris 10). And you know what, we haven't exactly been sitting around for the past year. Solaris 10 update will improve performance over S10 FCS by another 20-25% on networking workloads.

Comments:

"I/O-intensive operations": On the Sun Java System Directory Server 5.2. The Solaris OS tests were conducted on a Sun Fire V20z server with two 2-GHz AMD Opteron processors, 8 GB of RAM, two internal Seagate Cheetah Ultra320 SCSI disks, and two Gigabit Ethernet ports. Linux tests were conducted on a Sun Fire V20z server with 4 GB of RAM.

8Gb vs 4Gb???? Now is it fair?
http://www.sun.com/2004-1012/feature/bench.html#foot6

Posted by Iouri Goussev on October 17, 2004 at 12:46 AM PDT #

Could it be that RH Linux kernel performance degrades after 4GB RAM? Or else RH Linux out of the box does not support over 4GB RAM; I am not 100% sure.

Posted by PatrickG on October 17, 2004 at 02:23 AM PDT #

Hi, I am looking at a server platform for Solaris 10. You can see my thoughts at http://42.blogs.warnock.me.uk/2004/10/buying_sun_is_t.html and http://42.blogs.warnock.me.uk/2004/10/solaris_hardwar.html I am trying to get a comparison between x86, AMD Opteron and Sparc entry level servers, all from Sun. To be used for Samba, java web applications and SunRay server. Thanks Dave

Posted by Dave Warnock on October 17, 2004 at 09:26 AM PDT #

checking http://www.specbench.org/web99/results/ thereare no results for solaris10. MOST OF the other vendors have posted resulst. WHEN will sun follow suit and post them for independent confirmation&comparison?

Posted by Ivan A on October 19, 2004 at 06:29 AM PDT #

Sunay, I can't wait for Solaris 10 to come out and show Linux for the complete hack it is. It's refreshing to see how professional the Sun kernel developers are in a time when most developers just complain "About everything." Note, I've used Linux since 0.99PL12 so it's not that I don't like Linux, just I realize unlike the /. crowd that it's far from perfect. I had a hot rod ('70 Mustang fastback 4 spd 351C) in High School but I never thought it was a Ferrari. Solaris is clearly the Ferrari of OS's and Linux is clearly the hot rod. I just wish the /. Linux people could graduate from High School

Posted by Bryan Althaus on October 22, 2004 at 01:24 AM PDT #

It's a shame they benchmarked redhat 3.0, which uses a 2.4 kernel. It'd be nice if you used linux 2.6 for your benchmarks - that's what Solaris 10 is going to fight against, not 2.4. And Linux 2.6 its so much better than linux 2.4...(it's not a surprise if linux 2.4 sucks with lots of cpus) By the way, NASA just presented the fatest supercomputer on the world - which seems to run Linux -> http://www.sgi.com/company_info/newsroom/press_releases/2004/october/columbia.html I don't know what's the highest CPU number for Solaris, but the beasts behind are 20 Altix boxes - only 16 were used for the benchmark. Each Altix box has 512 CPUs - yes, 512 cpus, and it's a single image running linux. The times when Solaris people had to tell linux people how to scale linearly on high CPU counts have gone a long time ago.

Posted by - on October 26, 2004 at 10:11 AM PDT #

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Sunay Tripathi, Sun Distinguished Engineer, Solaris Core OS, writes a weblog on architecture for Solaris Networking Stack, GLDv3 (Nemo) framework, Crossbow Network Virtualization and related things

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