Friday Nov 13, 2009

Sun Studio at SuperComputing; also, now in Rocks roll

Sun Studio is now in the Rocks roll both for Solaris and Linux. You will find Sun Studio 12 update 1, Sun ClusterTools and Sun Grid Engine in the Linux roll here at: and for Solaris roll here at: . Bringing Sun Studio to Rocks makes it more readily available for Cluster development, primarily in research organization.

If you arent familiar with the Rocks distribution, it is basically an open-source Linux cluster distribution that enables end users to easily build computational clusters, grid endpoints and visualization tiled-display walls. Rocks is used by researchers to create their own clusters. You can get more information about Rocks here at their site (here).

Sun will be in SuperComputing 09, highlighting Flash technology and many other future technologies its working on. Come join Sun at Birds of a Feather session and at the Whisper Suite . For more info, follow this link.

Wednesday Nov 11, 2009

Sun Studio OpenMP gets 12x improvement on Seismic benchmark on SLES10

This story is hard to pass up:  Sun's BestPerf blog (read the details here) recently reported how they got a 12x performance improvement over a single-threaded version on an important Seismic (Reverse Time Migration) benchmark using Sun Studio's OpenMP feature on SLES10. Its a great story of how Sun can deliver performance through a combination of Sun Studio and new Hardware (via Sun Storage F5100 Flash Array). Yes, this is the same Flash Array that has been the talk of the town and has notched up several World Record wins.
Several points come to mind:
  • Sun Studio and OpenMP are key to exploiting parallel performance. Not just with Flash, but also with multiple cores now becoming the mainstay in chip offerings. Multi-threading, parallel performance (and parallel programming, for those who are willing to take the effort) is going to be even more critical to fully utilize system resources now and into the future.
  • Sun Studio performance here is highlighted on SuSE 10. Note this, because I've had to defended the impression that Sun Studio doesnt do as well on Linux; it does. Sun Studio does not leave any performance, features, tools, options, optimizations out of its offering on Linux.
  • The Flash Array Storage alone gets a 2.2x performance win over 15K disks. But the combination with Sun Studio in achieving parallelism that the Flash Array Storage can exploit is even more attractive.

Tuesday Nov 10, 2009

Sun Studio extends Linux support to OEL

Sun Studio now runs on Oracle Enterprise Linux. This extends the Linux platforms supported to include RHEL 5, SuSE 10, CentOS 5, and now OEL. Sun Studio continues to be available FREE on Linux as well as Solaris and OpenSolaris platforms.
You can download it from the Sun Download center (here).

Wednesday Oct 21, 2009

Showcasing Sun Studio Blogging Contest winners

In June 2009, Sun Studio announced a blogging contest that ran until September.
The winners of that contest are now being showcased on the Sun Studio landing page.
The first winner to be showcased here, on Sun Studio page, and here, at SDN Program News, is Sandeep Koranne, whose entry describes how Sun Studio 12 compilers are used to engineer a complex, innovative discrete geometry algorithmic application. Sandeep is happy that he gets a 20% boost from Sun Studio compilers over GCC. But more than just performance, using Sun Studio 12 Compilers allowed him to "experiment with data-structures, perform automated performance tuning and overall presented a better environment for complex algorithmic coding, where the scientific researcher uses the programming environment to not only develop the code, but also to document and collaborate about the algorithm and methods used in the application" . The code is written in Standard C++, uses STL and written with portability in mind. Sandeep uses an IDE feature for Automated Task List generation innovatively to collect a list of "TODO" items. Neat!
Good work, Sandeep. And congratulations!
And congratulations to the other winners as well.

Wednesday Oct 14, 2009

OOW, day2: Sun, Oracle performance showcase

It was heartening to see a lot of Sun Hardware at Oracle OW.  For years, I've tried to persuade Sun TechDays and other folks to showcase Sun hardware at these developer shows, but its never really materialized in any meaningful way. Sure, theres the odd server for virtualization, etc at the shows, but that was mostly it.
By comparison, there was plenty of Sun HW here. I'm going to try and list out some of the big, hunking boxes I saw in the Sun booth and elsewhere. I'm sure my list isnt complete; I expect I will update this blog to make it more so. For now, here goes, what I saw.
  1. Top of the list, of course, is the Sun Oracle Exadata Version 2(tagline: Hardware from Sun, Software from Oracle). Basically an OLTP database machine billed as twice as fast as its predecessor. This was the treat of the show, showcased just outside the Keynote location. Impressive piece of iron and it drew a lot of crowds (both onlookers as well as buyers, from what I hear).
  2. StorageTek Modular Library system with 200 to 3000 cartridge slots (machine on display had 700). With a robotic arm that was continuously in motion, this machine made an impressive demo. And it was placed right next to our SunStudio booth, which drew curious onlookers.
  3. Sun Storage 7000 Unified Storage, aka Amber Road. This is an amazing amount of data (those on display were 12TB systems) in a small form-factor and with some amazing ease of administration to go with it.
  4. Sun Storage Flash Array system. This is the secret sauce that makes the Exadata database machine tick! Flash speeds are the talk of the town since they have the potential to increase IOPS by an order of magnitude and save $$$ by making disk/Flash tradeoffs for throughput, storage and price.
  5. Rackmount Servers: Mostly featured at the Demo stations were rackmounts systems based on UltraSPARC T2 (Enterprise T5240 servers), or Nehalem (Sun Fire X4450 servers) or AMD servers (Sun Fire 4240 servers)
Besides this, there were banners about the Sun branded database machine built out of UltraSPARC T2 5440s that recently claimed #1 status in all 7 key benchmarks (follow this link). The message was clear, from what I could tell: Sun is going to bring performance to the game and Oracle will optimize all Software to work efficiently on Solaris and Sun systems. In view of recent press announcements touting World Record TPC-C performance and a promise to keep Sun customers happy by investing even more in Sun technology than previously, this showcasing of Sun hardware bodes well for Sun customers as well as for Oracle's enterprise partners and customers. Best of all, there seems to be a palpable excitement in both companies about the synergies around this acquisition that was hard to miss both from the Sun booth as well as the Oracle booths.

Tuesday Oct 13, 2009

First impressions from Oracle OpenWorld

Yesterday was my first day at OOW. Even though there were some scintillating events over the weekend, in particular these keynotes from Sun's Scott McNealy & James Gosling(view here) and Oracle's Larry Ellison (view here), I wasnt at that portion of OOW.
My first impressions, even before I entered Moscone, was Wow! The place was entirely taken over by Oracle. Buses ran billboards advertising Oracle and the event, there was even a huge tent between Moscone North and South, reserved as dining area and essentially closing Howard Street (picture here). There was even the scale model BMW Oracle Racing High-tech Catamaran on display at the Fourth and Howard Streets intersection. Exhibitions were in Moscone South AND Moscone West. Essentially, that 6 block area was nothing but Oracle OpenWorld.
My second impression was suits. Lots and lots of them. Essentially different from IDF, which billed itself as the next, next, next big thing, and JavaOne, which is clearly a hacker's conference (and where James reminded Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz that he was out of place in his suit at the keynote and got huge applause from the audience), this one is a carefully and well-scripted conference. I could not listen to the entire keynote from Phillips and Catz (view here), but what I could hear was very carefully laid out and executed. One astounding fact I gathered (and later could relate to): Oracle has over 3000 products and the portfolio is growing ever faster!
So, I had booth duty on the exhibition floor. Moscone South. Essentially a technology, but even more importantly, a services showcase. All the major partners were there: HP, IBM, Dell, AMD, Intel and of course Sun. And also, networking and wireless partners like Cisco, Brocade, AT&T, Blackberry and Verizon.  But also, Infosys, CSC, NetApp, Deloitte, Wipro, EDS, Accenture, KPMG, PriceWaterhouseCooper, Tata Consulting (TCS). I'm singling out that last list because I havent seen them at any of the developer conferences I usually go to (Sun TechDays, JavaOne, IDF, LinuxWorld, etc). Oracle itself was fairly hidden (or backgrounded), giving their partners essentially all the glory and topspots on the floor.  [Moscone West has a HUGE, HUGE presence which I intend to check out today].
There was a Cloud booth (for those of you who think Oracle is anti-Cloud) and I engaged in some interesting and long discussions with vendors in that booth (except Amazon, I'll corner them today, because they are more of a known quantity as far as I'm concerned, so unlikely that I'll learn anything new). On-Demand computing seems to have a big presence in what Oracle calls "DemoGrounds" (see this picture, eg).
The Sun booths were very strategic and visible. Right next to the main entrance. We had some foot traffic, but for the Sun Studio booth, mostly non-existent. I probably talked to about a dozen to 15 non-Sun folks and some of them were even Oracle folks, who I knew by email before. Given that the crowd was a suited, mostly business IT type crowd, I am not surprised. A few that came by were disappointed that we didnt run on Windows, but were suitably impressed by the offering and demo when I showed them what we had.
An interesting day. Tiring, since the shift turned out to be a 5+ hour shift without a lot of interesting traffic, but I think I learned a bit from others there. Which makes it entirely worthwhile.
More details tomorrow, I hope.


I have worked with Sun and Oracle for 25 years now; in compilers and tools organization for most of these years followed by a couple of years in Cloud Computing. I am now in ISV Engineering, where our primary task is to improve synergy between Oracle Sun Systems and our rich ISV ecosystem


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