[rescue] E10k systems coming down in price

Curtis H. Wilbar Jr. rescue at hawkmountain.net
Fri Jul 18 15:57:23 CDT 2003

>Date: Fri, 18 Jul 2003 09:42:46 -0700 (PDT)
>From: Skeezics Boondoggle <skeezics at q7.com>
>To: rescue at sunhelp.org
>Subject: Re: [rescue] E10k systems coming down in price
>On Fri, 18 Jul 2003, "Joshua D. Boyd" wrote:
>> On Fri, Jul 18, 2003 at 10:14:51AM -0400, Curtis H. Wilbar Jr. wrote:
>> > On a machine like an E10K, it would be nearly pointless to run anything but
>> > Solaris.
>> > 
>> > Currently even if Linux, FreeBSD, and NetBSD ran on the E10K (I do not
>> > believe any of them do yet), none of them would be anywhere near as
>> > efficient in MP/MT as Solaris.  Solaris's scheduling threads within
>> > the kernel alone makes a big difference in MT performance as your
>> > processor count goes up.
>Actually, I recall an email from a friend and Linux kernel banger who 
>showed the output of Linux booting on an E10k, so they must have at least 
>rudimentary support for the Gigaplane...

interesting... wonder what became of it ?
>> > Don't get me wrong, I like allBSD, and Linux, and pretty much most UNIX,
>> > but for a box this big, the money you would save by running non Solaris
>> > is going to be lost in the performance penalty you will pay for not really
>> > "using" the hardware to it's fullest.
>> That theory only holds for people hoping to use the E10k for commercial
>> reasons.  For non-commercials reasons, all the money you save is money
>> you save, since the operating inefficiency doesn't result in lost
>> profits anyway.
>Well, you also lose a lot of the nifty features that make machines like
>the E10k so cool - hot swapping system boards, for example.  I think the
>idea behind machines of that scale is that you plug it in, turn it on, and
>let it run forever - having to reboot for something as mundane as a board
>or CPU failure is unacceptable. :-)  Other things, like support for
>domains, inter-domain networking, environmental monitoring, etc. probably
>aren't there yet, either.

To me this is the exact point of why you want to run Solaris on it...
however at Sun's prices only big business will be doing so, and they 
will probably opt for new (where they can negotiate more on what is
bundled with the fancy new hardware and not pay stellar prices for the OS).

>Those are the things that differentiate Solaris, along with other features
>in the kernel that allow for massive scalability.  Sun abandoned the
>"uniprocessor mode" vs. "multiprocessor mode" thing quite some time ago,
>so the Linux guys like to beat up on the fact that on single-user or even
>1-4 way small SMPs that Linux is faster - and in some tests it certainly
>may be (context switch times, faster fork(), etc.)  However, get beyond
>12-16 CPUs and it falls over, while Solaris is just starting to hit its
>stride.  It just doesn't make sense to cram all those high-end features 
>into the typical Linux distribution, but I expect that in time there will 
>be a Linux optimized for larger systems.

I like Solaris' implementation of threads.

So, speaking of such, since Linux implements threads in user space, can
thread execution in an MP machine be across multiple CPUs, are are they
limited to running within the one process scheduled on one CPU ?

With Solaris threads are scheduled independantly at the kernel level, so
I know MT will run across MP in Solaris.  Just wondering what thread
implementations will allow this.

>Personally, though, I would find a Linux monoculture just as odious and
>unpleasant to contemplate as a Windows monoculture; nobody has a monopoly
>on good ideas, and the narrowing of choices is not only personally
>grievous but, I think, dangerous to the health of the industry as a whole.  
>This may be unfair to the more passionate Linux advocates out there, but
>Linux without commercial Unices to emulate/copy/steal from would be just
>as dead as Windows without Apple to emulate/copy/steal from.

I like pretty much most UNIX based operating systems (Linux is not technically
a UNIX, but as far as I'm concerned if it looks like UNIX, smells like UNIX,
interfaces like UNIX, it for all intensive purposes is UNIX).... however
the Linux religous are just as irritating at times as the Wintel religious....
arg !  I know some people into Linux, that are so Linux religous that
without thinking if there is a situation requiring a computer, Linux is 
the way to go......  I've only ever won this argument in the case of heavy
MT stuff... then they agree Solaris :-)

>But hey, if "the market decides" our computing future is 100% Wintel and
>the last remaining OS and microprocessor choices narrow to just the latest
>commodity crap pumped out of Redmond and Santa Clara, well, I'll just play
>with my old computers and go do something else for a living.  Be a plumber
>or something.  Which is very similar to system administration, if you
>think about it.

Well, you can be a plumber, but I'd probably have to give in to Wintel
for work...  (I couldn't hack it physically as a plumber... but more power
to you though :-) ).

>> Besides, how are the various free OSs supposed to get better if they
>> don't have machines to work on?
>Yeah.  The OSDL was supposed to do that... I'll just refrain from comment
>since I've had a couple of very talented friends who worked there and
>bailed on the place.

interesting....  liked the sound of the OSDL, but this make me wonder...
Was it too political, too much influence by big vendors, or did management
just not follow through with the "mission" ?

><peave> Besides, large systems are "dead," remember? The so-called Top 500
>Supercomputers list is now full of Wintel clusters (and clusters in
>general).  Am I the only one who finds that virtually useless?  If you
>have a problem to solve that isn't particularly well suited to
>partitioning over a grid or cluster and you just want to find out which
>_machine_ is the biggest/best/baddest for the task, the Top 500 rankings
>don't tell you that anymore.  If you want to add up all 30 machines in
>your basement and your cell phone, toaster, PDA, your microwave and the
>Postscript interpreter in your printer and publish a list of Top 500
>Supercomputing _sites_, based on the aggregate computing power, then
>that's fine - but just call it what it is.  I'd still like to know how the
>large systems rank in terms of running one single OS image in
>non-clustered, non-grid, single standalone system configurations.  
>Y'know, who's waving one big willy instead of 4,096 little ones. :-) Maybe
>it's irrelevant, nowadays.  But it seems silly to be ranking who can pile
>up the most boxes, rather than which individual boxes can do the most work
>(so that you can then pile up a bunch of those! :-) </peave>

That list becomes an interesting thing to note, but not very informative...
want more performance, just add more nodes.... it doesn't say anything
about how good the nodes are (i.e. you need 1000 nodes to match 20 nodes
of a different platform).  I agree with you that that is not a very
usefull collection of data now.

>La la la, it's Friday, only 7 more hours 'til beer:30.

I don't drink (alcohol :-) )... so drink one for me :-)

>-- Chris
>rescue list - http://www.sunhelp.org/mailman/listinfo/rescue

-- Curt

Curtis Wilbar
Hawk Mountain Networks
rescue at hawkmountain.net

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