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Oracle Stats Sun Microsystems Hardware

Is the Sparc T4 Too Little Too Late? 128

packetrat writes "Ars Technica reports on Monday's launch of the Sparc T4, and how it finally (nearly 20 years after everyone else) brings out-of-order execution to Sun Sparc ... er, Oracle Sparc. But the benchmarks that Oracle has thrown up (surprise) are a smokescreen for the fact that the processor is still woefully behind state of the art, and it serves mostly as a placeholder to keep the remaining Sparc user base from defecting to Intel — even as Oracle is selling systems based on Intel and Oracle Linux. With the right benchmarks, my minivan outperforms a Maserati. The T4 is a minivan."
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Is the Sparc T4 Too Little Too Late?

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  • Ignorant article (Score:5, Interesting)

    by John Bayko ( 632961 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @03:16PM (#37544068)

    Sun had out of order SPARCs for years, contrary to the article's claims. Sun had a two pronged strategy, one aimed at single thread performance (the UltraSPARC series), the other at multithreaded performance (the T series). The UltraSPARCs were never really that good, so were eventually dropped in favour of the Fujitsu SPARC64 series, and the replacement (code named "rock") was dropped by Oracle because progress seemed stalled forever, but they did indeed have out of order execution, register renaming, and "Rock" had a promising "pre-execution" thread that was supposed to alert cache controllers ahead of time to pre-fetch data that can't be statically predicted, dropping cache misses to near zero.

    The purpose of the multithreaded processor was to support mainly I/O bound tasks, and lots of them - web servers are like this, though more in the past where web content was more static. In those systems, a T series SPARC system noticeably outperformed similarly priced competition (with similar reliability - you could get a lot cheaper if you didn't care about component quality).

    The single threading improvements in the T series are being added because even I/O bound systems often have compute-bound tasks. In particular, the T4 lets you assign one high priority thread which gets to hog CPU resources, in addition to out of order execution and other techniques that all threads benefit from, so I/O bound threads don't get hung up waiting for a single CPU-bound task to finish.

  • Re:car analogy (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ILongForDarkness ( 1134931 ) on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @03:25PM (#37544222)
    I agree with the I/O. I worked at a large research centre with a 3000 tape LTO 4 library and 200TB (about 20 RAID arrays) disk SAN attached to one 2 socket T2 machine. The machine didn't even budge when recovering from a couple tapes, backing up to another 3, and pumping out 10Gbps to userland. It just gobbled up NFS traffic like crazy because it had 128 concurrent threads of capacity. Even Intels high end chip only has 20 and Intel gets all excited about it but the Sparc has had 64 for 4+ years. Maybe it isn't so great with database load, I'm not sure but it kicked but as a fileserver.
  • Re:Old news (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 28, 2011 @11:41PM (#37549406)

    An incomplete, and incompetent analysis by Ars Technica. Let's keep the facts straight here.

    The T4 cpu isn't designed to work as someone's gaming rig cpu. It's not designed to run the Linux environment (thank god! - there's enough bad Linux servers out there, don't need any more - no it's not the hardware's fault, it's the OS itself, coupled with bad drivers from vendors)

    It's designed to make workloads run on the Solaris OS.

    With things like thread parking, lightweight processes, many threads per core, wire speed encryption, decryption, the Solaris OS coupled with the early model T series CPUs ran circles around every other system when running heavy web loads (java and other threaded engines).

    It's drawbacks were from workloads that were either poorly written, or designed to run in a single, heavy thread - say a database or such.

    With the T4 cpu, each core will automatically detect the workload assigned to it and stay in many thread or switch to an optimized single thread operation.

    This will allow a database to run great, while web services running the apps that attach to the database (probably in different containers) to all coexist, and each workload get excellent throughput.

    Try doing that on anything Intel or AMD has to offer, and well - you can't. They just can't do it. They'll stumble, they'll fall, they'll trip over themselves and go splat.

    Intel / AMD are like thoroughbreds, designed to go fast. Put a load on em and they slow wayyyy down.

    Sun CPUs are more like plow-horses (granted, very fast plow horses today). Put a load on em and they continue to run at the same pace, well beyond other CPU manufacturers.

    Ars Technica doesn't account for this. They're trying to wedge the Sun/Oracle CPUs into the wrong container, and it shows.

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