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Mad Larry seeks to rule all with Sun/Oracle Comments Off on Mad Larry seeks to rule all with Sun/Oracle

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I’d still like to know what to call Sun once the merger is complete. Sucle is my favourite, although I suspect it’ll end up being something boring like “Sun, an Oracle company”. While busy decrying the EU investigation into the takeover costing Oracle $100m a day, Larry has also been addressing a technology forum on Monday, and was shy about laying out his plans for world domination.

Key takeaway points from his speech were:

“I would like us to be the successor to IBM”

“We think with the combination of Sun technology and Oracle technology we can succeed and beat IBM – that’s our goal.”

“We are keeping everything. We’re keeping tape. We’re keeping storage. We’re keeping x86 technology and SPARC technology – and we’re going to increase the investment in it.”

“Sun has fantastic technology. We think it’s got great microprocessor technology – it needs a little more investment, but we think it can be extremely competitive. It’s got the leading tape archival systems. We think the Open Storage on their new disk system is absolutely fantastic. Java speaks for itself. Solaris is overwhelmingly the best open-systems operating system on the planet.”

“I shall buy Sun for *seven* *billion* *dollars* muahahahhaha”

“I shall call [Jonathan Schwartz] Mini Me”

Wait, sorry, no – those last two I made up. Although I’m sure Larry is enjoying a Bond villain style evil laugh as he contemplates finally putting the boot in to IBM, whilst stroking his devil goatee.

Joking aside, he’s right – Sun has a lot of really excellent technology, and historically they’ve failed to follow through with most of it. Oracle’s ruthless sales methodology will be striking some fear into some Sun sales managers, but engineers (and customers) should be taking comfort hearing this sort of fighting talk.

Of course, the deal (still!) isn’t done, and it might be a while before we see some systems hitting the market on the back of this enthusiasm. Still, I think Sun have totally neglected the higher end systems, relying on Fujitsu to do the hard graft – with any luck, we should be seeing some big Niagra boxes coming soon.

New HPC for Dummies book announced Comments Off on New HPC for Dummies book announced

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There’s been a great need for a while now for a decent, easy to understand introduction to HPC. Those of us who’ve worked in this niche understand the acronyms and weird technology, but for newcomers – even those with a good background in IT – HPC can be an intimidating arena.

Couple this with the blurring between ‘traditional’ HPC systems for research, and new high end business solutions for statistical analysis and database warehouses, and there’s a real need to de-mystify HPC for all.

Douglas Eadline, working with Sun and AMD, has written HPC for Dummies, and the blurb explains:

This special edition eBook from Sun and AMD shares details on real-world uses of HPC, explains the different types of HPC, guides you on how to choose between different suppliers, and provides benchmarks and guidelines you can use to get your system up and running.

What makes this really great is that this is a free ebook, available direct for download from Sun’s site. I can highly recommend that anyone with an interest in HPC (or just large scale systems design) grabs this and has a read through.

Head on over to Sun’s HPC for Dummies page.

Configuring Sun’s Extras repository in OpenSolaris Comments Off on Configuring Sun’s Extras repository in OpenSolaris

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OpenSolaris by default comes configured to pull packages from at least one repository – the main one at OpenSolaris.org. You can configure other repositories fairly easily – both Blastwave and Sunfreeware some available with IPS versions of their existing Solaris packages.

However, Sun also offer two extra repositories – one for those with a support contract for OpenSolaris, and one containing extra software – a bit like the old Extras CD that came with the Solaris media pack.

The main site for accessing all of this is https://pkg.sun.com If you don’t already have a Sun ID and password, you’ll need to follow the links from that page to register for them (don’t worry, it’s free). Then login, and you can see you’re presented with links to generate Certificates for the two repositories. Let’s assume you’re not a corporate user and don’t have a support contract, and concentrate on the Extras repository.

Click the link to generate the key and certificate for pkg.sun.com/opensolaris/extra and save them somewhere safe – you’ll be needing them again. For example, I tend to stick them in /var/ssl/pkg as well as keeping copies in my home directory.

Now what we need to do is add the Extras repository as a publisher in the package management system, and then link the key and certificate to that publisher.

So in this example we can accomplish this in one command (note the backslash to fit it across two lines):

$ pfexec pkg set-publisher -O https://pkg.sun.com/opensolaris/extra \
-k /var/pkg/ssl/OpenSolaris_extras.key.pem -c /var/pkg/ssl/OpenSolaris_extras.certificate.pem extra

All this does is:

  • adds a new repository at https://pkg.sun.com/opensolaris/extra
  • links the key (-k) /var/pkg/ssl/OpenSolaris_extras.key.pem to it
  • links the certificate (-c) /var/pkg/ssl/OpenSolaris_extras.certificate.pem to it
  • gives it the name ‘extra’ in the package manager

That’s all there is to it. Now you can use the standard OpenSolaris package management commands:

  • pkg refresh will update the catalog with the packages from the new repository
  • pkg install can be used to install them

And of course, if you’re using the OpenSolaris package manager gui, you can select the new repository from the drop-down list of available repositories, and then browse through from there.

New SPARC solutions are on their way Comments Off on New SPARC solutions are on their way

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The Hotchips conference is over, and with it comes some news from Sun about their SPARC plans. Sun shared details of it’s “Rainbow Falls” processor – the next iteration in the Niagara line.

Boasting 16 cores, each with it’s own cache, it’s an impressive bit of silicon. Each core has 4 Coherency Units (COU). Familiar to anyone who’s played with big Silicon Graphics kit and other cc:NUMA boxes, Coherency Units keep track of memory contents (from L2 cache up to physical RAM).

4 COUs per core, along with 16 seperate L2 caches, is a lot on a single die. To simplify things (and to help improve performance) Sun has added a Core to Cache Crossbar (CCX). Two cores will share a single entry point into the CCX, which is linked to every core on the chip.

It’s essentially a standard switching crossbar – like UPA, Xbow, NUMAlink etc. – except it’s linking cores and L2 caches, not CPUs, RAM, and I/O bays.

All pretty impressive stuff – remember, this is all on the processor die – and it sounds like it would be ideal in a large system. Those M9000 boxes look pretty inviting, especially after the disappointment of the Niagara system board upgrades for the F15k.

And in fact, maybe that’s what Oracle has up it’s sleeve. The Prophets of Larry have said they will be making a major SPARC announcement on October 14th, during Larry’s yearly sermon to the faithful at Oracleworld. (Sorry, guys – I love you really)

With IBM pushing forward development of it’s fearsome Power7 chip, and with Power6 a bit of a monster anyway, Sun clearly needs to keep in the game – especially after (foolishly) canning Rock.

The Oracle announcement will be aimed clearly at blowing the doors off IBM – check their rhetoric and the fuzzy teaser advert on the Sun plus Oracle is Faster page.

Now, there are a number of ways they could bury IBM in the TPC-C benchmarks. Most obvious would be a massive RAC install, probably with Fujitsu’s new 8 way SPARC64 chip. But that wouldn’t really be blowing the Sun SPARC trumpet, would it?

The current top end Niagara box – the T5440 – can have up to four 8 core Niagara CPUs (along with half a terabyte of RAM). It’s pretty good, but again – the only way you can scale is by clustering them. Oracle have an insanely great scalable database solution with Oracle RAC, so it would seem a no-brainer.

However, if Sun are close to releasing Rainbow Falls, they could use the system boards and interconnects from the M9000 chassis to produce a hugely thread-dense NUMA machine. All that coherency hardware makes no sense for a cluster – it’s role is in a big Single System Image (SSI) machine.

We’ll find out in a month.

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