Linked by Thom Holwerda on Tue 3rd Oct 2006 22:09 UTC
Oracle and SUN Sun Microsystems says its new UltraSparc T1 microprocessor, nicknamed Niagara, is creating a big splash. Sun was set to report Monday that 60 percent of the trial units of Niagara, an open-source product, have been ordered by new customers. This indicates that the company is gaining market share from rivals such as IBM's Power and Intel's Itanium high-performance microprocessor architectures.
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RE[5]: Unfortunately
by evad on Wed 4th Oct 2006 07:53 UTC in reply to "RE[4]: Unfortunately"
evad
Member since:
2005-09-10

Although I agree with all of that...

Since when is parsing an xml file a "brute force task"?

I have to agree with the other guy slightly, is the Niagara taking parallelism too far too fast at the expense of single core performance? Surely the machine should strike a balance between the two and performance of single-threaded applications should not be 32-times worse than a standard modern processor? (I made that last figure up).

If Niagara really is just suited to this small niche then and works well at doing it why is this going to make Sun recover? ;) How can it prove Sun is taking market share when thes systems are very very unique?

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[6]: Unfortunately
by ormandj on Wed 4th Oct 2006 08:26 in reply to "RE[5]: Unfortunately"
ormandj Member since:
2005-10-09

I have to agree with the other guy slightly, is the Niagara taking parallelism too far too fast at the expense of single core performance? Surely the machine should strike a balance between the two and performance of single-threaded applications should not be 32-times worse than a standard modern processor? (I made that last figure up).

No, and I will elaborate in a moment...

If Niagara really is just suited to this small niche then and works well at doing it why is this going to make Sun recover? ;) How can it prove Sun is taking market share when thes systems are very very unique?

It isn't a small niche. It's the vast majority of server workload. Most server-based tasks/processes/programs can utilize the parallelism. The issue (as has always been) - programmers taking advantage of it. Most server-oriented processes (databases, webservers, etc) have been designed to operate efficiently in parallel processing environments. This stems from all the way back when mainframes were the "ultimate".

Even XML parsing in a server-type environment can utilize the parallelism. The key is, understanding HOW to utilize it. You can't really subdivide the parsing of the XML very well (hence the few solutitons for doing so) - but you can process multiple XML inputs at the same time. My (admittedly very basic and flawed by simplicity) example demonstrated this. However, if the application wasn't designed to take advantage of this, and performs XML parsing in series, rather than in parallel, it's going to run slower then the "brute force" type machines can handle it.

Another simple example!

In the situation described below, which would you rather have:

A) One 250lb bodybuilder

B) 32x160lb people

Situation: You want to build a home. You have the plans, material, and somebody to oversee the construction who can direct anybody in the building of a home. You have 2 months to build this home, or you lose your funding.

I'll let you take a guess at who will finish first.

Now, in the XML parsing example the poster first mentioned, the situation is the same, EXCEPT there isn't the guy to oversee the construction.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[7]: Unfortunately
by evad on Wed 4th Oct 2006 09:27 in reply to "RE[6]: Unfortunately"
evad Member since:
2005-09-10

I realise the benefits of parallelism and I seriously believe the future of computing machines and the future of ubiquitous computing is with the parallel programming paradigm.

The only problem is we're quite obviously not there yet. Although programmers have to change (and at my University students are required to learn Occam, old, but, it teaches programmers the ideas and the parallel way of thinking), the programming world won't change overnight.

Hence my point, I believe, still stands, is Sun moving too far too fast - i.e. are they creating an ultra-parallel product where the number of applications that can really take advantage of that is minimal.

Even if they're not moving too fast I really do believe that the market for this isn't massive (yet) and as such it's not really fair to say that uptake of the T1 systems - which I trully believe are fantastic - show Sun is making a market share recovery and gaining share away from POWER and Itanium.

In your example one bodybuilder is 250lb and the rest are just 160lb. Lets say then that the 32 people have just say 50% of the strength and stamina of the bodybuilder. Obviously still here 32 of these will be better, even with the overhead of communication and syncing and waiting.

However, are Niagara's threads even 50% as fast as a standard single core'd modern Opteron? If they are then they're going to do a fantastic job in the real world.

Are the processing cores sufficiently powerful? Perhaps in reality should your example have been one 250lb body builder and 32 small children? Is that a better example when comparing an Opteron to a T1?

I don't know the answer, I'm just asking questions. I'm not attacking parallelism, I'm asking is T1 the best trade off between single threaded performance and parallelism.

corrected a minor spelling mistake

Edited 2006-10-04 09:30

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[6]: Unfortunately
by drdoug on Wed 4th Oct 2006 10:24 in reply to "RE[5]: Unfortunately"
drdoug Member since:
2006-04-30

If Niagara really is just suited to this small niche then and works well at doing it why is this going to make Sun recover? ;) How can it prove Sun is taking market share when thes systems are very very unique?

I would not call high volume webservers a small niche market (It may be the largest niche). The Niagara machines have been Sun's fastest growing sales figures of any of Sun's hardware before it. You are correct in saying that the Niagara is unique, but the properties that make it unique are suited to a very very large market.

Reply Parent Score: 2