Linked by Thom Holwerda on Fri 14th Nov 2008 21:38 UTC, submitted by pantheraleo
Oracle and SUN The world hasn't been kind to Sun for quite a while now, but with the economic downturn, things are getting worse. Sun announced today that it will be laying off 18% of its workforce, or about 6000 people. In addition, it was announced that Sun's software chief Rich Green has resigned for reasons that were not stated, although as part of Sun's reorganization and cost cutting efforts, many departments are being merged, and the software division is being restructured and reorganized.
Thread beginning with comment 337433
To view parent comment, click here.
To read all comments associated with this story, please click here.
RE[2]: Sun performances...
by segedunum on Mon 17th Nov 2008 14:44 UTC in reply to "RE: Sun performances..."
segedunum
Member since:
2005-07-06

This is exactly what Sun's problem has always been - trying to play King Canute and get the tide to go back. You can't pull out a few niche benchmarks and say that a Niagara machine is worth twenty AMD or Intel ones, because everyone knows that isn't true. They still believe that in this time of fast,, cheaper, commodity hardware that costs a few thousands people are still going to pay tens or hundreds of thousands for the Sun and 'enterprise' badges.

One or two things don't add up to me in those articles either. You've got a company that enjoys running Fedora in production, but is then willing to spend a spectacular sum of money on a Niagara hardware platform, Solaris 10 and a new administrator? Please........... Migrating 251 x86 MySQL servers on to 24 Niagara servers is also the most far-fetched and naive thing I have ever seen. No specifics of benchmarks either. This stuff is not helping Sun.

Sun quietly knew many years ago that they were never going to compete with the x86 hardware companies for raw performance, so they backed themselves into ever smaller niches with SPARC. Linux on x86 destroyed SGI's Unix workstation market and wiped Sun's out as well. IBM has backed Power into a very high-end and lucrative mainframe niche, however long that lasts, but Sun don't have that option. For those benchmarks to mean absolutely anything to you, whatever benchmarks they have actually used, then you need to be running an awful lot of totally unrelated parallel tasks and threads, and those tasks need to be very lightweight to complete in a reasonable amount of time. Almost nobody has those kinds of requirements. People want to do related tasks twice as big as last year in half the time, and neither Niagara or Sun can help anyone there.

Additionally, given the parallel march of Intel and AMD in putting ever more cores into their processors, you seriously have to question the longevity of Niagara even in the niche market it has tried to carve out.

The solution is brutally blunt, simple and honest: Either Sun gets some ROI from its expensive research and development people to get Niagara and SPARC platforms on a par performance-wise with comparative x86 Intel and AMD platforms, or it gets shot of it. Being protectionist of the SPARC platform will only have one outcome otherwise.

Reply Parent Score: 1

RE[3]: Sun performances...
by Kebabbert on Mon 17th Nov 2008 17:20 in reply to "RE[2]: Sun performances..."
Kebabbert Member since:
2007-07-27

"You can't pull out a few niche benchmarks and say that a Niagara machine is worth twenty AMD or Intel ones, because everyone knows that isn't true."

But for some multi threaded work loads the Niagara IS many times faster than an x86. You dont trust the benchmarks? They are fake? Or do you think I claim that the Niagara are in general 20 times faster than an x86 cpu? Where do I claim that? Either way, you are wrong. For some work loads the Niagaras are way faster, and neither do I claim Niagaras are that fast in general. Learn to read. When IBM announce an benchmark, it is not meant to be interpreted as a general statement, right? It is a claim regarding that particular set up for that very benchmark. If you think otherwise, you think wrong. Again. I suggest you study some higher mathematics. That will sharpen your thinking skills. As of now, you are drawing wrong conclusions. SUN has always been very clear that Niagara cpus are for throughput and not single threaded work. If you think that SUN generalizes that statement to mean that Niagaras are 20 times faster in general, then you are drawing a false conclusion. Again. Like when you again and again always state that ZFS requires several GB to just run - when I and other have told you several times that ZFS doesnt. Ive told you many times Ive run ZFS on 32 bit pentium 4 with 1 GB RAM for over a year. Wrong again. We dont reach you, that's obvious.




And, yes Niagara hardware is expensive in relation to x86. But in comparison to IBM and HP-UX, they are at a fraction of the price. And way faster on some tasks. For instance one SUN machine with 4 Niagara cpus @ 1.4GHz is twice as fast as 3 IBM Power6 machines @ 4.7 GHz with 12 Power6 CPUs on Siebel benchmarks. SUN: 4 x 1.4GHz = 5.6GHz is twice as fast as 12 x 4.7GHz = 56.4 GHz. And, a lot cheaper also. Maybe it is just me, but for multi threaded work, I would surely examine how SUN Niagara boxes does for my work load. So what if it isnt fast on all workloads? IBM is not fast on all work loads either e.g. multi threaded work load. You try to say that you shouldnt even consider what Niagara boxes can do for your particular work load, because of some strange reason?

Understand this; Niagara boxes compete with IBM AIX Unix and HP-UX unix, not with x86. Everything you say about the Niagara, also applies to IBM Power6. Or IBM mainframes which are 1 IBM mainframe Mips == 4 GHz x86. IBM Mainframe CPUs are really slow. You can emulate one Mainframe on a laptop with a program called Hercules. In fact, Ive heard of a customer that migrated an entire mainframe to a Solaris box with 4 Niagara cpus, with plenty of power left.




The customer that migrated 251 Linux x86 Dell 2950 servers onto 24 Niagara boxes, did a naive thing? Ah, you mean they didnt test anything first? Maybe it is you who are naive if you think companies change their important infra structure without testing and doing an analysis first?

For instance, STRATA second largest web company in Europe which handles up to 1 billion email a day, migrated their whole back end to one Niagara box with 4 cpus with plenty of capacity left. You are naive if you think they would migrate without testing first.

Frankly, you would get fired if you worked at my company. For incompetence. If you have a solution that are cheaper and 10 times faster and suits your work load perfect, and still you wont even consider it, then you are incompetent. You make the company loose money it could have saved.

I dont understand your frankly, ignorant, comments. "Who needs detection of silent corruption as ZFS offers?" "You shouldnt even consider Niagara because they are not that fast in general". etc. Really weird remarks. Unless, you work for IBM or some similar company. Then your comments make sense.



And yes, the ordinary SPARC are not that fast. That is true, but SUN dont claim that either. The advantage of SPARC is that x86 is a buggy architecture, and SPARC is not. For instance Ive heard that the Fujitsi SPARC64 allows you to back an instruction if it turns out to be bad. Only Mainframes had that functionality earlier.

Edited 2008-11-17 17:24 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2

RE[4]: Sun performances...
by segedunum on Tue 18th Nov 2008 00:38 in reply to "RE[3]: Sun performances..."
segedunum Member since:
2005-07-06

But for some multi threaded work loads the Niagara IS many times faster than an x86. You dont trust the benchmarks? They are fake?

No I don't trust them. I don't see any seismic waves on the grapevine as to how much faster these machines are, and the case studies are highly, highly suspicious for the reasons I stated previously. The descriptions some of these people give of their operations (running Fedora in production and then spending a ton of money on Sun kit, for example) simply doesn't stack up. Basically, the only people producing these wondrous benchmarks are Sun themselves and a few organisations Sun are using in their case studies, probably with free kit and consultancy attached for taking part.

It's certainly not an Intel versus AMD shift where lots of verification can be had. Even some benchmarks there have been iffy, but the recent picture has become clear.

Without specifics, the general premise is that you run these machines for very parallel operations. The only way you can possibly make use of this is to split your software operations into a lot of lightweight independent threads of execution, otherwise you are back to work done per single task. Either way, most are going to have to heavily optimise your software to get it to do that. Very, very, very few can exploit multiple cores within a single transactional sequence to any great extent. The simple fact is the vast majority of tasks are pretty single threaded.

Or do you think I claim that the Niagara are in general 20 times faster than an x86 cpu? Where do I claim that?

The premise here is that somehow a Niagara machine is worth any given x86 machine several times over in a specific niche (replace X boxes with Y Niagara machines), benchmarks and specifics of which are thin on the ground outside of Santa Clara. Sun can't really afford to have their hardware people running around playing these games.

Either way, you are wrong. For some work loads the Niagaras are way faster, and neither do I claim Niagaras are that fast in general. Learn to read.

I would suggest you learn to read articles you quote. These are 'benchmarks' issued by Sun and not verified by anyone else, devoid of specifics, and their case studies are merely poster children organisations that have suspect operations. Repeating it won't magically make it true or some statement of fact.

When IBM announce an benchmark, it is not meant to be interpreted as a general statement, right?

No it isn't. Power has failed in terms of raw performance up against x86 machines as well, which is why IBM is keen to avoid crossover where they sell it. Why are you mentioning IBM?

If you think otherwise, you think wrong. Again. I suggest you study some higher mathematics. That will sharpen your thinking skills.

Wow. I would suggest Sun stops spending time trying to tell us about [insert incredible technical innovation that will turn things around here], and spends more time working out why they are laying off thousands and are struggling to break even year after year. Obviously the 'bottom line' skills could do with sharpening.

As of now, you are drawing wrong conclusions. SUN has always been very clear that Niagara cpus are for throughput and not single threaded work.

It's a very, very, very, very, very niche benchmark for the vast majority, with massive effort and retooling required and questionable studies, which has been my point throughout. Sun cannot afford expending R and D money on niche markets unless they are very lucrative. Financial performance. That's the point here.

Ive told you many times Ive run ZFS on 32 bit pentium 4 with 1 GB RAM for over a year. Wrong again. We dont reach you, that's obvious.

"I got Solaris and ZFS up and running on my dinky little 32-bit laptop with 512 MB of memory and, OMG, it didn't die!" does not prove a thing I'm afraid. The BSD guys' experience, and those of many others, are that ZFS will naturally tend to grow unbounded and grab memory as you increase its workload. Its extensive features come at a price, and it depends on whether most think the price is worth paying.

Besides, while you and others argue totally off-topic stuff like this, Sun sheds yet more jobs and is still struggling to get to break-even. Show me the money, as they say.

You try to say that you shouldnt even consider what Niagara boxes can do for your particular work load, because of some strange reason?

I'm not saying that at all. If you have thousands of threads of execution, those threads are quite lightweight, they don't do a lot of number crunching and they are pretty independent and parallel then one of these machines might well be ideal.

Alas, I can't see that being anything other than a niche, the workloads of the majority of organisations don't stay uniform, circumstances change and with advances in x86 machines with multiple cores you question the shelf life of a machine in a year or two that cost your company a lot of money. You're going to look pretty incompetent when your company wants to throw a somewhat new workload at your Niagaras and they fall over...........Niagara falls. Even Sun's consultants are careful where they sell them.

Understand this; Niagara boxes compete with IBM AIX Unix and HP-UX unix, not with x86.

All the major benchmarks and case studies produced for Niagara compare it with x86 and Linux based machines, and talk about workloads such as MySQL and web servers because that's where Sun has been losing out. They don't compete with anything that runs AIX or Power in any way, and that's the problem.

If you believe this then you are very confused about what Sun's target market is for Niagara, which is par for the course really.

Maybe it is you who are naive if you think companies change their important infra structure without testing and doing an analysis first?

Well, they apparently run Fedora in production, so I'd call that naive. Free kit, consultancy and freebies also help. :-)

Frankly, you would get fired if you worked at my company. For incompetence.

Talk to the hand sweetheart. You've spent God knows how many paragraphs talking about everything from ZFS to lovely technical comparisons of Power and SPARC to try and avoid talking about the inevitable, as Sun people love to do - and yet you would ignore Rome burning as you struggle to break-even and your company lays off thousands of people. Quite frankly, you won't get to fire me or anyone else ;-).

If you have a solution that are cheaper and 10 times faster and suits your work load perfect, and still you wont even consider it, then you are incompetent. You make the company loose money it could have saved.

That would be lovely, but alas, in case you hadn't noticed Sun have laid off thousands of workers, again, and they are really struggling to break even year after year. The bottom line is that few out there agree with you.

Unless, you work for IBM or some similar company. Then your comments make sense.

I see an awful lot of people, a great many of them Sun employees, spending a great deal of time and effort banging away on their blogs about IBM, what IBM are saying about them and arguing fruitless points about various meaningless technical benchmarks they have come up with that few are listening to in the hope that will turn things around. You would think they would have other things to do ;-).

Edited 2008-11-18 00:42 UTC

Reply Parent Score: 2