This blog forms part of the http://performanceGuru.com website which focuses on performance tuning UNIX-like Operating Systems (including Linux).
Now that I have your attention, yes - its sort of true, the embedded daughterboard, designed by Sun, that provides the ILOM facilities runs embedded Linux. Anyway this gem was from "Sun FireTM X4100 and X4200 Server Architectures - A Technical White Paper"
. Its a very worthwhile read, giving an excellent background on these new servers.
It focuses quite closely on an idealised Intel architecture, ignoring the X-Architecure
chipsets from IBM which deals with the northbridge/southbridge stuff. I'm sure this is good for beating up Dell but could be somewhat of an over-simplification of modern Intel architectures.
However, the TCO stuff brought up in the media by Sun is interesting (twice the perofrmance, half the power = quarter of the power), although I would like to see some data to back it all up - I will go trawl for the data this weekend, I am always somewhat cynical of these large claims concerning performance and power, until I see the configurations and the numbers (if anyone know where these are then please leave a little something in the comments and I will update this post).
After looking at the whitepapers I was quite impressed with the basic architecture, seems very solid. The following things impressed:
- use of IPMI 2.0 (assuming its stable/bug free)
- use of standardised components across the architecture (assuming this continues beyond the first two models)
- availability of IPMI options (although this is fairly standard in most of the current generation of servers)
- the attention to ILOM and the many options available
- support for SMASH/CLP
Things that failed to impress were:
- having to use a dedicated management port (this seemed like a poor decision when we are trying to drive up utilisation - better a VLAN on one of the Intel 82546EB)
- placing a card slower than 100Mhz in PCI slot zero will cause the whole bus to clock at that speed, effecting the performance of the LSI SAS1064
- forcing the use of SAS drives and not supporting SATA on the LSI SAS1064
All in all seems like a reasonable first crack at the "Standard Server Market" but I'm not sure if its really plane flying material. No doubt I will get the chance to benchmark one of these in the near future, so maybe I will be more impressed after I have done this - I open to being more impressed!