Sun appeals to large server users with Solaris update

Sun Microsystems Inc. on Tuesday released an incremental upgrade of its Solaris Unix operating system for the Sparc platform, improving memory management and quality of service and adding developer versions of it portal and Web servers.

Solaris 9 9/02 features Memory Placement Optimization (MPO), which optimizes memory placement in large multiprocessor servers to take advantage of local memory and thereby improve performance, according to Sun.

"The MPO is all about performance. What this does is on the high end of Sun's system product line, it makes [the servers] perform better and scale to higher numbers of CPUs," said Sun's Bill Moffitt, Solaris product line manager, in Menlo Park, Calif.

MPO keeps pages in virtual memory closer to the CPU that is executing the code. "It just makes it more efficient," Moffitt said. The improvement is intended for high-end servers such as Sun Fire model 3800 systems and upward, he said.

Sun has seen performance improvements from 10 to 40 percent through MPO in code it has run in test systems, according to Moffitt. Applications can boost scalability among a greater number of processors using MPO, he said.

The OS upgrade also features Solaris 9 IPQoS (IP Quality of Service), for improved network bandwidth management in servers. Part of Sun's Solaris Containers technology for creating instances of Solaris to run on multiple servers, IPQoS enables administrators to provide varying levels of network service to customers and critical applications. A service provider, for example, could ensure each application on the system receives a guaranteed amount of bandwidth.

The feature, Moffitt said, "allows you to manage the bandwidth coming into applications."

IPQoS is an improvement to the Solaris Resource Manager.

An analyst said Sun's improvements would appeal to environments such as high-performance computing and data warehousing.

"These are [improvements] that are going to be of interest to somewhat limited groups," said Gordon Haff, analyst at Illuminata, in Nashua, N.H. "MPO basically provides some non-uniform memory improvements for specific types of applications."

"The Unix vendors are always tweaking their scale-up system performance, and this is another tweak," Haff said.

Also included in the upgrade are bundled versions of Sun ONE Portal Server, Sun ONE Web Server, and the Sun ONE Studio 4 and Sun ONE Studio 7 development tools. Studio 4 is for Java development while Studio 7 supports C, C++, and Fortan development. The two development tools are included in the operating system under a try-and-buy arrangement.

The portal and Web servers are developer versions. To deploy applications on these products costs US$1,495 per CPU for the Web server and $57,000 per CPU for the portal.

Version 9/02 also supports vertical market features, such as Carrier Grade Transport Protocol (CGTP), for building high-availability networks in a telecommunications environment.

Sun recently decided to move Solaris back on the Intel x86 platform. Improvements announced on Tuesday will be included in the Solaris 9 release for Intel planned for the end of the year, if applicable. Some features, such as MPO, do not apply to Intel systems because Intel boxes do not scale high enough to warrant this support, Moffitt said.

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