Diggin' technology every day

November 14, 2011

NetApp challenge falls without winners

Filed under: Storage — Tags: — Nate @ 9:52 am

This is just too funny.

Nobody won a million pounds of kit from NetApp because data centre nerds thought the offer was unbelievable or couldn’t be bothered with the paperwork.

NetApp UK offered an award of up to £1m in NetApp hardware, software, and services to a lucky customer that managed to reduce its storage usage by 50 per cent through using NetApp gear. The competition’s rules are still available on NetApp’s website.

For years, I have been bombarded with marketing from NetApp (indirectly from the VARs and consultants they have bribed over the years) about the efficiency of the NetApp platform, especially de-dupe, how it will save you tons of money on storage etc.

Indirectly because I absolutely refused to talk directly to the NetApp team in Seattle after how badly they treated me when I was interested in being a customer a few years ago. It seemed just as bad as EMC was (at the time). I want to be treated as a customer, not a number.

Ironically enough it was NetApp that drove me into the arms of 3PAR, long before I really understood what the 3PAR technology was all about. It was NetApp’s refusal to lend me an evaluation system for any length of time which is what sealed the deal for my first 3PAR purchase. Naturally, at the time 3PAR was falling head over heels at the opportunity to give us an eval, and so we did evaluate their product, an E200 at the time. Which in the end directly led to 4 more array purchases(with a 5th coming soon I believe), and who knows how many more indirectly as a result of my advocacy either here or as a customer reference.

Fortunately my boss at the time, was kind of like me, when the end of the road came for NetApp – and when they dropped their pants (prices) so low that most people could not ignore, my boss was to the point where NetApp could of given us the stuff for free and he would of still bought 3PAR. We asked for eval for weeks and they refused us every time until the last minute.

I have no doubt that de-dupe is effective, how effective is dependent on a large number of factors. Suffice to say I don’t buy it yet myself, at least not as a primary reason to purchase primary storage for online applications.

Anyways, I think this contest, more than anything else is a perfect example. You would think that the NetApp folks out there would of jumped on this, but there are no winners, that is too bad, but very amusing.

I can’t stop giggling.

I guess I should thank NetApp for pointing me in the right direction in the beginning of my serious foray into the storage realm.

So, thanks NetApp! 🙂

Four posts in one morning! And it’s not even 9AM yet! You’d think I have been up since 5AM writing and you’d be right.

AMD Launches Opteron 6200s

Filed under: General — Tags: , , — Nate @ 9:06 am

UPDATED I have three words:

About damn time.

I’ve been waiting for a long time for these, was expecting them months ago, had to put in orders with Opteron 6100s a few weeks ago because I couldn’t wait any longer for the 6200s. Sigh. I’m half hoping I can get HP to exchange my 6100s for 6200s since the 6100s are still sitting in boxes. Though that may be being too hopeful given my time line for deployment. One thing’s for sure though, if HP can pull it off they’ll make my decision on which version of vSphere to go with pretty easy since vSphere 4 tops out at 12 cores.

AMD has finally launched the 6200, which everyone knows is the world’s first 16-core x86-64 processor, and is socket compatible with the 6100 processor which launched over a year ago providing an easy upgrade path.

I’m just running through some of the new stuff now, one feature which is nice and I believe I mentioned it a while ago is the TDP Cap, which allows a user to set the maximum power usage of the processor, basically more granular control than technologies that were used previous to it. I don’t believe it has the ability to dynamically turn cores on and off based on this value though which is unfortunate – maybe next time. Excluding the new turbo core support which is different technology.

AMD Turbo Core

I thought this was pretty cool, I was just reading about it in their slide deck. I thought, at first it was going to be similar to the Intel Turbo or IBM Turbo technology where, if I recall right (don’t quote me), the system can more or less shut off all the other cores on the socket and turbo charge a single core to super sonic speeds. AMD Turbo core operates on all cores simultaneously by between 300-500Mhz if the workload fits the power envelope of the processor. It can do the same for half of the on board cores but instead of 300-500Mhz boost the frequency by up to 1Ghz.

Memory Enhancements

It also supports higher performance memory as well as something called LR-DIMMs, which I had never heard of before. Load Reduced DIMMs seem they allow you to add more memory to the system. Even after reading the stuff on Micron’s site I’m not sure of the advantage.

I recall on the 6100 there was a memory performance hit when you utilized all 12 memory slots per CPU socket (vs using only 8/socket). I don’t see whether this is different on the 6200 or not.

Power and Performance

The highest end, lowest power Opteron 6100 seems to be the 6176 (not to be confused with the 6176 SE). The 6176 (by itself) is not even mentioned on AMD’s site (though it is on HP’s site and my recent servers have it). It is a 2.3Ghz 12-core 80W (115W TDP) processor. It seems AMD has changed their power ratings from the ACP they were using before to the TDP (what Intel uses). If I recall right ACP was something like average processor power usage, vs TDP is peak usage(?).

The 6276 is the new high end lower power option, which is a 16-core 2.3Ghz processor with the same power usage. So they managed to squeeze in an extra 9.2Ghz worth of processing power in the same power envelope. That’s pretty impressive.

There’s not a lot of performance metrics out at this stage, but here’s something I found on AMD’s site:

SPEC Int rate_base2006 Mainstream CPUs

That’s a very good price/performance ratio. This graph is for “mainstream CPUs” that is CPUs with “normal” power usage, not ultra high end CPUs which consume a lot more power. Those are four socket systems so for the CPUs alone on the high end from Intel would run $8,236, and from AMD $3,152. Then there is the motherboard+chipset from Intel which will carry a premium over AMD as well since Intel has different price/scalability bands for their processors between their two socket and four socket systems (where AMD does not, though with Intel you can now get two socket versions of servers with the latest Intel processors they still seem to carry a decent premium since I believe they use the same chipsets as the four socket boxes the two socket versions are made more for memory capacity bound workloads rather than CPU bound).

They have floating point performance too though for the stuff I do floating point doesn’t really matter, more useful probably for SGI and Cray and their super computers.

It’s not the 3.5Ghz that AMD was talking about but I trust that is some point. AMD has been having some manufacturing issues recently which probably was the main cause for the delays of the 6200, hopefully they get those worked out in short order.

HP has already updated their stuff to reflect support for the latest processors in their existing platforms.

From HP’s site, here are the newest 16 core processors:

  • 6282SE (2.6GHz/16-core/16MB/140W TDP) Processor
  • 6276 (2.3GHz/16-core/16MB/115W TDP) Processor
  • 6274 (2.2GHz/16-core/16MB/115W TDP) Processor
  • 6272 (2.1GHz/16-core/16MB/115W TDP) Processor
  • 6262HE (1.6GHz/16-core/16MB/85W TDP) Processor

Few more stats –

  • L1 CPU Cache slashed from 128kB to 48kB (total 1,536kB to 768kB)
  • L2 CPU Cache increased from 512kB to 1,000 kB (total 6,144kB to 12,000kB)
  • L3 CPU Cache increased from 12,288 kB to 16,384 kB (1,024kB per core for both procs)
  • Memory controller clock speed increased from 1.8Ghz to 2Ghz
  • CMOS process shrunk from 45nm to 32nm

Interesting how they shifted focus away from the L1 cache to the L2 cache.

Anyone know how many transistors are on this thing? And how many were on the 6100 ? How about on some of the recent Intel chips?

Now to go figure out how much these things actually cost and what the lead times are.

UPDATE – I know pricing at least now, the new 16 core procs are, as the above graph implies actually cheaper than the 12-core versions! That’s just insane, how often does that happen?!?!

Bottom line

With so many things driving virtualization these days, and with such high consolidation ratios, especially with workloads that are not CPU constrained(which are most), myself I like the value that the 6000-series AMD chips give, especially the number of raw cores without hyperthreading. The AMD 6000 platform is the first AMD platform I have really, truly liked I want to say going back a long, long ways. I’ll admit I was mistaken in my ways for a few years when I was on the Intel bandwagon. Though I have been on the ‘give me more cores’ bandwagon ever since the first Intel quad core processor. Now that AMD has the most cores, on a highly efficient platform, I suppose I gravitate towards them now. There are limits to how far you go to get cores of course, I’m not sure what my limit is. I’ve mentioned in the past I wouldn’t be interested in something like a 48x200Mhz CPU for example. The Opteron 6000 has a nice balance of per-core performance (certainly can’t match Intel’s per core performance but it’s halfway decent especially given the price), and many, many cores.

Three blog posts in one morning, busy morning!

Oracle throws in Xen virtualization towel?

Filed under: Virtualization — Tags: , — Nate @ 7:03 am

This just hit me a few seconds ago and it gave me something else to write about so here goes.

Oracle recently released Solaris 11, the first major rev to Solaris in many many years. I remember using Solaris 10 back in 2005, wow it’s been a while!

They’re calling it the first cloud OS. I can’t say I really agree with that, vSphere, and even ESX before that has been more cloudy than Solaris for many years now, and remains today.

While their Xen-based Oracle VM is still included in Solaris 11, the focus clearly seems to be Solaris Zones, which, as far as I know is a more advanced version of User mode linux (which seems to be abandoned now?).

Zones, and UML are nothing new, Zones having been first released more than six years ago. It’s certainly a different approach to a full hypervisor approach so has less overhead, but overall I believe is an outdated approach to utility computing (using the term cloud computing makes me feel sick).

Oracle Solaris Zones virtualization scales up to hundreds of zones per physical node at a 15x lower overhead than VMware and without artificial limits on memory, network, CPU and storage resources.

It’s an interesting strategy, and a fairly unique one in today’s world, so it should give Oracle some differentiation.  I have been following the Xen bandwagon off and on for many years and never felt it a compelling platform, without a re-write. Red Hat, SuSE and several other open source folks have basically abandoned Xen at this point and now it seems Oracle is shifting focus away from Xen as well.

I don’t see many new organizations gravitating towards Solaris zones that aren’t Solaris users already (or at least have Solaris expertise in house), if they haven’t switched by now…

New, integrated network virtualization allows customers to create high-performance, low-cost data center topologies within a single OS instance for ultimate flexibility, bandwidth control and observability.

The terms ultimate flexibility and single OS instance seem to be in conflict here.

The efficiency of modern hypervisors is to the point now where the overhead doesn’t matter in probably 98% of cases. The other 2% can be handled by running jobs on physical hardware. I still don’t believe I would run a hypervisor on workloads that are truely hardware bound, ones that really exploit the performance of the underlying hardware. Those are few and far between outside of specialist niches these days though, I had one about a year and a half ago, but haven’t come across one since.


Travel, Data centers, cars

Filed under: Random Thought — Nate @ 5:03 am

It’s about 85 hours until I start my next road trip up to Seattle, I have been thinking about it and I think this is my most anticipated “vacation” I’ve gone on in as long as I can remember. I will be having a lot of fun during the 3 short days I will be in town for.

My next trip is going to be to Atlanta, which is in less than a month. I’m going to visit one of the largest data centers in the world, to install some equipment for my company. I visited a smaller data center outside of Seattle that weighed in at around 500,000 square feet, though I only saw a small portion of it, never really got to see the scale of the place because it was very closed off(the portion I was visiting was sub leased by Internap). Maybe they expanded it recently since they claim 1.2M square feet of data center space now….

So if you have any suggestions for places to eat or drink or hang out while I’m in Atlanta let me know, I’m not sure yet how much spare time I’ll have or how long I’ll be in town for. I have one friend in Atlanta that I plan to see while I am there, he said he thinks he has some equipment in the same facility.

Now a short update on my car. One of my friends said I should post an update on my car situation given that I bought a new car earlier this year, an uncommon one at that. It’s been almost 9 months and 10,000 miles.

10,000 miles on the odometer

The Good

It’s still very fun to drive, the torque vectoring all wheel drive corners like nobody’s business, really grips the road good. It’s very easy to park, being smaller than my previous SUV, and the rear parking camera helps a ton as well in that department. I routinely park in spots I would never even CONSIDER even TRYING to park in with my previous vehicle (which was a 2001 Nissan Pathfinder). I have had no issues with the car to-date.

The Bad

Nothing major. I suppose my biggest complaints for day-to-day use is the user interface to the stereo system. It’s only crashed once which is nice. My main complaints revolve around MP3 meta data. The stereo does not remember any of the meta data between restarts, it takes about 3-4 minutes to re-generate the meta data from the ID3 tags after a restart (it does pick up where it left off when it starts as far as music goes though — although song ordering is messed up at that point). The user interface also becomes completely unresponsive for a good four seconds when a new song loads so it can load the meta data for that song. I don’t know why this is, I mean my $40 portable MP3 players do a better job than the car stereo does at this point. The Garmin-powered navigation works quite well though. I also cannot access the video inputs when the car is not in park, which is annoying. I read on some sites it’s state law that you can’t do things like watch DVDs while driving so they have a connection to the parking brake that disables the video when the car is not in park. What I’d like to see more though is the rear camera on the road though, I think it would give a good viewing angle for changing lanes but I can’t get to that either.

Another minor complaint is my sub woofer in the trunk. It sounds awesome, it’s just a whole lot bigger than I was expecting when I asked Car Toys to install it. I really thought it was going to be flush with the floor allowing near full use of the trunk. But it is not flush it sticks up quite a bit, and thus I lose quite a bit of trunk capacity(the trunk as-is is already really small). For the most part it’s not a big deal though I rarely need the trunk. I have gotten used to using the back seats for my shopping.

I was really worried when I was moving to California, if I would have enough space for the last of my crap after the movers left(and my two cats). With the back seats down though I had more than enough space(was I relieved!).

The sound and navigation system(and backup camera) was all after market(which I paid a lot for), so it’s not really related to the car directly since it wasn’t included with the car.

Another minor complaint remains the lack of an arm wrest but I often rest my elbow on the passenger seat. Also the “tounge” of my sneakers have a habbit of triggering my gas cap to open when I leave the car on occasion.

The biggest drawback to buying a new car and moving to California less than a year after I bought it was .. buying a car and moving to California less than a year after I bought it.

I took my sweet time to register my car in this state, I didn’t check to see what the laws were but thought I had something like 60-90 days or whatever. In any case I didn’t register it until later, the last week of October to be precise. Technically I have 20 days to register the car I learned.

So what was my registration fees ? I asked my sister and she said “$49?” Not $49, not $99, not $299, not $599.

About $2,200. I think the actual registration was around $200. Then I had another $200 in late fees, THEN I had $1,500 in sales taxes (?!) Apparently the law in California now says that if you buy a new car and move here less than a year afterwards you have to pay CA state sales tax on the car (minus any taxes you paid in the origin state). A YEAR. The DMV person said it used to be 90 days, but they recently extended it to a year. That, of course I was not expecting at all. I showed them my original receipt and apparently I paid about $400 in WA state sales tax, and I owed CA nearly four times that. That certainly seems unfair, both to me and to WA. Not only that but they backdated my registration to August.

Apparently my CA drivers license which I had when I moved to WA in 2000 expired in 2003, so when I went to get a new drivers license they said it was technically a renewal instead of a new license so the test to take was shorter (which I barely passed, missing 3 out of a maximum of 3 questions, another person in front of me missed quite a bit more, she missed about 10 of 20 questions total).

I’ve kept my WA state plates on for now since I’m going back to WA this week for a few days.

I suppose the gas mileage isn’t as high as I was expecting it was going to be, with an official rating of 27 city, 32 highway I think I get closer to 20-21 city, and maybe 25 highway. It’s not a big deal though I didn’t buy this car thinking it would be a hybrid, it still gets quite a bit better milage than my Pathfinder which on an absolutely perfect day on the highway would get about 19.9, city I’m thinking more 10-12 range (premium gas for both). I push my Juke much harder than my Pathfinder, getting up to 3-4500 RPM on a regular basis, sometimes even 5,000+. I don’t think I ever pushed my Pathfinder beyond 4,000 RPM (didn’t try). I waste quite a bit of gas as the Juke encourages me to drive faster, that’s fine for me though I don’t mind.

The Funny/Strange

I’ve run into probably 15 other Jukes in my travels in the past 9 months. It’s strange because when I have someone in the car with me and I see a Juke I point it out, and get pretty excited. I see others do the same to me quite often as well (assuming they are in a Juke too).  I haven’t seen any in California for a month or so. One day I saw at least two the same day.

Lots o Miles

So even though I walk to work every day (I live 0.4 miles from the office), I still managed to put on quite a few miles so far, and about to put a whole lot more on. With about 2,000 miles to/from Seattle, and may be making a 2nd trip next week to Orange County which is about another 1,000 miles total.

So much for that ‘short update’ huh!

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