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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Is HP spewing FUD because its stupid?

Yesterday it was pointed out by Alan Hargraves that HP created this The Real Story about Sun's Niagara, While Alan and even Ben Rockwood are quick to point out that HP is spewing FUD, I think they are missing the point. HP is SCARED! This is the second quarter in a row that Sun has come out with products that put there product line to shame. First the Galaxy glass Opteron boxes, HP doesn’t have an answer for, even if they do its still in the pre-production pipeline they bought into Intel’s scheme of Xeon’s and itaniums that put more GHz and Heat and power consumption in the box and little else. No hot-swap fans, no hot-swap power supply in a such a small package. HP just stuck its head in the sand and hoped the Galaxy class servers would go away.

Now this quarter Sun goes and does it again. This time with Niagara, 8 cores and 4 threads per core, this is at least one full generation ahead of what they are doing, I would guess 2 or 3 generations. Intel has no answer for the 2 core Opterons, till next year at least. Dual core itaniums are even further out and no clue when 4 core itaniums are coming to market. Yet here is sun with 8 cores in a 1U package with less power consumption. They know full well that there is a market segment for light weight processes. Apache servers are all multithreaded take a look at top or prstat, and you see that multiple small tasks running, each with multiple threads. Email is the same way; do you really need a monolithic 4GHz server to process a 2k email message? They see there customers work loads are simple java or php apps that generate 2 to 50k of data then exit and even then ½ the data is on the database that is another task or on another machine.

HP had to see these trend miles ahead, but you can’t turn the titanic on a dime. Everyone is moving to Linux, what does Linux excel at? Small threads and processes moving quickly on and off the CPU, HPUX isn’t tuned for it. They jump on the Linux bandwagon and let it work its magic in software, while Xeons and itaniums keep trying to be faster, yet the faster it goes, the more chance that the current thread/task is going to sit and spin waiting for data either in ram or more likely that is on the disk or worse still coming down the network pipe. How does the CPU respond? Switch threads and do something else then it has to flush our cache and wait for the process to load the caches then run. Sun comes along and does in hardware what Linux does in software, lots and lots of small tasks and threads pumping out data, if one process spins waiting for data, there are more cores still processing data. Of course Sun also adds the features that make the CPU even better at little threads/tasks. Shared cache, 4 on CPU memory controllers that move data at 25GB/s. Intel’s solution doesn’t even do 1/4th that much memory IO.

In conclusion HP isn’t spewing FUD because its stupid, they are spewing FUD because they are scared, they are on a freight train speeding down the side of a mountain at full speed, they bought into the myth that Intel would catch up with AMD and that power and AC would keep pace if that wasn’t bad enough Sun goes and throws a switch in the track and releases a machine that does exactly what all there clients need and they sell it for less.


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