Justin Mason is a God

Posted on December 22, 2005, under apache, general, niagara.

… at least according to Tim Bray.

JM with a Halo

He’s also got a photo of a seemingly disinterested me;

Me, bored

… getting a demo of the dtrace stuff. In fairness, dtrace is really impressive, and a few of us httpd committers hope to add dtrace inspection points to Apache over the coming months, it looks really useful. Matty has already done some really useful work in this regard over here, where you’ll find mod_dtrace and some other interesting examples. They should be taken with a pinch of salt though, Matty isn’t quite getting how pools work and some of his examples misinterpret what’s going on, but still it’s excellent work all the same.

I thought Tim’s keynote was actually very good, but I found one part of it really dissapointing. Their raw numbers on the Niagara system were totally bogus, he quoted a figure of 25,000 requests/second from the box, both in the presentation and the article, but it’s really not. It can do way way better. We had a close look at the system and found amongst other things that the httpd was a 32-bit build, which was a bad start, and as Tim points out the benchmarking was being done with ab from a laptop. Since our dual Itanium box can push 25,000 reqs/second in its sleep, I’m guessing their Niagara box can easily push at least 4 times that number, especially with the event MPM. It maxed at 290 Mbit/second too, which is quite low (despite what Tim might think). Just last week we shipped 1.2Gbit/sec in production without actually noticing much at all, so again I’d say the Niagra box can at least quadruple that kind of number. Of course it’s great that the numbers were wrong in the conservative direction, the opposite of the usual corporate PR.

The guys mentioned that they have some detailed Specweb stats, so it’ll be neat to see those. The platform did really “feel” fast (by which I mean responsive), not the usual sparc sense of treacle-like slowness, and dtrace really is an amazing utility. I know I’ll be looking very very seriously at the platform, and I already like their low-end X64 boxes as an alternative to Dell. So I have to agree with God, Sun really have made a gigantic sea-change, and it is kind of mind-blowing. Good stuff!

Update: I’ve applied for a free box from Sun for 60 days, to benchmark it myself, thouroughly.

2 Replies to "Justin Mason is a God"


jmason  on December 22, 2005

hahaha! that’s hilarious!

I was actually chatting to two BBC engineers about RTE at the time that was taken…


/~colmmacc/ » Blog Archive » Busy, Busy, Busy  on February 22, 2006

[...] Update: A reader got in contact with me to ask how the trial of the latest Sun kit went. Like I blogged last December, Sun announced a free trial of their Niagra boxes for people to determine how good they are and to consider buying some. As far as I can tell, this trial is vapourware. We never heard back, despite filling in the form again and mailing just to be sure. A few other people we’ve talked too attested to a similar experience. I guess Sun still suck. [...]

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