When working with a platform for managing networks, integrating systems through middleware, or presenting data to customers - web servers and encryption become extremely important. These two factors should be considered when choosing a platform.
Network Management increasingly requires encryption and compression functions for transport protocols. Encryption is part of established protocols such as SNMPv3. Compression is common in proprietary protocols, where data is built on a foreign platform, shipped to the management platform (increasingly over encrypted HTTPS), and unbundled.
Seasoned architects agree that the combination of encryption and web server performance becomes a key factor with scaling any application in large applications.
Web Serving Platform Metrics
Traditional benchmarks had surrounded CPU single thread performance in integer and floating point. Business applications were single threaded on desktops in the past, but modern applications are centrally deployed, driving the need for new benchmarks.
Newer benchmarks had surrounded multi-threaded CPU integer and floating point performance. Newer high-throughput CPU's, such as the Hex Core 7000 Series Intel provide outstanding throughput in comparison to older Octal Core T2 SPARC Series.
Sockets MHz Result Vendor Model
4 1414 301.0 SUN T2+ (8 cores/socket)
4 2667 294.0 Intel Xeon X7460 (6 cores/socket)
2 1415 160.0 SUN T2+ (8 cores/socket)
2 2667 158.0 Intel Xeon X7460 (6 cores/socket)
1 1417 085.5 SUN T2 (8 cores/socket)
CINT2006 Rates, 1 Sockets, (Cores/Socket > 5)
CINT2006 Rates, 2 Sockets, (Cores/Socket > 5)
CINT2006 Rates, 4 Sockets, (Cores/Socket > 5)
This is a better metric for measuring scalability of centrally deployed application, but this is beginning to be insufficient when modern CPU architectures include other embedded functionality to accelerate modern management applications with encryption and web serving requirements.
Web Serving Platform Metrics
Understanding the implications in platform choice in modern management application deployment has been lacking, until newer benchmarks have been made available.
The SPECweb2005 benchmark is a good start.
Platform Performance Metric Implications
Viewing the high-end of the report, performance implications are astounding.
|Sun UltraSPARC T2||1||8||8||41847||Jan-2008|
|AMD Opteron 8384||4||4||16||48007||Jan-2009|
|Intel Xeon X7460||4||6||24||51395||Jun-2008 *|
Is the best platform to deploy applications on a hex-core Intel or an octal-core SPARC?
The 4 processor Intel Xeon X7460 from vendors like HP will run you a similar cost to a 1 processor Sun SPARC T2 (i.e. low-mid $20K US$) - so it seems like a good possibility from price perspective.
Probably not, if heat, cost, scalability, future growth, and rack space are considerations.
- The Quad-Socket Hex-Core Intel platforms are typically 4U-5U in height, while the Single-Socket Octal-Core SPARC platforms are typically 1U in height.
- The Quad-Socket Hex-Core Intel platforms are typically at their maximum number of CPU's, meaning a total of 8 sockets will mean 8U-10U in height, while the Dual-Socket Octal-Core SPARC platforms are typically 1U in height... but the Intel platform will require clustering hardware & software to take advantage of the additional capacity at lack of linear scalibility, while the SPARC platform will just scale linearly.
- The Quad-Socket Hex-Core Intel platforms are typically at their maximum number of CPU's, meaning a total of 12 sockets will mean 12U-15U in height, while the Quad-Socket Octal-Core SPARC platforms are typically 4U in height... but the Intel platform will require clustering hardware & software to take advantage of the additional capacity at lack of linear scalibility, while the SPARC platform will just scale linearly.
- The Quad-Socket Hex-Core Intel platforms are typically at their maximum number of CPU's, meaning a total of 16 sockets will mean 16U-20U in height, while the Quad-Socket Octal-Core SPARC platforms are typically 4U in height... but the Intel platform will require clustering hardware & software to take advantage of the additional capacity at lack of linear scalibility, while the SPARC platform will just scale linearly.
|Sun UltraSPARC T2||1||8||8||1U||$25K||SUN T5120|
|Sun UltraSPARC T2+||2||8||16||1U||$35K||SUN T5140|
|Sun UltraSPARC T2+||3||8||24||4U||$70K||SUN T5440|
|Sun UltraSPARC T2+||4||8||32||4U||$90K||SUN T5440|
|Intel Xeon X7460||4||6||24||4U||$25K||HP DL580|
|Intel Xeon X7460||8||6||48||8U||$50K *||HP DL580|
|Intel Xeon X7460||12||6||72||12U||$75K *||HP DL580|
|Intel Xeon X7460||16||6||96||16U||$100K *||HP DL580|
It should be noted, the T2 and T2+ processors run 8 threads per core, meaning that single thread performance is slower than the single thread performance on the Xeon, while Opteron seems to have best single thread performance.
If single threaded performance is a requirement, then this should be kept in mind.
Future Architecture Planning
It is clear that the T2 & T2+ architecture is competitive today, while leading the market from the date of their initial release.
The T2 and T2+ processors have been out for years, indicating that a refresh on this CPU line will probably be released soon, to compete with the brand new Intel hex-core processors released just months back.
Considering how old the T2 processor line is and seeing how well it competes with modern processors on a price/performance basis, there is a good indication that the refreshed line will give a tremendous application performance boost, if you can delay hardware purchases until Q3 or Q4 of 2009 over the competition.