Sun dropping support for the ROCK processor?

I just came across a link from OSNews about Sun dropping development on the ROCK processor. At first I was a bit surprised by this, given the ROCK feature set Sun had been touting for several years. But in practice, this decision doesn’t surprise me for a few reasons:

1. By the time the ROCK was feature complete and ready for market, Intel and AMD should be able to match its performance when you took cost into account.

2. The cost of the ROCK processor would be significantly more than the Intel or AMD counterparts, especially when you factor in things like system redundancy.

3. While the ROCK has some killer technology (e.g., transactional memory), software isn’t quite ready to take advantage of these features.

4. Few applications can truly take advantage of large numbers of hardware execution threads (and using virtualization to run multiple apps on these hosts has its own drawbacks).

5. More and more people are migrating away from SPARC, so I’m not entirely sure a market would exist for the product when it eventually shipped.

While this is definitely a bummer for the SPARC followers, this may actually be a good thing for Sun. I would love to see them focus more on their X64 product line, and use their top notch hardware designers to get more bang for the buck out of their X64 product line. At the end of the day things always boil down to the cost/performance ratio, and given recent advancements in X64 hardware, it’s extremely hard to justify spending an order of magnitude more for SPARC gear when you can get X64 gear at a fraction of the price. I would love to hear what others think about this topic.

Jonathan Schwartz’s update on the recent NetApp patent litigation

I just read Jonathan Schwartz’s update on the Netapp patent litigation. I used to be a huge fan of Network Appliance, and recommended them whenever I got the chance. When I read Dave Hitz’s blog post about NetApp suing Sun for their ZFS implementation, my jaw dropped. I couldn’t believe NetApp would file litigation against an opensource technology, and the high regard I help for NetApp flew out the window. Not only would I never recommend NetApp again, but I would love nothing more than to replace our NetApp filers with thumpers (and I am actively working to persuade my boss to do so). Hopefully NetApp will come to the realization that litigation doesn’t benefit anyone, and they will drop their suit against Sun. Hopefully one day we will get to a litigation free world!

Configuring hardware event notifications on X2200 servers

We live in a world where hardware breaks, and when it does, most adminsitrators want to get notified that something failed, and the specific component that failed. The Sun galaxy server line contains built-in hardware monitoring, and allows hardware events to be sent to administrators through SNMP, email and SYSLOG. The hardware notification facility in the X2200 servers complements the alerting capabilities built-in to the fault management architecture (FMA), and when the two are combined, hardware problems should be relatively easy to diagnose and fix.

To configure the X2200 to send email when a hardware event occurs, an email server and recipient email address need to be configured through the ILOM interface. This can be accomplished by logging into the ILOM and using the set comand to configure a recipient and an SMTP server:

/SP -> set /SP/AgentInfo/mail/receiver1

/SP -> set /SP/AgentInfo/mail SMTPServer=

The X2200 also provides a facility to send syslog messages when a hardare event occurs. To configure the X2200 to generate a syslog message in response to a hardware event, the set command can be run to enable syslog events, and to configure the destination syslog server:

/SP -> set /SP/AgentInfo/SEL ipaddress=

/SP -> set /SP/AgentInfo/SEL status=enable

Once a syslog destination and email server are configured, the set command can be used to enable hardware events. The following set commands will enable hardware events for all sensor types (e.g., fans, CPUs, memory, etc.) and enable email and syslog notifications:

/SP -> set /SP/AgentInfo/PEF/EventFilterTable1 SensorType=all

/SP -> set /SP/AgentInfo/PEF/EventFilterTable1 SendAlert=enable

/SP -> set /SP/AgentInfo/PEF/EventFilterTable1 SendMail=enable

/SP -> set /SP/AgentInfo/PEF/EventFilterTable1 Status=enable

This is good stuff, but there is one downside with the X2200 ILOM (well, actually, there are a lot more, but I will discuss those in a future blog entry). There is currently no way to generate test events from the ILOM, or through the web interface. This is a huge issue IMHO, and it’s unfortunate that Sun didn’t include this in the X2200 ILOM software (most of the other galaxy servers support this, not sure why the X2200 had to be different). Hopefully Sun will address this glaring issue in a future code release.