This week has been full of Sun all over the news. They officialy released their Niagara cpu as an Ultrasparc T1, released first Solaris builds with their new ZFS filesystem and of top of everything, offered their ide/compiler/tools Studio 11 for free. Looks like Sun is rising back from the ashes ...
Phoenix style :)
So what does all that mean? Right now it's kinda difficult to gather all the information scattered around many sun blogs and other sites ... Right now there are also no thirdparty benchmakrs to actually validate the value of all these new toys ... Because thats what they are to us serverroom geeks, exciting new toys. For example, this Niagara thing. It's a cpu that no one with their right mind would like to have in a desktop machine, but that just about everyone would have to like to have it in their web tier servers. Possibly also in the app tier. Because the thing is designed to run many jobs in parralel, each of them fast enough, not breaking any speed records for a single job, but very likely for the amount of work done in the unit of time.
Then, there's the ZFS. Smart folks at Sun have done an interesting job with it. While the whole industry is built on the disk-as-block-device + volume manager of some sort + filesystem paradigma, they were able to stand back and look at the whole thing from the entirely new perspective. Gone are the blocks, welcome to the objects. Gone are the fscks, welcome to the transactions and always consistent data. Gone is the predefined size of the filesystems, welcome to the dynamically resizing world. And so is gone the need for a volume manager. Other exciting blinking lights and knobs include snapshots and clones (or what is known as "flash copy" in IBM terminology), full checksums of all data, compression and encryption.
The last thing, Studio 11, is what I know the least about. Go ask developers, if they'd like to have optimized compilers for their machines and some tools to analyze performance bottlenecks ... I guess the answer is yes. Actually the compiler is the reason I wanted to get some SGI mips hardware, because I heard that when something compiles cleanly with that compiler, then it's really well written. Ofcourse, the common assumption was that their compiler is just b0rken :)
Now that reminds me I'm still missing some ultrasparc machines from my collection ...