What's new in Solaris 7?

Unix Insider |  Operating Systems

Q: Sun just announced its major Solaris upgrade. What are the main elements
that will affect performance and capacity planning?


A: There are two distinct announcements I'd like to discuss. One is
Solaris 7 and its new features. The other is a pair of new resource
management products that run on Solaris 2.6. You can find further
discussion of Solaris 7 in Jim Mauro's Inside Solaris
column this month and at http://www.sun.com/solaris.
I talked about fixes to the calculation of wait I/O in Solaris 7 in my column last
month.


Let's start with the name change. We took the 2. away, and Solaris 7
should never be written as 7.0; there is no subversioning. The key
thing to realize is that this is primarily a branding and marketing
name change. The only places the operating system has changed are in
the /etc./release file and in some directory names on install server
boot images. The uname -a command still returns SunOS 5.7,
so all your application install scripts will continue to work as they have been.


New Solaris 7 features

From a performance point of view, the ability to run 64-bit
applications on Solaris 7 has two main benefits. One is that much
larger problems can be solved efficiently using a bigger process
address space; the other is that integer arithmetic computations get
to use 64-bit registers and operations. Overall, programs get
slightly larger due to larger pointer values in code and data
structures. This in turn means that CPU caches are a little less
likely to have enough cache lines, and a slight slowdown might occur in
programs that could run just as well in a 32-bit
environment.


The industry benchmark result that benefits most is the TPC-C
database benchmark. It is overtuned and unrepresentative, but
high-end results require a shared memory segment for the database
that is more than 4 gigabytes (GB) in size. Sun has now announced an
E6500-based record result using Solaris 7 and Sybase. You can get
more information from http://www.tpc.org. Full-disclosure
reports are published there after a week or two of review.


The directory name lookup cache has been upgraded to be dynamically
allocated on demand, rather than preallocated to the full size in
advance. Each cache entry is now variably sized up to the full
pathname component length of 255 characters. The old limit of 30
characters is gone, along with the measure reported by vmstat -s
called toolong, as it would always be 0.

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