[GTALUG] a niggle about parallel

Christopher Browne cbbrowne at gmail.com
Tue Jan 30 18:53:49 EST 2018

On 30 January 2018 at 17:58, David Collier-Brown via talk
<talk at gtalug.org> wrote:
> On 30/01/18 05:06 PM, Lennart Sorensen via talk wrote:
>> On Tue, Jan 30, 2018 at 03:49:54PM -0500, D. Hugh Redelmeier via talk
>> wrote:
>>> The Sun T series looked very interesting to me when it came out.  It
>>> looked to me as if the market didn't take note.  Perhaps too many had
>>> already written Sun off -- at least to the extent of using their
>>> hardware for new purposes.  Also Sun's cost structure for marketing
>>> and sales was probably a big drag.
>> Most developers were totally unprepared for parallel computing at
>> the time.  So most people couldn't write software to take advantage of
>> the chips.
> That was true of the non-Sun experimental architectures, like the Intel 432
> and various VLIW machines. The Sun T machines ran ordinary SPARC code
> without any changes or recompiling.
> It very definitely wasn't for applications that already parallelized. Our
> customers didn't have such things! Hadoop was almost unknown to them then.
> I suspect Sun had already fallen off too many people's radar, and the
> performance improvement didn't change anyone's  minds.

We had a talk on this back in 2008; Russell Crook talked about T1, Rock,
Niagara and such...


I remember the talk; fascinating stuff.

They could already see some "writing on the wall;" sales were suffering pretty
badly at the time.

A Niagara box sounded to be around $50K at the time, which is a dose both
of too little *and* too much.

It was "too little" in that that wasn't enough money to cover "high
touch" support
where it would make sense for Sun to fly in an engineer to help people tune
their systems.

And it was "too much" because people were starting to get accustomed to
buying multiprocessor IA-32 boxes (and possibly X86-64; memory
isn't serving me...) that were rather less than that.  Maybe the Niagara is
better and faster, but it's expensive to prove that if you wanted to
spend $10K...

The Rock-based servers were apparently still in the million$ of dollar range,
but those were getting much more difficult to sell, as people could do a lot
of useful things with $10K boxes...

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