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Hewlett-Packard's latest HP-UX 11i v3 release tackles performance

This newest HP-UX update includes features for improving I/O performance in virtual machines and on Oracle and SAP apps.

Hewlett-Packard Co. has once again updated its HP-UX Unix operating system. This time HP has focused mainly on increasing I/O performance, CPU efficiency, and performance of Oracle, SAP and other online transaction processing and Unix workloads.

For more on HP-UX:
HP-UX gets yet another update with HP-UX 11i v3

HP-UX nPars gets more flexible, but is it enough?

This is the third update that HP has rolled out for HP-UX 11i v3 which was first released in February 2007. HP has since provided updates for the OS every six months. Earlier updates included increased nPar (or nPartition) flexibility and a rejiggering of HP-UX's "operating environments."

With this update, HP has focused on tuning its Unix operating system while keeping it stable.

Here is a list of HP-UX 11i v3's new features:

  • HP Integrity Virtual Machines with Accelerated Virtual I/O. With HP Integrity VM, virtual machines sit on top of HP-UX, which communicates with the bare metal. But having a lot of VMs can create I/O bottlenecks, which are the "Achilles' heel" of server virtualization, said Brian Cox, the director of software planning for business-critical systems at HP. This new HP-UX feature provides a "gatekeeper function" that can prioritize traffic so the most critical data gets transferred first, resulting in double the bandwidth and up to 60% better CPU efficiency.
  • Locality-Optimized Resource Alignment, or LORA, allows HP-UX to use physically closer resources such as CPU and memory to complete an application. LORA is designed for larger symmetric multiprocessing machines such as the HP Superdome, which can have dozens of cell boards, akin to a mainframe's processor books, explained Tony Iams, a VP and analyst at Ideas International Inc.. Just as with the mainframe, "you may have applications and workloads grouped around certain processors and memory banks," Iams said. In those cases, "you have to spend a lot of time studying the behavior of applications, and you really require close cooperation between hardware and software."
  • ktracer, HP-UX's kernel tracing tool, similar to Sun Microsystems' Solaris dtrace, which has been available for more than three years, and IBM's kernel tracing tool for AIX, called probevue. Cox said that HP already "had these tools scattered in bits and pieces" but that "this is the first time we pulled it all together."
  • Tune-N-Tools is a feature that increases performance of Oracle, SAP and other Unix workloads by up to 50%. HP developed Tune-N-Tools by studying the performance behavior and traffic patterns of the target workloads and by developing predefined HP-UX parameters that can be set when deploying the application. As an example, when deploying an I/O-intensive business intelligence workload, Tune-N-Tools would configure HP-UX to put a lot of emphasis on read performance.
HP-UX is fairly stable at this point.
Tony Iams,
analystIdeas International Inc.

In this latest HP-UX release, no individual feature is a standout, said Iams. But taken together, they underscore the maturity and stability of the operating system.

"There isn't anything that is earth-shattering here," said Tony Iams, a VP and analyst at Ideas International Inc. "HP-UX is fairly stable at this point. Without introducing major functionality, they can really concentrate on performance."

Let us know what you think about the story; email Mark Fontecchio, News Writer. You can also check out our Server Farming blog.

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