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Sunbelt W2Knews™ Electronic Newsletter
The secret of those "who always seem to know" - Over 500,000 Readers!
Sat, Jun 13, 1998
NTools E-NewsFlash - June 13, 1998
  This issue of W2Knews™ contains:
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NTools E-NewsFlash - June 13, 1998
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As you know, this is the short update in between full issues
of NTools E-News. I have a few interesting items for you.

-------------------------------------------------------------
1) NEW FREE PERFORMANCE BENCHMARK TOOL
2) NT 5.0 ENTERPRISE EDITION SUPPORTS 16-WAY CLUSTERING
3) TECH BRIEFING: WHAT'S SMP, AND THE DIFFERENCE WITH NUMA?
4) NT BOOK OF THE MONTH
5) THE NT STOCK WATCH
-------------------------------------------------------------

1) NEW FREE PERFORMANCE BENCHMARK TOOL

First of all, most of you like free stuff. So we have a brand 
new NT performance related goodie for you. Two months ago we 
released AutoPilot, the first real-time dynamic tuner for NT. 
The amount of downloads was enormous, like 3,500 within a 
week. That was not so suprising as in our Spring '98 survey 
72% of you indicated that you were struggling with slow NT 
server performance.

But what happened is that most of you were so busy that you
did not have the time to do any kind of performance bench-
marking. So we decided to make your life a little easier and
talk to the developer of AutoPilot. The result was a free copy 
of a new, fast and effective benchmark based on the industry 
TPS standard (Transactions Per Second) and we have it ready
for you to download...

It's called APBench and you can use it to baseline any NT box
at any time, then make a change and run it again. APBench will 
come up with the number of TPS in something like 3 minutes.
Of course APBench is also able to run the TPS benchmark, then
turn on AutoPilot and run it again and calculate the increase
so that you have an immediate result and know if AutoPilot will
do something for your system. (We think so after looking at the
results).

You can now download a 30-day eval of the latest version of 
AutoPilot and the free APBench (which does not expire) to test
this out on your own system. The time needed to install AutoPilot, 
next APBench and then get the TPS of your NT System with and 
without AutoPilot is now less than 15 minutes! Here it is: 

http://www.sunbelt-software.com/autoplt.htm
----------------------------

2) NT 5.0 ENTERPRISE EDITION SUPPORTS 16-WAY CLUSTERING

It's still way in the future, but WolfPack will one day live up
to its promise. At the moment the functionality is fairly limited
but the Enterprise Edition of NT 5.0 will boost clustering support 
up to 16 nodes. This is called Phase 2 of its clustering program, 
and will ship after the NT 5.0 standard edition. 

Clustering is only useful when it can be managed easily, so many 
of the clustering features will be tied to Active Directory which 
is the focal point of 5.0. For example, AD will be used to do the
coordination for failover and load-balancing between server
resources in a cluster. This makes sense as AD provides a vehicle
for a scalable naming structure to identify cluster resources.

As known, current MS clustering technology is not fully developed
and they are still working on the software to coordinate the server 
clusters and hardware elements. Mark Hassall, product manager for 
NT at MS said: "We need to do a lot more work on the algorithm
that runs on the shared disk array, which determines whether the
other server is up or down. Some of the technology we acquired 
through our relationship with Digital [Equipment Corp] needs to be
enhanced".

Additional to clustering, MS is also adding support for SMP, for
example they are currently looking at having NT being able to run
on 32 processors. Some scalability problems need to be solved first
though. The next item goes into that particular problem.
----------------------------

3) TECH BRIEFING: WHAT'S SMP, AND THE DIFFERENCE WITH NUMA?

Lately the press is writing about this new architecture on the
horizon to squeeze more performance out of hardware. They call
it NUMA, but it is rare you get some explanations. So here is one
of our 'nutshell' updates so that you are up to date on the
latest buzzwords.

To understand NUMA (stands for Non-Uniform Memory Access architecture)
you need to know how traditional SMP multi-processor boxes work.
Oh and by the way, SMP stands for Symmetrical Multiprocessing.

SMP that we are now pretty much used to, has more CPU's in the
same box. They are usually plugged in the same motherboard. This gets
more power to run a single large application or multiple single
apps. The CPU's have a shared memory pool and communicate to each 
other and this memory via a transport mechanism that is called the 
interconnect bus. The drawback of this architecture is that when the 
number of CPU's increases, so does the traffic on the bus and this 
becomes a bottleneck. This is one of NT's scalability problems.

I have created a little graphic to illustrate how this works, it
sits here: http://www.sunbelt-software.com/smpnuma.gif

NUMA, just like SMP, allows you to use the combined power of CPU's
with each CPU accessing a common memory pool. But to prevent the
above bottleneck, the processors are grouped together in small units
called 'nodes'. Each node has a shared cache and memory pool. These 
nodes are interconnected and the CPU's can also access the memory 
pools on the other nodes.

On the little illustration I created we have a 12-CPU box with three
nodes of each 4 CPU's. As you can see each node has its own cache and
memory pool. NUMA, however reduces the bus congestion significantly
because much of the communication occurs within the nodes via their
separate, smaller buses. You now understand that this allows NUMA to 
scale much higher. For most SMP boxes it gets increasingly hard to
get more performance over 8 CPU's. But NUMA will allow up to 256 
CPU's in a single box and some believe even double that.

And why is this called Non-Uniform Memory Access? Because a CPU in one
node can get access to memory of another node, but the further away 
that node is, the more time it takes to get the data. So memory access 
is no longer always a uniform amount of time. The Operating System 
needs to be aware of this and it changes some important architectural 
points.

If your SMP box maxes out, you can migrate to a NUMA system. Some
examples of current vendors are Sequent Computer Systems, Data General
and Sillicon Graphics. But the typical NUMA box runs on Unix. To get
this architecture accepted in a wider community, Win NT support is
crucial. Looks like a good candidate for NT 6.0 if you ask me...
----------------------------

4) NT BOOK OF THE MONTH:

Without doubt: Optimizing WIndows NT by Sean K. Daily, MCSE.
Published by http://www.idgbooks.com with ISBN 0-7645-3110-7.
Price US $49.99 and worth every penny of it. (no, I'm not
getting any kickbacks) You can get it at http://www.amazon.com
for 10 bucks less and the reader reviews give it a 5-star
rating. Check it out!

I have a copy and I'm currenty reading it. It's for intermediate
and advanced NT users and a great source of data for System Admins
and Network Administrators. It's written in a modular fashion so 
that you can skip around the chapters without reading the almost
1000 pages. Come to think of it, most of us computer people never
read books cover to cover, especially manuals ;-)

It's divided in three sections:
1) Getting started with NT optimization
2) Tuning the NT Subsytems
3) Optimizing your NT network.

Points that are discussed: Hardware configuration - Memory and
processing - Proxy server - Networked subsystems - Disk optimization
- Printing - Scripting - The Registry - NT Server - IIS and more.
It's a "Stu's Warmly Recommended"!
----------------------------

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4) "THE NT STOCK WATCH" Weekend June 13, 1998.

52 WK 52 WK P/E WEEK
SECURITY CLOSE HIGH LOW RATIO CHNG
---------------------------------------------------------------------
BMC Software Inc......... 47 1/8 51 1/2 25 1/8 62 -7.0%
Citrix Systems Inc....... 55 1/2 65 1/8 23 3/8 71 +2.0%
Compaq Computer Corp..... 28 1/8 39 3/4 19 5/8 30 -0.4%
Data General Corp........ 15 1/4 37 15/16 13 3/8 23 -2.0%
Dell Computer Corp....... 82 7/8 98 1/2 26 3/4 57 -1.9%
Digital Eqpmt. Corp...... 62 5/8 34 3/16 17 -100.0%
Hewlett Packard Company.. 60 3/4 82 3/8 52 1/2 21 -3.4%
IBM...................... 116 1/4 129 5/16 87 5/8 20 -2.2%
Intergraph Corporation... 9 3/8 14 3/16 6 15/16 85 -1.9%
Microsoft Corporation.... 85 3/4 99 1/8 59 54 -0.5%
Ncr Corporation.......... 33 9/16 38 1/2 25 5/8 -0.5%
Networks Associates Inc.. 40 15/16 52 3/8 27 3/8 -4.3%
Novell Inc............... 12 12 5/8 6 17/64 +7.8%
Oracle Corporation....... 25 1/16 42 1/8 17 3/4 33 -3.3%
Qualcomm Inc............. 49 71 15/16 43 1/4 28 -5.5%
Qualix Group Inc......... 2 9/16 8 1/4 2 1/8 -6.8%
Seagate Technologies Inc. 20 9/16 45 3/4 17 3/4 -3.2%
Silicon Graphics Inc..... 11 5/8 30 5/16 10 15/16 -1.0%
Sun Microsystems Inc..... 42 7/16 53 5/16 30 3/8 23 -5.9%
Sybase Inc............... 6 1/2 23 5/8 6 1/8 -8.7%
Symantec Corporation..... 24 32 5/8 17 7/8 17 -5.4%
Unisys Corporation....... 23 7/8 26 3/4 6 5/8 -2.3%
Dow Jones 30 Industrials. 8,834.94 -2.2%
----------------------------

That's all for this issue folks!

Warm regards,

Stu Sjouwerman



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