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November 2002

Cooper outlines performance at HP World

HP World talk details 7.5 and 8700-related improvements

By John Burke

In what will probably be the last such talk given by anyone from HP, Kevin Cooper spoke to about 50 people at HP World 2002 about new HP 3000 systems and new operating system features.

The title, “MPE/iX 7.5 and HP e3000 PA-8700 Performance Upgrade Updates,” was quite a mouthful, but Cooper lived up to it by giving us an information-packed 50 minutes, ultimately leaving no time for questions. Cooper’s talk covered five areas: New HP e3000 PA-8700 systems; recommended upgrade paths; Memory Rules of Thumb; new features of MPE/iX 7.5; and MPE/iX 6.5 and 7.0 performance patches.

At HP World HP announced the final new HP e3000 systems, all based upon the PA-8700 processors. At the high end, HP announced a new N-Class system based upon the 750 MHz PA-8700 processor. The new N4000-400-750 is the first HP e3000 to achieve an MPE/iX Relative Performance Units (MRPU) rating of 100; the Series 918 has an MRPU of 1.

HP contends that the MRPU is the only valid way to measure the relative performance of MPE systems. In particular, they maintain that the MHz rating is not a valid measure of relative performance, though they continue to use virtual MHz numbers for systems with software-crippled processors. For example, there are no 380 MHz or 500 MHz PA-RISC processors. Unfortunately, the MRPU does not allow for the comparison of the HP e3000 with other systems, even the HP 9000.

HP has changed the way it rates systems three times over the life of the HP 3000. During the middle years, the Series 918 was the standard with a rating of 1. In 1998, HP devised a new measurement standard for the systems it was introducing that no longer had the Series 918 at 1. It is under this new system that the N4000-400-750 is rated at 100. Applying a correction factor, Wirt Atmar of AICS Research has rated the N4000-400-750 at 76.8 relative to the Series 918’s rating of 1. Whichever standard you accept, it is, however, clear that this new high-end HP 3000 is one hot box.

The rating of the top of the HP 3000 N-Class line puts it 35 percent higher than the previous high-end N4000-400-550 and nearly double the 12 processor Series 997/1200. [The CPU time to sort a 800Mb file (10 million 80-byte records) was 13 minutes on a 997/1200, 4 minutes on an N4000-550 and just a tick over 3 minutes for the new N4000-750.]

In the mid-range, HP announced new N-Class systems with “effective clock speeds of 380- and 500-MHz.” Interex board member Denys Beauchemin has noted in a posting to the 3000-L mailing list and newsgroup that “The N-Class 440, 550 and 750 run at their rated clock speeds under MPE. The A-Class boxes are all shamelessly and deeply crippled, as are the 220, 330 and 500 N-Classes, but to a lesser degree.”

There is considerable controversy in the field about the A-Class servers in particular, with many people claiming these low-end boxes have been so severely crippled (when compared to their non-crippled HP-UX brothers) as to make them useless for any but the smallest shops. Even if you accept HP’s performance rating (and many people question its accuracy), the A400-100-110 is barely faster then the 10-year-old 928 that had become the de-facto low-end system.

I see these new A-Class systems as a tacit agreement by HP that it goofed with the initial systems. I feel compelled to point out that an un-crippled A400-100-110 would be twice as fast by HP’s own reckoning as the “double the performance” A400-100-150 that is replacing it on the price list.

The N4000-100-380 delivers 15 MRPU with a single processor and 27 MRPU with the optional second processor. The N4000-100-500 delivers from 20 to 65 MRPU, depending upon the number of processors (the system can be configured with 1, 2, 3 or 4 processors).

At the low-end, HP announced new A-Class systems with double the performance (measured in MRPU) of the previous low-end A-Class systems for the same price. The A400-100-150 is rated at 4.8 MRPU, more than double the previous A400 (2.2 MRPU). The A500-100-200 is rated at 6.4 MRPU, double the previous A500 (3.2 MRPU). Add a second processor to the A500 and you get 11 MRPU, more then double the rating of the previous two-processor A500 (5.4 MRPU).

As with earlier A- and N-Class systems, HP will convert them to HP 9000s should you wish to downgrade. Of course, it should be noted that if you have one of the software-crippled A- and N-Class systems, converting them to HP 9000s actually gives you back all the CPU horsepower built into the processors — speed which HP prevents you from using if running MPE.

Cooper next presented seven slides showing recommended upgrade paths to the new A- and N-Class servers. At the high-end, the N4000-400-750 is the recommended upgrade for owners of the N4000-400-550, the N4000-400-440 and the Series 997/1200 systems. In the mid-range, the N4000-100-500 is the recommended upgrade from the N4000-100-330, the Series 989/150, the Series 997/200 and the Series 969/220 systems. At the low-end, the A400-100-150 is the recommended upgrade from the A400-100-110, from the Series 967 or 968 and from smaller 9x7 and 9x8 systems. Cooper’s complete slide set is available on jazz.external.hp.com or directly at jazz.external.hp.com/papers/HPWorld_02/MPE7.5-enhancements.htm.

One question that has always plagued System Managers is “How much memory do I need?” Bill Lancaster was famous for replying to this question with “How much can you afford?” All kidding aside, that was often the correct answer. With the new PA-8700-based systems, HP is now supplying some minimum configuration Rules of Thumb and some guidelines on when you might need more then the minimum recommendation (see sidebar).
PA-8700 System Memory Recommended Minimums

1.5-2 Gb per processor for N4000 750 MHz systems
1 Gb per processor for N4000 380 or 500 MHz systems
512 Mb per processor for the new A500 system
256 Mb for the new A400 system

Guidelines for when to add more memory:
For memory-intensive applications such as 4GLs
For heavy batch processing loads
For high numbers of active online users
When adding processors

Prior to HP World 2002, HP announced and even started distribution of what it said would be the last platform release of MPE, MPE/iX 7.5. As part of his presentation, Cooper went over all the new features of MPE/iX 7.5. Much of this, such as Fibre Channel support, LDEV 1 greater than 4Gb, and increased limits were already reported in the September issue of The 3000 NewsWire, but Cooper added several performance-related comments.

TurboIMAGE now supports Large File datasets. This means a single Large File (up to 128Gb) can now be used instead of a Jumbo dataset comprised of multiple chunks. Advantages of Large File datasets are support for DDX (not supported on Jumbos) and avoidance of the POSIX-style names used for Jumbo dataset chunks (i.e., an all MPE-filespace solution).

However, HP believes that Jumbos may perform better during XM checkpoints in big OLTP environments. As part of the TurboIMAGE Scalability II project, a new feature, Enhanced High Water Mark (EHWM) was also introduced in the version of TurboIMAGE shipping with MPE/iX 7.5. HP believes this will provide improved concurrency for DBPUT and DBDELETE transactions on busy OLTP systems. It can provide even greater scalability than the existing DSEM and Prefetch options.

By default, EHWM is disabled for a database. As with most every TurboIMAGE switch, it is enabled with DBUTIL. Cooper said the best performance improvements have been seen on systems with six or more processors. MPE/iX 7.5 contains code modifications that improve performance when a process has more than 512 files and/or sockets open. Finally, if you are used to monitoring PIN 11 for XM checkpoint processing performance, this process is now PIN 17 on MPE/iX 7.5.

Finally, Cooper talked about several performance-related patches for large memory systems. MPELXH8 (Memory Manager) and MPELXH3 (TurboSTORE) were both introduced in 2001 for MPE/iX 6.5 and MPE/iX 7.0, respectively. Both are included in the MPE/iX 7.5 mainline release; however, neither appears in any PowerPatch for MPE/iX 6.5 or MPE/iX 7.0. If you have a large memory system on MPE/iX 6.5 or MPE/iX 7.0, you should consider applying these patches if you have not already done so. Both patches have been superceded, so it is best to contact the Response Center to find out the current patch ID.

John Burke is the founder of Burke Consulting and Technology Solutions (www.burke-consulting.com), which specializes in system management, consulting and outsourcing. John has over 25 years experience in systems, operations and development, is co-chair of SIGMPE, and has been writing regularly about HP e3000 issues for over 10 years. You can reach him at john@burke-consulting.com.

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