64 bit servers have different performance characteristics and tend to be
used for different things. than PC systems. They are generally
backplanes to which are attached some number of processors and some
amount of memory, and a lot of IO. They aren't used as much for
processor speed (you could get a bunch of PCs to do that) as they are
for doing a lot of IO. Even a small server like the old Sun e450's (4
processors) had something like 6 or 8 PCI busses on them. Larger systems
could be configured with a large number of IO cards for those computers
that just need a few gigabit per second of network IO and a ton of disk
space (multiple disk controllers, or FC controllers all going full speed).
You would use the memory to store temp information as a query would run
and you rely on the systems fast access to the disks to scan through the
tables. You would generally attach anywhere from a few hundred gigs of
disk (spread out over many smaller disks) up to many terabytes (it's
been a while since I've done large system admin work, so I have no idea
what the largest systems are doing, but imagine 72" cabinets full of 72
GB or larger disks). This way instead of getting speed from caching the
data you get speed by reading the data off the disks quickly.
64 bit workstations had an advantage over PC systems most of the time in
that the memory bus was not the bottleneck it can be on the PC avoiding
delays due to cache misses, which made them great for visualization
workstations where the system had to scan through a lot of memory
quickly to generate an image or process scientific data.
There's a lot of other things going back to the fact that Digital, HP
Sun and IBM have always had a head start on superscalar and multi-core
CPU designs, so comparing Mz was never even close between two
processors. On the other hand many people never saw that advantage
because they would compile with gcc which was never the best choice for
pure speed on a given processor.
If you need a 64 bit processor for memory and file size concerns and can
sacrifice some of the processing speed (which often goes away because of
the faster IO) there's always been a good used market, in particular for
Sun equipment. I've seen some dirt cheap prices on fully loaded Sun E450
systems which are very nice for their size. I think they hold 20 disks
internally and there's PCI slots for a lot more if you need large files.
On the other hand I think "need 64 bit" and "affordable" are rare
Mike Wexler wrote:
> Not necessarily. People that need relatively affordable 64 bit systems
> may be waiting for the Opteron to stabilize. My experience is the
> Wintel solutions (like Opteron) tend to have at least a 2-1 price
> performance over Sun and Dec. Also, given that HP has basically
> dropped Alpha, I don't think a lot of people are likely to be
> implementing that platform.
> Dan Nelson wrote:
>> In the last episode (Jun 24), David Griffiths said:
>>> I'm surprised there is not more interest in this; is it that not many
>>> work with large-ish (10+ gig) databases that need high-end
>> I think we have a mysql database running on Tru64, and I'm sure it runs
>> great on Solaris. My guess is the people that needed over 2gb of RAM
>> have switched to 64-bit CPUs long ago.
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