Wandering Thoughts archives


The future of OmniOS here if we can't get 10G-T working on it

When I wrote about our long road to getting 10G in production on OmniOS after our problems with it, I mentioned in an aside that the pessimistic version of when we might get our new fileserver environment back to 10G was 'never' and that that would have depressing consequences. Today I've decided to talk about them.

From the start, one of my concerns with Illumos has been hardware support. A failure to get our OmniOS fileservers back to 10G-T would almost certainly be a failure of hardware support, where either the ixgbe driver didn't get updated or the update didn't work well enough. It would also be specifically a failure to support 10G. Both have significant impacts on the future.

We can, I think, survive this generation of fileservers without 10G, although it will hurt (partly because it makes 10G much less useful in other parts of our infrastructure and partly because we spent a bunch of money on 10G hardware). I don't think we can survive the next generation without 10G; in four years 10G-T will likely be much more pervasive and I'm certainly hoping that big SSDs will be cheap enough that they'll become our primary storage. SSDs over 1G networking is, well, not really all that attractive; once you have SSD data rates, you really want better than 1G.

That basically means the next generation of fileservers could not be OmniOS (maybe unless we do something really crazy); we would have to move to something we felt would give us 10G and the good hardware support we hadn't gotten from Illumos. The possibility of going to a non-Illumos system in four years obviously drains off some amount of interest in investing lots of time in OmniOS now, because there would be relatively little long term payoff from that time. The more we think OmniOS is not going to be used in the next generation, the more we'd switch to running OmniOS purely in maintenance mode.

To some extent all of this kicks into play even if we can move OmniOS back to 10G but just not very fast. If it takes a year or two for OmniOS to get an ixgbe update, sure, it's nice to be running 10G-T for the remainder of the production lifetime of these fileservers, but it's not a good omen for the next generation because we'd certainly like more timely hardware support than that.

(And on bad omens for general hardware support, well, our version of OmnioOS doesn't even seem to support the 1G Broadcom ports on our Dell R210 servers.)

Sidebar: I'm not sure if Illumos needs more development in general

I was going to say that lagging hardware support could also be a bad omen for the pace of Illumos development in general, but I'm actually not sure if Illumos actually needs general development (from our perspective). Right now I'm assuming that the great 'ZFS block pointer rewrite' feature will never happen, and I'm honestly not sure if there's much other improvements we'd really care very much about. DTrace, the NFS server, and the iSCSI initiator do seem to work fine, I no longer expect ZFS to get any sort of API, and I don't think ZFS is missing any features that we care about very much (and we haven't particularly tripped over any bugs).

(ZFS is also the most likely thing to get further development attention and bugfixes, because it's currently one of the few big killer features of Illumos for many people.)

solaris/OmniOSNo10GFuture written at 23:44:57; Add Comment

Why Go's big virtual size for 64-bit programs makes sense

In reaction to my entry on why your 64-bit Go programs are going to have a huge virtual size, sgoody on Hacker News asked why Go does this. There are two answers, depending on what 'this' you're talking about.

The reason that Go allocates all of this virtual memory address space is that it keeps other code from accidentally occupying some of it. This might be C runtime libraries that Go code winds up using or it might be Go code (yours or from packages) that calls mmap() directly or indirectly, and someday it will also be because of dynamically loaded Go code. If the Go runtime didn't explicitly fence off the address range it wanted to use, it could at least have the amount of memory it can allocate reduced by other people camping on bits of it. This is essentially standard practice; if you're going to want some chunk of address space later, you might as well fence it off now.

The reason to use this scheme for low level memory allocation is likely because it's simple, and simple is generally fast for memory allocators. Being fast is good here not just for the obvious reason, but also because this is a central low-level allocator and Go is a concurrent environment. You're probably going to have to take locks to use a central allocator, so the shorter the locks are held for the better. A fast central allocator is one that's unlikely to become a bottleneck and point of locking contention.

There are a number of reasons for Go not to just call the C runtime's malloc() to get memory (either at a low level or at a high one). Malloc is a very general allocator and as a result it may do all sorts of things that you don't need and don't want. It's also probably going to perform worse than a tuned custom allocator; in fact having your own allocator is extremely common in language runtimes, even for things like Python. Using it also means that you depend on the C runtime library, which is a problem when cross-compiling Go programs.

(Current versions of Go are also trying to do as much in Go code as possible instead of in C, partly because it makes the life of the garbage collector simpler.)

programming/GoBigVirtualSizeWhy written at 00:38:35; Add Comment

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