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HPUX Kernel Tuning Guide

HPUX Kernel Tuning Guide



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Published by: Gridmark on Mar 09, 2007
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HP−UX Kernel Tuning GuideforTechnical ComputingGetting The Best PerformanceOn Your Hewlett−Packard HP 9000 SystemsVersion 2.0
This document describes the underlying basics of why and how a HP−UX kernel is tuned and configured. Theintent is to provide customers, developers, application designers, and HP's technical consultants theinformation necessary to optimize the performance of existing hardware configurations and to makeintelligent decisions when running applications on HP's UNIX platforms.
Hardware Considerations
HP, and other hardware vendors, offer a broad selection of products with a wide range of CPU performance,memory and disk options, varying greatly in price. Obviously, performance of a software application will beaffected by the hardware selected to run it on. The reason so many different products are available, is to allowthe customer to select the most cost effective solution for their particular software problem. A large, heavilyconfigured system may not be utilized to its full potential if you only need to solve small, simple problemswhile a less capable system may be overloaded trying to solve large, complex problems that exceed itscapacity. Under these circumstances, neither system would be cost effective when utilized in this manner.Selecting the most cost effective system requires understanding your compute requirements as well as thehardware options.There five key hardware areas that directly affect the performance you will obtain from your application:CPU, Memory, Disk, Graphics, and Network. While all these hardware areas are important, it is equallyimportant to configure a balanced system. It is counter productive to buy the fastest CPU and then configure itwith insufficient memory. You might get better performance and throughput with a slower, less expensive,CPU with the difference in price invested in more memory.There are a large number of variables to consider when deciding on the hardware for your computeinfrastructure. The compute needs may vary from the very simple to the incredibly complex.The best way to select the appropriate hardware configurations is to resolve your compute needs:How many users need to be served?
What are the data server needs ?
What are the compute server needs ?
What are the application software needs?
HP Global Technical Partner − CadenceGetting The Best Performance On Your Hewlett−Packard HP 9000 Systems Version 2.01
There should be couple of different system configurations to fully cover your environment. Maybe 1, 2 or 3base system configurations will properly handle your desktop computing needs: one hardware configurationfor one type of user, a slightly different configuration for another and yet another configuration for the userrwho has major memory and swap requirements for her/his system. There may be a need for managing bothsmall and large batch tasks under a compute server or task queuing methodology. A data server will be neededfor storing the large amounts of data with a reliable backup system and revision control system. Add to thiscollection a software server dedicated to manage large software applications and licensing programs. The bestway to select your appropriate hardware configuration(s) is to perform benchmark tests that duplicate yourintended use of the system. With relevant benchmark data in hand, you will have the information you need tomake intelligent tradeoff decisions on the cost/performance benefits of the available hardware options for yoursite.
Many operations require a large number of integer and floating point calculations. A few applications will useinteger calculations, but others might rely heavily on floating point calculations. CPU performance is thesingle most important performance factor for executing a large number of calculations in the shortest possibletime. Selecting the CPU is a tradeoff between cost, the size of the problems you will be solving, and yourperception of adequate performance. If an operation takes five seconds, is it worth it to you to spend an extra$10,000 to do the operation in three seconds? However, if the operation takes five hours and the time can bereduced to one or three hours, it may be worth the added expense. If the operation is done several times a dayit is almost certainly worth it. If it is only done once a month then it may be questionable. When evaluatinghardware performance, you must prioritize the tasks to be performed relative to their importance, frequency,and impact on overall productivity.Tasks that are most affected by CPU performance are those that involve more computation than disk access orgraphics display. Don't forget to consider investment protection. The CPU that seems adequate today may notmeet your needs in the near future. The rapid pace of hardware development makes existing systems obsoletein a very short period of time. How easy will it be for you to upgrade your systems to increase MIP's capacityor take advantage of the latest compiler or hardware technology?One standard benchmark that you can use to gauge CPU performance is SPECint.
One of the most commonly asked questions is "How much memory do I need?". Unfortunately, the realanswers to this question are "Enough" and "It depends". The amount of memory you need is directly related tothe size of the applications you are working with. While 'X' amount of memory may allow you to run yourapplication, it may not be largeenough to allow for optimal performance. Memory management is a complex topic. Memory, its relationshipto swap space, and its effect on performance are discussed in more detail in the section "UnderstandingMemory and Swap" later in this document. Again, cost must be weighed versus benefits; certainly you canspend the money to configure a system with enough memory to allow your application to be run in memory,but depending on the application, the cycle time savings may not be worth it.
Sometimes data can be quite large. Disk I/O is often a performance bottleneck. Other than the obvious effectson data loading bandwidth, disk I/O can also be the limiting factor in overall performance if a system startspaging.
HP Global Technical Partner − CadenceHardware Considerations2
HP's philosophy is to design balanced systems in which no single component becomes a performancebottleneck. HP has made significant enhancements to I/O performance in order to keep pace with the speed of our CPUs. I/O performance depends on several parts of the system working together efficiently. The I/Osubsystems have been redesigned so that they now offer the industry's fastest and most functional I/O asstandard equipment.To improve disk I/O performance:
 Distribute the work load across multiple disks.
Disk I/O performance can be improved by splitting the work load. In many configurations, a single drive must handle operating system access, swap, and data file accesssimultaneously. If these different tasks can be distributed across multiple disks then the job can be shared,providing subsequent performance improvements. For example, a system might be configured with fourlogical volumes, spread accross more than one physical volume. The HP−UX operating system could exist onone volume, the application on a second volume, swap space interleaved across all local disk drives and datafiles on a fourth volume.
Split swap space across two or more disk volumes.
Device swap space can be distributed across disk volumesand interleaved. This will improve performance if your system starts paging. This is discussed in more detailin the section on Swap Space Configuration later in this document.
 Enable Asynchronous I/O
− By default, HP−UX uses synchronous disk I/O, when writing file system "metastructures" (super block, directory blocks, inodes, etc.) to disk. This means that any file system activity of thistype must complete to the disk before the program is allowed to continue; the process does not regain controluntil completion of the physical I/O. When HP−UX writes to disk asynchronously, I/O is scheduled at somelater time and the process regains control immediately, without waiting.Synchronous writes of the meta structures ensure file system integrity in case of system crash, but this kind of disk writing also impedes system performance. Run−time performance increases significantly (up to roughlyten percent) on I/O intensive applications when all disk writes occur asynchronously; little effect is seen forcompute−bound processes. Benchmarks have shown that load times for large files can be improved by asmuch as 20% using asynchronous I/O. However, if a system using asynchronous disk writes of metastructures crashes, recovery might require system administrator intervention using fsck and, might also causedata loss. You must determine whether the improved performance is worth the slight risk of data loss in theevent of a system crash. A UPS device, used in a power failure event will help reduce the risk of lost data.Asynchronous writing of the file system meta structures is enabled by setting the value of the kernelparameter fs_async to 1 and disabled by setting it to 0, the default. For instructions on how to configure kernelparameters, see the section Kernel Configuration Parameters later in this document.You may want to use a RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) configuration for reliability. MostRAID configurations do not perform as well as non−RAID configurations, but the reliability gains may beworth it.
Graphics and Color Mapping
Many tools use 2−D graphics, and are X11 based. Thus, a platform's X11 performance is key to maximizingthe graphics performance of these applications. This can be measured with the standard benchmark xmark93.
HP Global Technical Partner − CadenceDisk3

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