64 bit Software Experiences...

As we stated above, we didn't use the latest and greatest version of MySQL, but rather, we used the version that came with the SUSE SLES8 to avoid software issues. The wisdom of this decision was quickly illustrated when we tried to install DB2 8.1.2 64 bit on our 64 bit SLES 8.

To make db administration easy, IBM provides a control center, which is a very powerful tool that gives a good overview of all tables and instances. This tool runs on top of Java. We noticed that DB2cc was completely unstable with SUN's java, so we had to un-install it and install IBM's version. This might not been new to many DB2 users out there, but for us, it was a disappointment that there are incompatibilities between different JVM. After all, it was the ease of porting applications that made Java so popular.

And installing IBM java wasn't so easy. But finally after adapting profiles, paths and making several softlinks, we made it work.

The next problem was that Java 64 bit wasn't stable yet, so we had to create a 32 bit instance on top of our 64 bit database. Even then, we received cryptic messages such as "CLI0622E Error accessing JDBC administration service extensions".

At last, we came to conclusion that 64 bit DB2 8.1.2 would never run on our system. Luckily by that time, DB2 8.1.3 was out, which fixed quite a few of the problems mentioned above.

This experience shows that moving to 64 bit software is as easy as many reports might indicate. In fact, 32 bit software on a 64 bit operating system will never be 100% free of incompatibilities. System calls from a 32-bit application always need to be converted to 64-bit calls by a type of emulation layer.

As quoted by Andi Kleen:
"A system call from an 32bit application needs to be converted to 64bit. While this isn't that hard for the Unix/Linux system calls (Unix traditionally has a relatively clean and not too big interface between user and kernel space) there are lots of "backdoors" - ioctls - for various driver specific tasks. For these a 64bit kernel will likely never be 100% compatible because there are thousands of these. Of course the majority of applications don't use obscure driver ioctls, but some still do. So in short you have some risk of incompatibility when running 32bit binaries on 64bit kernels".
Don't get us wrong - it is probably 98% or so compatible. But before moving to a fully 64 bit system, you should test your 32 bit applications thoroughly on your favorite 64 bit OS.

On the bright side, we were amazed how easily Yast2 (SUSE install tool) recognized all our hardware on both Xeon and Opteron platforms. Yast2 is simply a wonderful tool that made software and hardware upgrades very easy. I used to have very different experiences with Linux and I remember vividly how I struggled to get some network cards and SCSI cards working.

The benchmark Words of thanks
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  • markwrob - Friday, February 4, 2005 - link

    Great article. One thing I'm looking for on
    this and similar comparisons is how the rigs
    or their components do on power consumption.

    Are there any places to find that out easily?
  • markwrob - Friday, February 4, 2005 - link

  • vaxinator - Monday, December 13, 2004 - link

    Very interesting review. I think you are wise to narrow your scope to basically in-memory queries, since this pretty much ensures you are testing just the CPU and memory. Disk I/O is another topic.

    I would be interested to know a few more details about the database (the data model) and the actual queries used.

    But the key element you need to watch for is ensuring your client box is not overloaded. I have seen lots of "performance reviews" where the client box was smaller than the device under test...wrong! It should be under-utilized and the cpu consumption/memory use etc should be reported as well. If necessary use lots of client boxes, but watch the network load.
  • rogerjlarsson - Monday, December 6, 2004 - link

    MySQL v. IBM DB2 Single v. Dual
    "MySQL doesn't seem to scale as well as DB2."

    Yea, right... It all depends on what level you start from!

    MySQL _Single_ Xeon Concurrency 50: 157
    DB2 _Dual_ Xeon Concurrency 50: 102

    MySQL scales a little to _Dual_ Conc. 50: 222

    DB2 is not even near!!! MySQL might be network
    limited rather than Memory or CPU...
  • davesbeer - Sunday, December 5, 2004 - link


    Oracle's ETL tool is $5k also comes with
    Forms Designer
    Reports Designer

    I've worked with some of the biggest financial institutions in the world including ABN Amro... etc...
    Oracle's DB also is less costly then MS.. Not thier EE version but then again MS has nothing to compete with that one..

    Also you mentioned MS tools are the best.. not likely.. they are the easiest to use but far from the best.. The worlds biggest datawarehouses, datamarts etc.. are not on MS and they don't use MS's tools... except for maybe MS's themselves...
  • jensend - Sunday, December 5, 2004 - link

    Comparing these systems in 32-bit mode with a 2.4-based distro makes very little sense. Among a lot of other reasons, the 2.4 scheduler is AFAIK rather poorly suited for use with combined SMT & SMP.
  • marcuri - Saturday, December 4, 2004 - link

    as #5 methods are far from being anywhere remotely 'mature' as the article states. Actually, after talking to people who run databases, its close to useless. The benchmarks used test cpu speed, not memory or memory management. Opterons are a better solution because they are 64 bit and thus handel the management of 4+gigs of memory much better (it starts in excess of 1gig that 64 helps out i believe). By using a data set of 1 gig the benchmarks are completely missing whats important, its niave at best.
  • Decoder - Saturday, December 4, 2004 - link


    I've worked with Oracle 8i, 9, IBM UDB v7, SQL Server 6.5,7, 2K and 2005. I also do J2EE, ETL (Informatica, Datastage, DTS), .NET etc. $ for $, MS SQL Server 2005 is a much better value.

    Have you ever built a data mart using MS SQL Server DTS? It's an ETL tool that comes with MS SQL server for free. Try building a data mart on Oracle and you will find yourself spending 100K US for an ETL tool. Also from a developers perspective, SQL Server tools are the best (Read up on SQL Profiler, Query Analyzer etc).

    .NET not scalable? Scalable compared to what? J2EE EJB's?? Please. Sure there's a limit to scalability on 32-bit boxes, but with x86-64 and 64bit OS's, that limit will go away.

    davesbeer: "SQL Server is for people who can't program real databases"

    Program databases? Please elaborate. You code to a database, design a database, write procs for a database but what does program databases mean?

    Also, tell that to the Finanical Services companies in New York.

    davesbeer: "SQL Server will be delayed again... (you can remember I said that) and the technology is already outdated."

    SQL Server 2005 will be extremely popular. Also SQL Server 2005 DTS (a complete rewrite) will penetrate the ETL market.

  • davesbeer - Saturday, December 4, 2004 - link


    I work with companies that have over 6000 processors actively running multiple databases in thier environments. MS just does'nt compete.. .Net is interesting but again you are stuck with M$ and scalabilty is just not there for real apps. Most financial industries run Sybase... its thier last bastion of full fledged support, I worked with 15 of the largest American Financial institutes, I know what I am taking about. I currently work with some of the largest IT departments in the world. Thousands of developers in a single company alone.. I know IT.
    Oracle, DB2 etc's 64 bit knowledge is far superior to M$ and will remain that way for a long time.. they'll been writing 64bit code for years. SQL Server will be delayed again... (you can remember I said that) and the technology is already outdated. SQL Server is for people who can't program real databases (can feel the flames now) sorry Anandtech but your databases are lightweight... once they grow up you will switch to Oracle or DB2 etc..
  • at80eighty - Saturday, December 4, 2004 - link

    First off: Welcome Johan : )

    next...im a frickin n00b, so pardon my ignorance : )

    my questions may not be entirely on topic, but i hope someone...ANYONE can help...

    im lookin to *build* an entry level server, so i've got the following doubts (based on the following factors) :

    Company: startup...less than a year old

    Expected # of initial users: 8 (2 people will be responsible for writing data, all employees will read db) requirements should go up to 15-20 people (2-4 write: all read) by year end (should business expand as planned)

    Server: Mail + DB + File server in one

    Cost: would be nice to keep things economical , but im willing to stretch for a middle ground : )

    1) What CPU is best bang for buck?
    2) OS will be Windows SBS Premium...was going for this since i gathered MS SQL is the best way to go (more so coz Anandtech uses SQL too :p )...after reading some of the comments im a little confused viz. DB2 v/s Oracle v/s MS SQL...plus Exchange looks kinda sweet too : )
    3) Should i wait for SQL 2005? What benefits if any (with reference to costs) ?
    4) Which is the best front-end in your opinion? i was looking to use Infopath as i found the GUI VERY easy to use and frankly the look is quite easy on the eyes too : p. Also, its important to note that I am *supposedly* the most computer literate in my company...so im looking to create a DB with an easy interface for my employees : p
    5) Is Crystal Reports easy to integrate into MS SQL (or any of the above for that matter)? OR im lookin for a back-end that can export data to Excel, so that i can analyse & crunch numbers
    6) Will i *need* an in-house IT guy to manage the DB? ...or even the server as a whole? (looking to keep costs to a minimum)

    i've got TONS of further queries (and i dont want to attention-whore on the thread :), so, should anyone have any spare time (and any inclination in the first place : ) to help a fellow AT'er, my mail add is: ucanmailme AT gmail DOT com

    Thanks in advance


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