Linux and the Alpha
The Alpha architecture is designed for performance and its implementations do indeed make for very fast systems. Since its chips run at very high clock frequencies, the Alpha usually benefits the most from simple techniques that improve the memory-system behavior of a given program or algorithm. A few of these techniques have been demonstrated in this article and shown to achieve performance improvements anywhere in the range of 10% to 1700%. Fortunately, the same techniques also seem to benefit the other CPU architectures. This is good news since it means that usually one optimized implementation will perform well across a broad range of CPUs.
The biggest hurdle to developing high-performance applications under Linux is the current lack of sophisticated performance analysis tools. The relative lack of such tools is not surprising; while most commercial Unix vendors have tools for their own architecture, few, if any, are multi-platform. To some degree this is inherent in the problem, but there is no question it would not be very difficult to create even better portable performance-analysis tools.
Linux is what makes low-cost Alpha-based Unix workstations a reality. While Digital UNIX currently comes with better compilers, runtime libraries and more tools for the Alpha, the price difference is such that one can easily make up for the performance difference by spending a little more money on a faster machine. Also, development of gcc and better libraries doesn't stand still. However, since most work is done on a voluntary basis, it does take some time. Even so, Linux is already a highly competitive platform for integer-intensive applications. For floating-point intensive and especially FORTRAN applications, things are not yet so mature. Fortunately, if one cannot afford to wait for a better compiler, there is always the option of purchasing one of the commercial FORTRAN compilers available for Linux/Alpha.
The author would like to thank Richard Henderson of Texas A&M University and Erik Troan of Red Hat Software for reviewing this paper on short notice. Their feedback greatly improved its quality. Errors and omissions are the sole responsibility of the author. This article was first given as a speech at Linux Expo 97 on April 5.
Webinar: 8 Signs You’re Beyond Cron
11am CDT, April 29th
Join Linux Journal and Pat Cameron, Director of Automation Technology at HelpSystems, as they discuss the eight primary advantages of moving beyond cron job scheduling. In this webinar, you’ll learn about integrating cron with an enterprise scheduler.Join us!
|Play for Me, Jarvis||Apr 16, 2015|
|Drupageddon: SQL Injection, Database Abstraction and Hundreds of Thousands of Web Sites||Apr 15, 2015|
|Non-Linux FOSS: .NET?||Apr 13, 2015|
|Designing Foils with XFLR5||Apr 08, 2015|
|diff -u: What's New in Kernel Development||Apr 07, 2015|
- Drupageddon: SQL Injection, Database Abstraction and Hundreds of Thousands of Web Sites
- Play for Me, Jarvis
- Non-Linux FOSS: .NET?
- Designing Foils with XFLR5
- Not So Dynamic Updates
- Flexible Access Control with Squid Proxy
- New Products
- Users, Permissions and Multitenant Sites
- diff -u: What's New in Kernel Development