System News
"System Performance Tuning"
By Gian-Paolo C. Musumeci and Mike Loukides
February 25, 2002,
Volume 48, Issue 4

O'Reilly has released a new edition of "System Performance Tuning" by Gian-Paolo Musumeci and Mike Loukides. The authors contend that tackling system performance actually depends on an understanding of two distinct areas: "the art of increasing performance for a specific application set, also known as `squeezing blood from a stone'" and capacity planning, or "deciding what hardware to purchase to fulfill a given role, also known as `fortune telling.'" This completely updated new book shows system administrators how to make the best use of existing systems while minimizing the purchase of new equipment.

"The desire to go faster appears to be integral to human nature," says Musumeci. "In light of the present economic contraction, there's a need to go faster while spending less, making sure that we extract the most out of what we have...."

"There's a particular need for this book right now," adds Loukides. "Even though computers have gotten much, much faster in the past decade, it's a mistake to think that performance isn't a problem. CPU speeds are faster by a factor of fifty of more, but memory speeds and disk speeds haven't increased by the same amount. So, while we have incredibly fast CPUs, they tend to spend most of their time waiting for data rather than doing productive work. This was a problem when I wrote the first edition and it's only gotten worse."

The book takes an holistic approach to system performance. The authors suggest that system performance tuning is very much about the underlying hardware and how it is abstracted. Truly understanding the behavior of the system, they claim, involves a detailed knowledge of the inner workings of the machine. The book focuses on the SolarisTM Operating Environment (Solaris OE) and the Linux system, with expanded coverage of the I/O and networking subsystems and new material covering disk arrays, microprocessors, and code tuning. Other topics include workflow characterization and management, benchmarks, CPU architecture and performance and optimizing use of memory.

Chapter 4, "Memory," is available free online at:

For more information about the book, including Table of Contents, index, author bios and samples, see:

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