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Librenix: A look at the IBM mainframe as a massive Linux instance server

Sep 04, 2001, 15:30 (24 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Ray)
"I've written on this topic before but I keep running into the same misconception: that the IBM mainframe is a cost-effective platform for Linux because over 40,000 instances of Linux have been shown to run concurrently on a modern mainframe.

That demonstration was effectively a gimmick. No, I don't believe it was intended as a gimmick; only that it was widely misconstrued and, therefore, became indistinguishable from a gimmick in the media circus that resulted. It was depicted by the media as a practical demonstration that one could replace 40,000 PC's running Linux with a single mainframe. Alas, that was surely not the point of the demonstration.

Don't confuse a large number of 'logical' machines with physical ones. If a Pentium III had the ability in hardware to subdivide itself into thousands of functionally identical logical processors you would be able to run thousands of Linux instances on that one CPU. You probably see the problem that you would immediately encounter: each Linux instance would have only a tiny fraction of a percent of the PIII's processing power. Yes, you'll have thousands of distinct running instances of Linux, but they will be very slow when several of them try to do something cpu-intensive at the same time."

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