Systems Performance 2nd Ed.

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USENIX SREcon APAC 2022: Computing Performance: What's on the Horizon

01 Mar 2023

At USENIX SREcon22 APAC I gave the opening keynote on the future of computer performance, rounding up the latest developments and making predictions of where I see things heading. This talk originated from my updates to Systems Performance 2nd Edition, and this was the first time I've given this talk in person!

The video is now on YouTube:

The slides are online and as a PDF:

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In Q&A I was asked about CXL (compute express link) which was fortunate as I had planned to cover it and then forgot, so the question let me talk about it (although Q&A is missing from the video). CXL in a way allows a custom memory controller to be added to a system, to increase memory capacity, bandwidth, and overall performance. My personal opinion is that I don't see a widespread need for more capacity given horizontal scaling and servers that can already exceed 1 Tbyte of DRAM; bandwidth is also helpful, but I'd be concerned about the increased latency for adding a hop to more memory. So it's interesting, but I don't think they have the killer use case for it yet.

Realizing and exceeding a lifelong dream

I began my tech career as a junior Unix sysadmin in Newcastle, NSW, Australia, in 1999, with no connection to the exciting world of tech in Silicon Valley, New York, or even nearby Sydney. As I was determined to become great at my new occupation regardless of my location, I read every sysadmin book, article, and magazine I could find on the shelf. This included SysAdmin magazine, which contained articles from various experts including Amy Rich, and a couple of advertisements: One was to submit your own articles to the magazine for publication (by writing to the editor, Rikki Endsley) and another was to attend USENIX conferences in the US and learn directly from the experts! I made both of these my goals, even though I'd never been published before and I'd never been to the US. Or even on a plane.

I didn't end up getting published in SysAdmin directly, but my performance work did make it as a feature article (thanks Matty). As for attending USENIX conferences: I finally started attending and speaking at them in 2010 when a community manager encouraged me to (thanks Deirdre Straughan), and since then I've met many friends and connections, including Amy who is now USENIX President, and Rikki with whom I co-chaired the USENIX LISA18 conference. USENIX has been a great help to my career and my employers, and I hope it is just as helpful for you. It's an important vendor-neutral space to share the latest in technology.

And now, helping bring USENIX conferences to Australia by giving the first keynote: I could not have scripted or expected it. It was a great privilege.

SREcon 2023 CFP

Tech moves fast, however, and I have little time to reflect on 2022 when there's 2023 to plan! I'm now program co-chair for SREcon 2023 APAC, and our 2023 conference is June 14-16 in Singapore. The call for participation ends on March 2nd 23:59 SGT! That's about 24 hours from now!


I've reproduced the references from my SREcon22 keynote below, so you can click on links:

I've taken care to cite the author names along with the talk titles and dates, including for Internet sources, instead of the common practice of just listing URLs. I followed that practice when writing some earlier books, and it has since struck me as unfair that some references had author names and some didn't. Nowadays I always include full names when known.

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