Design: How good SOA can help you dealing with multi-cores

Unless you have been living under a rock for the last 5 years you should know about the multi-core architecture that the new processors bring to our world. Well, processors hardly can go any faster with the current technology therefore we need to start to have parallel thoughts...

Well, you are about to design a solution and you are facing the challenge “How I can take the most of the multi-core processor that my server has” Sometimes is not easy to take advantage of this extra horse due the lack of parallel design skills, I have seen many attempts to achieve this with more headaches than solutions.

After working on several projects where we were trying to improve the performance of certain components I came across multiple solutions but there is one tendency to solve this problem that comes within the SOA shadow. Thinking about services can help you to divide the pieces of functionality that can be parallelized; this will provide a natural processor optimization with the incorporation of different processes to get the maximum output from the multi-core environment.

I have seen many times a SOA model that includes a service multi layer derived from an ontology model, where the hierarchy drives to the conclusion that some services must be componentized within a single service to reduce complexity. The problem of this merge is that sometimes the developers fail to divide the components (adding dependencies) or they limit the multi threading capabilities of the hardware layer.


In the figure above we can see the service hierarchy that encapsulates service C1 and C2, when they are implemented in a single process the services needs to properly handle the threading model and the communication model, using memory synchronization patterns. This adds locking and latency problems that reduce the performance and scalability when the service is scaled in.


If we decide to divide our services in different process and use the common contract as communication layer we can solve the problem reducing complexity and isolating the threads. This helps you to reduce the component coupling and scales in better and cheaper. There is no need for synchronizating shared resources as the process isolation will dela with the individual heaps.


What is more, the model can have processor affinity to control the load on the hardware, this can became more common in a 4x4 architecture where 16 processors can give you not only the service isolation, also the hardware. As software architects need to deal with teams without the proper parallelism skills, this type of approach can help you reducing project risk and delivers a proper set of services to the business processes that allows you more flexibility if a new process needs the C1 service directly.

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