Over the last couple of years, I’ve been getting more interested in Erlang as an high-scale services implementation language originally designed at Ericcson. Back in May of last year I posted: Erlang and High-Scale System Software.

The Erlang model of spawning many lightweight threads that communicate via message passing is typically less efficient than the more common shared memory and locks approach but the lightweight processes with message passing model but it is much easier to get a correct implementation using this model. Erlang also encourages a “fail fast” programming model. Years ago I became convinced that this design pattern is one of the best ways to get high scale systems software correct (Designing and Deploying Internet-Scale Services).

Chris Newcombe of Amazon recently presented an excellent talk on Erlang at the Berkeley RAD Lab. The first part of Chris’ Berkeley talk on Erlang is posted here: Erlang: Productivity and Performance (ChrisNewcombe_ErlangProductivityPerformance.pdf (298.21 KB)). The second half of Chris’ talk is posted at: http://ulf.wiger.net/weblog/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/damp09-erlang-multicore.pdf (unfortunately this link is down at the time of this posting).

Update: Ulf Wiger offers a live URL for his excellent slides: http://www.cse.unsw.edu.au/~pls/damp09/damp09-wiger-keynote.pdf.

In this talk Chris gives an overview of Erlang, talks about some of the advantages of the language, and then goes through some of the performance strengths and weaknesses of Erlang.


James Hamilton, Amazon Web Services

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