Available in both 32-bit and 64-bit, Joyent provides a variety of developer friendly SmartOS images. You can provision SmartOS instances pre-configured with common webstack software such as Apache, Nginx, PHP, Perl, Python, Ruby, Memcached, MySQL, Postgresql and more. If you prefer to setup your own server and compile your own tools from scratch, you can provision a SmartOS base instance that is completely stripped down except for essential utilities.
Typically, machine types such as Linux VMs support guest operating systems through a hypervisor. This can add overhead and is most noticeable for network-heavy workloads because guest operating systems need to navigate the hypervisor layer before gaining access to hardware resources. SmartOS instances use OS virtualization to achieve efficient and performant use of virtualized resources. With SmartOS, applications are running on bare-metal, meaning there is no extra layer to navigate.
In addition, Joyent SmartOS instances also provide greater exposure to performance analysis using DTrace. Running these tools on a SmartOS instance provides for a greater level of accuracy when troubleshooting performance problems.
Starting with 13.1.0, SmartOS-based images use new version numbering. The major version number matches the pkgsrc release year (13=2013), the minor version number matches the pkgsrc release quarter (1=Q1), and the tiny version number denotes a minor update.