Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Misconception About Server Performance

One of the biggest misconceptions about running software on servers is that it will be slower than having a local personal computer. My experience is that for the most part, the reverse is true when you buy hardware big enough to run your highest concurrent loads. That server will end up being of much higher quality and have better performance than any desktop computer or laptop you will purchase. This is especially true as desktop hardware moves through a normal 3-4 year duty cycle.

Following that line of thought, our 5 year old OpenOffice server is moving into retirement and I'm testing the new one. It's a 4 processor, quad core 2.4Ghz HP rack mounted box with 16GB of memory. Using a stop watch I'm starting the swriter binary and getting cold starts around 2.69 seconds for the UI to fully display. The splash screen only displays for about 1 second. I think the users will be very pleased with this upgrade.


6 comments:

bisho said...

And with hundreds of users the possibility of a cold startup is minimal.

How long takes the first startup for one user when another user has already launched one copy? Should fly...

Dave Richards said...

Yes, cold starts never happen on multi-user systems. It should be even faster. After this server is put into production I'll do some further testing and publish the data. Thanks for your interest!

George said...

Hmm.. just wondering, how much does it take the current/old server to start openoffice (no cold start). If you can see how many times openoffice is started you can make a nice statistic for the management with how many man-hours were gained from this upgrade :-D

Dave Richards said...

3.85 seconds on the old server. So at least a 1 second gain. So if we launch around 300 times a day that gets us 5 man minutes of time back. :)

Anonymous said...

So application load times seem to be great, but how about the general interface? Things like scrolling down a page or navigating through menus, is it just like doing it on a local computer, or can you notice a delay?

Dave Richards said...

There is no difference in speed in applications over remote display. Scrollbars and pulldown menus are crisp and fast. It really 'feels' like you are on a high powered computer.

The only thing that runs slower is when you run Compiz in 24 bit color at 1152x900 or higher. GIMP and Firefox are slow. This is a limitation of 100Mb networking. What we do is drop those resolutions down to 16 bit color; the users can barely tell the difference in quality.