What's That Noise?! [Ian Kallen's Weblog]

Main | Next day (Oct 15, 2007) »

20071014 Sunday October 14, 2007

Benchmarks Smenchmarks

I've been hearing about folks using the LightSpeed web server instead of Apache for its supposed performance gains and ease of use. OK, so maybe if you're not familiar with the subtleties and madness of Apache, it can seem complicated. But the performance issues are often red herrings. Granted, it's been a few years since I've done any web server benchmarking but from my previous experience with these things, the details really matter for the outcomes and in the real world, the outcomes themselves matter very little.

The benchmark results published on the LightSpeed Technologies web site raised a flag for me right away: their comparison to Apache 2.0 was with the pre-forked MPM instead of the worker MPM. Is it any wonder that the results are pretty close to those for Apache 1.3? Either they had no idea what they were doing when they performed this benchmark or they knew exactly what they were doing and were burying the superior scalability of the worker MPM. Pitting a threaded or event driven process model against a forked one is just stupid. However, the evidence leans more towards willful sloppiness or fraud than ignorance. For instance, they claim to have raised the concurrency on Apache above 10k connections ... but they link to an httpd.conf that has MaxClients set to 150. RTFM, that can't happen.

Why don't these things matter in the real world? In benchmark world, there aren't varying client latencies (slow WAN links, etc), varying database response times (for instance MySQL's response times are very spikey), the vagueries of load balancers ebbing and flowing the load and logging configurations aren't set up for log data management. In the real world, application design and these various externalities are the culprits in application performance, not CPU bottlenecks in the web server runtime. The PHP interpreter itself is likely not your bottleneck either. If you're writing crap-assed code that performs unnecessary loops or superfluous database calls, it's going to run like crap no matter what web server is driving it (I've had to pick through a lot of error-ridden PHP code in my day). With Apache's support for sendfile() static file serving and all of the flexibility you get from mod_proxy, mod_rewrite and the rest of the toolkit, I don't understand the appeal of products like LightSpeed's.


( Oct 14 2007, 11:43:08 PM PDT ) Permalink