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RE: Hardware and Operating Systems

Subject RE: Hardware and Operating Systems
Posted 6/14/2002; 2:59 PM by Seth Dillingham
Last Modified 6/14/2002; 2:59 PM by Seth Dillingham
In Response To RE: First Look at the Documentation Outline (#310)
Label High Read 2442
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On 6/14/02, Clark Venable said:

>Seth and I have had occasion to discuss the performance of Conversant on a Mac vs. a windows machine with a high MHz processor.  
>Would it be appropriate to discuss hardware choice, and provide some guidelines for what rocks and what rots?

That's a good idea, but it's hard to just answer it plainly.

The hardware requirements are determined by a matrix with at least three vectors: traffic to the sites, complexity of the sites, and the size of the sites (number of messages).

Free-Conversant, and all the free sites it hosts (as well as the fairly large support site) are all hosted on a 600 Mhz Pentium III with 384 MB Ram. Dave Winer picks on me about how slow those sites are, but he doesn't realize what lousy hardware it's running on.

Our biggest server is the one hosting 1.4 Ghz Athlon with 768 MB RAM. Crappy hard drive, though... I'd like to upgrade it but the customer's happy enough with the performance (2-3 seconds for most stuff, though his home page is actually slower than that).

My fastest mac is is a G4/450 running OSX. I'd never try to use it as a production system at Macrobyte, but it would work fine as a production intranet server for a smallish organization. Plus, it has a free version of everything one needs for the email interface, which makes it a very convenient system.

Doug Baron said that the reason Frontier/Win was so much faster than the Mac at certain operations was that the Win32 file system was an "order of magnitude faster" than the Mac's. Now that we have OSX that's no longer true, but the problem persists. Now it's because Frontier is very Mhz-dependent, and high-frequency processors are a lot cheaper and AVAILABLE in the Windows world than they are in the MacOS world.

I'd love to have the time and money to experiment. I'd take two 1 Ghz machines (1 MacOS X and 1 WinXP/2000/NT4), with the same amount of RAM, and totally optimize them JUST for running Conversant on Frontier. Whatever it takes, and that includes tuning (or disabling) everything in the operating system, other apps, and in Frontier itself. Then I'd run gobs of performance tests to find out which is faster.

For now, though, the rule is that higher-frequency processors and more RAM give you better performance, and that means Win32.


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