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(Contact Info: larry at larryblakeley dot com)

Important Note: You will need to click this icon to download the free needed to view most of the images on this Web site - just a couple of clicks and you're "good to go."

I manage this Web site and the following Web sites: Leslie (Blakeley) Adkins - my oldest daughter

Lori Ann Blakeley (June 20, 1985 - May 4, 2005) - my middle daughter

Evan Blakeley- my youngest child

64-bit Linux: Ready for prime time?

Our tests of Opteron and Itanium servers show big performance gains today and promises of bigger gains to come.

By Logan G. Harbaugh, August 1, 2003

Ultimately, the appeal to business software vendors and customers alike will depend on performance. Compared to the previous generation of 32-bit systems based on AMD's Athlon MP and Intel's Xeon MP, the Opteron and Itanium CPUs support much more memory per processor, higher-speed connections between memory and the CPU, and faster interprocessor communications. To what extent do these advantages translate into real performance gains? To find out, I looked at Web server performance on four 64-bit Linux systems, including an Itanium 2 server from HP and Opteron systems from Appro http://www.larryblakeley.com/products/server_hardware/server_hardware.htm, Newisys (a company partly funded by AMD), and Pogo Linux.

The Opteron has one advantage over the Itanium: It can run 32-bit applications in native mode, while the Itanium runs 32-bit applications in emulation mode. This means legacy 32-bit applications will run slower on the Itanium than on Xeon systems or Opteron. It also means that applications can be ported to Opteron gradually, weaving in 64-bit support component by component, without requiring a wholesale rewrite before deployment.

To gauge the performance of these systems, I tested the loads the  Apache and Zeus Web servers would support before bogging down, using RadView Software's WebLoad 5 running on Ixia's TXS4 Load Module to simulate up to 1,000 simultaneous users. I also ran the same Web servers on a dual Xeon 2.8GHz server to create a baseline. The table below shows the number of virtual clients that were required to generate round-trip times of over than five seconds with Zeus and over two seconds with Apache.


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These results are a great advertisement for the Zeus Web server. Not only did Zeus respond much faster than Apache for a given number of clients, it handled much greater loads than the Apache server - even 1,000 virtual clients only produced four-second response times. In addition, it's stable at much higher loads than Apache, and even at high loads produces very uniform results: Raise the number of virtual clients and the response time goes up in a very predictable fashion. With Apache, on the other hand, response times, hits per second, and throughput numbers varied wildly with loads starting at 100 clients.

Finally, regarding the four systems tested, all proved to be solid machines. Among the Opteron units - all 1U boxes - the Appro http://www.larryblakeley.com/products/server_hardware/server_hardware.htm and Pogo Linux systems offer great value and horsepower for the price, while the Newisys offers a more substantial feature set, including a management card and hot-swap SCSI drives. The Itanium-based HP system, a 2U box, offers great expandability and redundant everything, albeit at a higher price.

The Appro system produced the best performance by a slight margin across all my tests - despite having the lowest price tag of the bunch.