By Shayne Tilley

I love you Mr AMD Opteron Dual Core!

By Shayne Tilley

The critical importance of performance in generating traffic to your site is something that you learn very early in your online education. But as your site grows and things become more complicated its true value can often become clouded. So easily are you seduced by more fun and interesting considerations such as functionality, usability, aesthetics, and interface design.

But here’s one simple reason why you can never EVER forget why site performance is so important.

In the last few weeks we’ve upgraded our our blogs and moved our forum to the latest version of vBulletin. Very quickly our sys admin became concerned with the growing pressure on our servers. I’m no expert, but even I could see the dramatic shift in some of the utilization graphs I was shown…

The tipping point was Wednesday and we raised the priority of some longer term plans as well as implemented a quick upgrade to our server hardware (a couple of shiny new AMD Opteron Dual Core CPU’s.)

The effect was instantaneous and dramatic. Our response times were better than before the upgrades…

Result: The next day, bang, a 33% increase in our forum traffic!

So you can search engine optimize to your heart’s content, run A/B split testing, run advertising campaigns, made sure your design is accessible and usable, but it your servers can’t deal with the traffic, you’re slamming the door in visitors faces. And with so much choice these days, they’re not going to wait in the cold outside – they’re off to visit your competitors.

  • eretz

    Greetings from an avid Sitepoint.com reader, book reader and forum user over the last four years. I just wanted to second your opinion on the Dual-Opteron configurations and add to this our own experience of them!

    We setup a server with Rackspace around 2 years ago, which was running Windows Server 2003 on a single AMD 64bit CPU. Earlier this year we Beta tested Windows Server 2008 on Dual/Dual-Core AMD Opteron processors, and after going live on a new DELL 2970 configuration, I must say that the response has been dramatic. A much more responsive site, much more efficient DB queries. It is my opinion that the AMD Opterons are extremely solid processors, and are not to be looked down even when compared to the popular Quad Core Intel configurations.

    Another noteworthy performance consideration for those people running a single server is that it is not best practise to run your Web and DB servers in the same machine (…but who would listen). For this we used virtualized our Web and DB servers separately with Server 2008’s Hyper-V – this also has improved performance appreciably.

    I also see that we and Sitepoint both share the same good taste in web host! Rackspace have been outstanding for us, and I wanted to second for them too. (they’ve been so good to us that we can find noone better to recommend, and so became a RS solution partner! Do feel free to get in touch via PM if you require any free advice, further encouragement in this direction, an especially competitive quote via our AM!).

    PS: I can’t change my display name from an earlier one, can you advise?

  • thanks for the response. Although I’m not in tune with all the specifics, I’m pretty sure we run a separate web and DB server.

  • I love me the Dual Core Opterons, too. My “network” runs on one of these, as it’s not even close to SitePoint’s size ;-) …but I really love the fact that you’ve got additional resources, even if one core is pretty heavily loaded…good stuff!

  • Can you tell us what was the CPU in your server before the upgrade?
    Wondering if the old CPU was just getting old…

  • EvoVII

    If you like what the AMD does, you would love what some Quad-Core Intel Xeons would do :-)

    No flame war please, just had to say it.

  • Thanks EvoVII — I’d love to know why, but sadly I’d probably not understand it :-)

  • eretz

    Hi EvoVII,

    …Or some of those wonderful new AMD Quad-Core ‘Barcelona’ Opterons :)

    I have not yet had the pleasure of testing the Xeon Quad-Cores, but I do know of a lot of setups standardising on the similiarly specced DELL 2950 which runs them (even if the FB DIMMs are not as energy efficient, etc) – a very capable machine I am certain. For us though, the 2970 setup was more cost-effective compared to the 2950.

    It is worth noting that while our current server is only Dual/Dual-Core, it is drop-in upgradeable to the Quad-Core Opterons as available (as can be the HP DL385-G2 I believe) – worth considering for those people on Dual-Core’s who use the extra CPU boost. AMD have been a bit slow in the supply lines on the Quad-Cores but they are fully available now I believe.

    Also as Steve Ballmer would say… RAM, RAM, RAM!


  • How about using quad core? :)

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