Behind AnandTech - Upgrading the Server Farmby Anand Lal Shimpi on January 16, 2001 4:17 PM EST
- Posted in
- IT Computing
In August of 2000 we documented the largest server upgrade in the history of AnandTech. We added to our previous set of four dual Xeon boxes an additional four web servers and a new mail/images server. The significance of this particular server upgrade was that the five systems we sent up to our host were all using AMD Athlon processors.
For the longest time AMD could not be taken seriously as a manufacturer of server class processors. The introduction of the Athlon changed all that; with the release of the Thunderbird core the Athlon was finally ready for primetime.
If you remember back to our original article on the upgrade, the reason for pursuing an AMD based solution was because, at the time, there were no Intel solutions that could fit our needs. We required a solution that supported at least 768MB of PC133 SDRAM, this ruled out the i815E as an option.
We didn't have enough confidence in the Apollo Pro 133A chipset at the time and it was clear that the majority of the 133A-based motherboards out there weren't designed with server setups in mind. Xeons weren't really an option since the higher speed solutions required a 133MHz FSB and the only Slot-2 chipset that did so was part of the ServerWorks line which we had no experience with at the time either. Plus, for web serving, Xeons were overkill. We did not require a large L2 cache; we required a fast L2 cache and a high clock speed.
The Athlon delivered on both of those requirements making it perfect for our needs. And over the past few months we have definitely put the setup to the test. In fact, four of the 1GHz Thunderbirds were more than enough to handle the load of AnandTech's ColdFusion based front-end. They did such a good job that we devoted our remaining dual Xeon based webserver (formerly www5.anandtech.com) to hosting the AnandTech Forums which have gone through an extreme growth-spurt of their own.
So as it stands now, we have two database servers, both dual Xeon systems: one hosting the AnandTech Database, the other hosting the AnandTech Forums Database. On the web side of things, AnandTech currently employs the same four 1GHz Thunderbird systems we introduced in August while the Forums are still run off of two of our original dual Xeon boxes.
Just recently, AnandTech Forums users began noticing high traffic errors and general sluggishness while surfing through the Forums. However on our end, the performance of the web servers seemed to be just fine leaving the database server as the culprit of the recently degraded performance. This didn't make much sense, because the Forum's database server was configured almost identically to the AnandTech database server and AnandTech is definitely under a heavier load than the forums. Or is it?
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