Best practice for a web farm?

Dustin Sallings dustin at
Sat Feb 2 18:04:13 UTC 2008

   This post describes about half of why I stopped using Apache  
everywhere I could a while ago.

Dustin Sallings (mobile)

On Feb 1, 2008, at 23:24, Jed Reynolds <lists at> wrote:

> dormando wrote:
>> More or less.
>> The most efficient-for-the-money method to start out with is to add  
>> more RAM to your CPU nodes (dynamic webservers, whatever) and run a  
>> memcached instance on there too. Cheap to add RAM to hardware  
>> you're using for other things, but expensive to get entire boxes  
>> for it.
>> Very very few people actually peg memcached with CPU usage, and if  
>> you, you should be able to afford a few dedicated machines :)
> Putting memcached on the same nodes as you put your apache workers  
> leaves you in a position to run your memcached into swap during a  
> request spike/flood and then you may as well just reboot your node  
> because the performance has fallen away badly. For example, if you  
> expect to run up to apache 200 workers per node with a worker size  
> of 20MB, this means 4GB of ram. If you want to dedicate 1G for  
> memcached, make sure you have ram leftover for the rest of your OS  
> and cache and buffers. However, the longer you work your workers,  
> and depending on your app settings, expect your apache processes to  
> fatten over time. So if your workers grow from 20MB to 60MB (I  
> regularly see 66MB httpd processes in my environment), then you've  
> created a situation where your workers demand 12GB during a request  
> spike. If you don't have >12GB ram...uh...yeah.
> My point: if you want your web nodes to *take a beating* (and I've  
> seen this happen repeatedly from spambots and trackback botnets)  
> don't put memcache on your webnodes. Put your memcache on nodes that  
> are well protected from memory starvation dedicated boxes or  
> an NFS server.
>> If you're worried about CPU thrashing a lot, you can use utilities  
>> like schedutils to 'ping' memcached to a specific core on a  
>> specific CPU, and 'mask' your webserver processes to all of the  
>> rest. It can help a little bit but isn't usually necessary.
> I wouldn't worry about httpd instances thrashing the cpu, because  
> httpd workers overload on a multi-cpu box pretty well. I've often  
> watched a 4GB,  4 core Xeon 2.6ghz box handle 4000-10000 connections  
> per second, under load 10-20 with about 400 apache workers and while  
> it swapped a bit, it kept up surprisingly well. (My httpd instances  
> were not as large--more like 25MB). I had my memcached instances on  
> my NFS node, which never sustained much load. There were also 3  
> mysql servers behind it, too :-) I appreciated that web server a lot.
> Jed

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