Faster, more reliable, and eco-friendly too!

by pieterh on 28 Oct 2009 10:57

This morning we finished an upgrade of's database hardware to new servers that are faster than ever. This was so boring and uneventful that there was not a blip on the radar. All you will see is that is now faster, that complex pages return faster, and that even under much heavier load, will continue to run Fast & Smooth.

But under the covers, the story of this upgrade is fun. The database used to run on fast RAID systems of spinning magnetic hard drives (bunches of fast hard drives grouped together to be faster, and to handle failures).

Now,'s primary database sits on a RAID cluster of top-end Intel solid-state memory (SSD) drives. These are expensive but much faster than spinning rust, and much more reliable. We still have live replication slaves on spinning rust. SSD seems to be everywhere: two out of three of my notebooks use it. Well, you can now boast that your web site is running on pure silicon! No more moving parts, except the cooling fan.

Thanks to Michal and his team of database experts, who planned this move carefully over the last week, the migration to the new primary database was invisible and we did not have to bring down for even a second. Nice work, guys!

The SSDs are Intel X25-E Extreme, one of the fastest SSD drives out there. We're seeing a 7x improvement in database response time, and a 3x improvement in page rendering time. Pages that use ListPages a lot (like this blog, with its scrollbar) have even more improvement.

As well as giving us more reliability and speed, SSDs also use less power. One of the less obvious, but real advantages of putting your website at is that it uses less power than a separately hosted server. This is good for the environment as well as being so much easier.

Hope you enjoy the new faster!

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