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Fancy new hardware

3:52 pm on Feb 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

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joined:Feb 11, 2003
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Who's running on old hardware, who's running on fancy new stuff?

I've been tinkering with the idea of upgrading lately,mostly because my hardware is so old. Then I wonder what the heck for - 5+ year old hardware works better than excellent for most of us and is dirt cheap.

example: I've got a couple of dell 1750 1u servers. Dual 3 gig xeons, 8 gigs of ram, 3 scis hd's. And they're not running very hot.

Here's the thing. I can pick up that machine now for like $300 or less. When I bought them originally, they were 'better' machines and I way overpowered them (back when 8 gigs was huge).

What say you folks? Have you upgraded to fancy new 4 processor machines with solid state HD's and all that? Or just happy running on stuff that works fine? I really don't think it changes the user experience a bit.

I'm reminded of fishing. The fish looking at the bait can't tell if you're in a 30K bass boat with fancy gear and high end rods, or if you're using a string over the side of a canoe.
4:30 pm on Feb 14, 2010 (gmt 0)

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The hardware requirements for sites can vary hugely; how much processing/io is required for an average query and how many queries are happening simultaneously? If you have simple requirements on moderately busy sites then quite old hardware can be more than adequate.

However, that's not the only cost to consider. You still need to host the box somewhere, which means a cost that's likely to be variable depending on size and power consumption (assuming the same bandwidth requirements for either server). It could be that a new, low power 1U server will be cheaper than many older servers (although I concede that you already have 1U boxes, so no difference in space for you unless you go to extremes).

The real differences start to show when you are looking at the boundaries of what is possible on a single small server; how about tens of thousands of IOPS and 3GB/s read speeds from an array of 16 intel ssd's (2.5TB) hooked up to two 8 way intel HBA's in a 2U box that has dual 5500 xeons (total of 8 physical cores) and 48GB@1066Mhz or 72GB@800Mhz DDR3 RAM plus a 640GB FusionIO DUO to provide IOPS in the 120,000 range for ultra low latency small pieces of data. There's an awful lot of processing you can do if that box is solely serving the needs of one user (using multithreaded software architecture) for even a quarter of a second; but you need a really good reason to use that type of hardware as a box like that costs nearly a hundred times the price you quoted!

It all comes down to what the application is and who you are serving - we have machines at both ends of that spectrum.

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