AnandTech: A Brief History of Time

by Jason Clark on 7/26/2004 6:52 PM EST


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  • bobbozzo - Monday, August 09, 2004 - link

    Jason, would you be willing to publish your # of monthly pageviews?

    We're running a single quad xeon server and wondering whether to get a faster server or a cluster. We're at almost 4million page views/mo; over 1/3 of those are searching our database.

  • JasonClark - Monday, August 02, 2004 - link

    A behind the scenes hardware upgrade is coming soon. Reply
  • czakalw3 - Monday, August 02, 2004 - link

    "have learned more in 3-4 years than some people do in their entire career."

    nice one.

    beyond all the technical considerations, it seems your change of platform is nothing but a "were already commited to ms in the os so why not go all the way?"

    dont label me as a fundamentalist but cost could easily be 0 with the same results?
  • czakalw3 - Monday, August 02, 2004 - link

  • Devnut - Saturday, July 31, 2004 - link

    One thing that seemed to be lacking in this article that was present in all the past "anandtech upgrade" articles, was much more detail in relation to the hardware changes/upgrades, and why you did what you did.

    I noticed Jason indicated SQL2000 was running on a quad opteron, so there's obviously been some significant changes. Can we expect an update on this front?
  • Zoomer - Friday, July 30, 2004 - link

    Would you please post load information for your quad opteron?

    It would be interesting, to say the least.
  • Staples - Thursday, July 29, 2004 - link

    I saw this article posted a few days ago but just decided to look at the comments to see how many posts it took for the Linux fanboys to show themselves. Apparently not long. Anywho, I am just starting out with the whole .net thing since I have heard such good things about it. This article is just another one. Reply
  • RZaakir - Thursday, July 29, 2004 - link

    Man I wish the these PHP fanboys would realize that Microsoft actually has a few good products. I think that PHP is superior to ASP classic in many ways but PHP (version 4 anyway) and ASP.NET aren't even in the same league. Period. You'd be better off making a JSP vs. ASP.NET argument as they are similar products.

    Does MySQL have stored procedures in a production version yet?
  • JasonClark - Thursday, July 29, 2004 - link

    FFS, I don't care for HardOCP's design, it's dated and the black background isnt for us... THe design looks great, I think the only way to get more clean is to remove more ads... but that isn't going to happen. Speed-wise, I think you have some issues somewhere, here the page shows in less than 3 tenths of a second. Benchmarks indicate about 2 tenths. Reply
  • Macaw - Thursday, July 29, 2004 - link

    You've been blogged:

  • FFS - Thursday, July 29, 2004 - link

    Clean design it's a half of succes.
    Look at Google - it is not only that powerfully search made it popular like now, but super clean design too.
    The Inquirer is also nice and clean...
    I 100% understand that you can't please 'em all :).
    But cleanness also will bring more speed... Correct me if I'm wrong
    And you still could have a style as well (that's why I mentioned [H]ard|OCP - even thou I'm not such a big fun of black and red)
  • simms - Thursday, July 29, 2004 - link

    We still need a :cookie; emoticon. Reply
  • SlingXShot - Thursday, July 29, 2004 - link

    With all these Anandtech versions, anandtech should be an artifical inteligence already. :-D Reply
  • JasonClark - Thursday, July 29, 2004 - link

    FFS: Can't please em all :). We're happy with it, i do agree about the white background. It's something we're looking at, but it isnt an easy fix with the css layout.

  • FFS - Thursday, July 29, 2004 - link

    It is very good article indeed...
    About speed subjectively it loads slower and slower for me on my FireFox 0.9.2. - but of cause you have benchmarked everything :)
    Once I've read on Inq that there are two types of hardware lies: lies and benchmarks :)))
    However improving the code for the better one and therefore the speed it is not the only thing about nice web page.
    Another thing is design. And I have to admit (again from my point of view) that from version 3 to 5 its mostly regressed.
    Especially that gray background covering the article so it's impossible to read during the page loading time, which a pretty long.
    PLEASE remove that gray background (keep it white like on v.3)
    Tabs on the top - good idea, but bad realization - no clean borders - small fonts e.t.c.
    Again news section - even worst one gray on another gray - have you herd about contrast colors? :((
    Too be honest best hardware-review site design so far is [H]ard|OCP...

    Funny but for me this article sound like excuse for the creating the page, which loads adds very fast but ...(see above)
    Is that a hidden feature of .NET We could expect everything from MS (even anti-virus prog :))
    Don't get me wrong - I'm also using WinXP, and have the same opinion about it - it is not less stable then Linux in good hands,
    although not that stable as Mac OS X even in "simple" hands (again I'm not Apple fun as it could seemed)...

    Sorry it was already too much I wrote.
    As resume - great team, superb reviews, but sorry - bad web page...
  • Macaw - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    Nice article.

    The whole .NET framework is pretty extensive. I have some nice things on image-generation from .NET if you want the source. You can use GDI+ from .NET to generate uber cool graphs.

  • JasonClark - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    SlingXShot, lol jobless? We innovate, so that means writing new code and improving all the time. Sitting on the same code for 10 years doesn't seem very innovative to me. There is ALWAYS room for improvement, thus versions. If people didn't freshen their code we'd still be running windows 3.11 for workgroups, yek.

    Brickster, we're using SQL Server 2000 on Windows 2003 Enterpise server. That is running on a quad opteron 848 with 8GB of ram and 150 GB Raid 10 array. Can we say overkill :)

  • SlingXShot - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    JasonClark, just that you have so many version of Anandtech, I guess you need the new versions of software to change code or you would be jobless right? Reply
  • Brickster - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    Jason, maybe I missed it, but what database platform are you using with the latest AT 5.0?

    Thanks again!
  • fbaum - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    Heyyo Jason, thx for the reply, and for qualifying the graphs. Would love to see a fair platform compario but that would be a lot of work and as you pointed out that's not really the point. I'm using VS 2003 on a project now, developing a C# .NET web service to interface with a B2B messaging hub, it's kind of complex, and I'm yearning a bit for the more immediately gratifying CF web development I had on my previous project. As a CF fan I felt compelled to put in my $0.02.


  • Brickster - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    Great article!!! Thank you so much for publishing this, as it is a testament to Anandtech's drive to help the community understand and appreciate hardware AND software technology for all that it can help us in our personal and business ventures.

    Personally, I am starting a database driven website, and have been looking for advice on what approach to take. This insight has helped me TREMENDOUSLY, and I thank you for the article!

    Keep up the good work and do let us know how things go!

  • JasonClark - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    Geesh jason, spell. Use what best fits your business. Reply
  • JasonClark - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    AutomaticErik, and .NET has a lot of advantages over PHP, PHP is most certainly no better than .NET. They both have their uses, and their different target markets. Use what your best fits your business, thats the bottom line. PHP does not fit our system infrastructure, so we use .NET. Reply
  • washboard - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    Maybe this is not the place, BUT
    Using Mozilla 1.7 with "enable Java Script on" site loads very slow. With it off the site is snappy. Don't have the problem with IE. Have a very fast DSL connection. Love this site, keep up the good work.


    John Coleman
  • AutomaticErik - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    I've been doing web design and database management for years and I've never once run across a project that wouldn't be able to use PHP/MySQL. I think most don't realize the true power you have with a PHP/MySQL setup. Its certainly every bit as powerful as any of the other soultions out there and in most tests and benchmarks, its faster and more efficient. I've even run personal benchmarks and found this to be true.

    All in all, people use what they are comfortable with and in that respect, PHP isn't for everyone. But it does hold many advantages over .NET. Most just don't mess around with it enough to find that out.
  • JasonClark - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    Sling, we actually should run whatever we want to..., or whatever we feel works well in our environment. PHP isn't for everyone and holds no advantage over .NET. .NET is free, granted the OS is not but neither are commercial linux solutions like redhat or suse?. Again, we like windows, it works just as well as linux and fits our needs just fine.

  • SlingXShot - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    Btw Jason, you have a bug. You should write some kind of script to warn the user when clicking Post Comment when this form box is empty. Reply
  • SlingXShot - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    So many updates, you guys should have started with php, no costs running that. With PHP when there is an update, and you are using old code, there is always a easy very around it, with quick fixes. I can't wait to play around with PHP 5. Reply
  • SlingXShot - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

  • sonicDivx - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link


    Thx for the reply, yeah I was wondering would make a great case study. Also be a good lesson for developers. Glad its all worked for ya, and my interest is peaked in looking at VS 2003.

    That's cool. I'll tell my co-worker who is Alpha testing Blackstone (next version of CF) that they really need to keep these things in mind.
  • PorBleemo - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    vda #30:

    You forget that their servers are a little more powerful then 166Mhz.
  • JasonClark - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    No where in the comparison did we say the performance comparison was CF vs .NET, well aware that there are some differences in page layout along with architecture. The comparison was the old site to the new site. For us to do a fair comparions the code would have to be quite similar, and even then it is still not apples to apples. Overall, platform, css and a re-architecture of the site brought us some large gains (as illustrated).

    Yes we had already invested in licensing, but with some JRUN related issues that went unresolved, and the cost of future licensing .NET was a better choice for us.

    RAD is great, but honestly with Visual Studio 2003, the argument isn't as great as you might think.
  • fbaum - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    Hey ho...

    Just noted that your interface from pure HTML to CSS doesn't really result in an apples to apples comparison of cf to vb.NET performance. No matter how you slice it, larger pages = slower rendering site. Taking down pages from 130K down to around 45K in HTML would yield huge performance gains without changing your app server, and wouldn't have required you to redevelop code, just presentation.

    Got to agree, the VS IDE is slick. But I'm a RAD fan and a cf fan, I like having useful builtin functions to call upon, and .NET coding sometimes makes development that should be easy harder than it should be.

    Why rewrite? Your server licenses are already bought, right?

    Disclaimer: my email address ends in, consider my comments accordingly

  • kenny4269 - Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - link

    Nice article, always interesting to read behind the scenes stuff.

    I work as a computer tech and have one thing to say about Windows. Outside of the security holes (which ANY OS can have), most Windows problems are caused by the user. Keeping up to date with patches, antivirus, not opening attachments, etc. all all things that MUST be done on ANY OS (open source or not). If you download BonziBuddy on your Windows PC or some poorly written Linux app, you can still have problems.
    Don't get me wrong, I like Linux, but don't tell me it's perfect choice for everything just because it's open source.
  • JasonClark - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    sonixDivx, the performance gain was a combination of our new layout (removing the news), and the architecture of our .NET version. But, the way we wrote the .NET site is similar to writing a ColdFusion app with CFC's as the backend, very similar. I'm not sure we'll do a comparison of the two, since the two sites are fairly different in layout and content.

  • JasonClark - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link


    What happens when a 18 year old genius has the source code to the operating system that your entire system architecture relies on? Then exploits a vulnerability in the source code (yes unix developers make mistakes, enough that redhat network sends out a constant stream of e-mail :)).

    Then that exploit (which was easy to find as you had source code) takes your network down and costs you thousands every hour? There is another side to the open source argument, I'm not saying I don't believe in the movement, but your argument is one-sided.

    BTW, the registry has never been corrupt for us, and that's what emergency backup disks are for btw, I certainly hope you don't run linux assuming it will never break :).

    Phiro: we use Linux Virtual Server (vda are you reading this? LINUX virtual server :)). We use 5 web servers run the site, we could run off of 1 except on extremely busy days. We like redundancy.
  • vda - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    > In regards to linux, our expertise lies in windows and it hasn't given us any grief what so ever

    Problems do happen with every OS. Now, when Windows hangs on you, what do you do? When registry got corrupted, what do you do?

    Nothing. You can do nothing because you have no source of the damn thing. You have next to nothing in regard to debugging facilities. No strace. No gdb. No kernel debugger. Disassembling stuff is
    possible but illegal.

    It does not matter for "yesterday's advanced user"
    style admins and web designers, for they are Gates' target audience.

    For me, it does matter.
  • vda - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    > Code is as bloated as the developer makes it, experience, experience...

    Hehe. Our corporate Internet gateway have
    lots of stuff. Tons of network utils
    (nmap, mtr, tcpdump, iptables, traffic shaper)
    and services (*transparent chaching web proxy*,
    www, mail, secure ftp, DNS server, DNS cache).

    It runs on Pentium 166 and 40Mb of RAM.

    Try to install Windows NT on that.
  • vda - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    I once said this:

    'What happens when you read some doc and either it doesn't answer your question or is demonstrably wrong? In Linux, you say "Linux sucks" and go read the code. In Windows/Oracle/etc you say "Windows sucks" and start banging your head against the wall.'

    To my surprize, it even propagated into some .signature files :)
  • Aaron - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    A well written C++ .Net ISAPI filter on IIS beat out Apache in any confguration last I checked.

    Anandtech Team: Are you looking to add any additional developers to your team? I am a senior .net dev / usability designer / MS SQL Server DBA / systems architect. Work on your application would make a welcome addition to my resume. Email me if you are interested.

    aaron.dezeeuw #at#
  • Phiro - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    So how are you laid out? Are your web servers clustered? Are you using App Center? Component Load Balancing? Request forwarding? Reply
  • JasonClark - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    In regards to linux, our expertise lies in windows and it hasn't given us any grief what so ever. Windows can be stable if it is administrated properly.

    Code is as bloated as the developer makes it, experience, experience...
  • joeld - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    alfatekpt - what are the advantages of PHP/MySql over Windows and the .Net platform? I haven't researched this much, but I am under the impression that a SQL server is better than a MySQL server, and would guess that PHP/Apache would be a little faster than IIS/.NET, but that's just a guess. I know it's very easy to code on .NET, which can make your pages bloated if you are not careful - something that hardly happens with PHP. Reply
  • alfatekpt - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    You have servers with high needs and you use Windows and .NET plataform... I don't need to be a big *nix zealot to say that is so wrong...

    You never tried PHP/MySql? You can save the money in software to hire a linux sys admin to tune your servers...
  • vda - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

  • vda - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    Did you ever considered using Linux? Reply
  • sonicDivx - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    Very Interesting. Im a ColdFusion developer so kinda bummed that you had switched. Looking at the performance numbers, I was wondering was % of improvement can be attributed to .Net and wondering did you try recoded routines in MX to do a performance comparisons ( always new ways to skin a cat).

    Just curious from an informational standpoint.

  • ChucklesHB - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    I got turned onto Anandtech about... 2 years ago (the 3.0 version was only around a short time) and I've been a fan ever since.

    As a web developer myself, it's great to see sites that don't have an issue with showing the evolution of the technology behind the scenes. Thanks for a peek behind the curtains. ;)
  • Creig - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    It'd be nice to be able to go through the old news/forums again. Maybe they could be rehosted on a "Limited time only" basis so the oldtimers could reminisce and the newcomers could see cutting edge overclocking with a 300a Celeron that would do 450. :) Reply
  • RZaakir - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    Cool article,

    But come on now, ASP.NET syntax is VERY different from ASP. If for no other reason than the fact that you're going from VBScript to VB and Javascript to J#/C#.

    Not to mention the other features like User/Server controls (as opposed to SSIs), Assemblies (as opposed to COM Objects), and language independence. Though ASP was a bit more flexible than many people thought on the latter.
  • Dennis Travis - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    Great Job with the site Jason as always and it was interesting to see how far things have come along since I first started visiting here.

    Keep up the great work.

  • stoneranger - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

    kewl read, I enjoyed it. Really. I think it is very interesting the progress the industry has made. Things are actually getting easier. I love anand tech. Of course I could be considered a geek by some. But I think it is by far one of the best sites on the web.
  • Frozen7 - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

  • Frozen7 - Tuesday, July 27, 2004 - link

  • Da3dalus - Monday, July 26, 2004 - link

    Nice to see some of the earlier designs, I didn't visit this place in the 1.0 to 3.0 days. Reply
  • cameronj - Monday, July 26, 2004 - link

    Under the 5.0 heading it says "
    Hardware used in version 4.0
    5 x Dual AMD Athlon MP 1900+ w/ 1GB Memory"

    Interesting article though :)
  • CrystalBay - Monday, July 26, 2004 - link

    Ahh The Celery Report...Do you guys have all this stuff archived ? Reply
  • CompMan86 - Monday, July 26, 2004 - link

    Two errors: 1) The second graph on the conclusion page, the caption says "the graph below" instead of "the graph above." Also, "SQL Sever/Sybase world and while" on page 2 should say Server, not sever. Minor mistakes, just thought I'd give you the heads up. Otherwise, awesome article!

    And in response to the target=_blank comment, you have no control over window size or window attributes (like toolbars) with that. target=_blank is good when linking to an external site, but if you want to have a customized popup, javascript IS the standard.
  • quanta - Monday, July 26, 2004 - link

    Why the site keep on using Javascript to open a new window when it can be done using 'target=_blank' attribiute? Is that Anandtech's idea of 'standard compliance'? Reply
  • PorBleemo - Monday, July 26, 2004 - link

    Great job Jason! Always an interesting change to see site background like this... Reply
  • STaSh - Monday, July 26, 2004 - link

    Keep up the great work guys. The site is very fast, and I really enjoy these behind the scenes articles. Reply
  • JasonClark - Monday, July 26, 2004 - link

    Thanks for the comments thus far, some answers:

    1) Very true regarding what you can buy for a reasonable sum of money these days. We have been running the same hardware for over 2 years now, and I don't see any changes any time soon. The Dual Athlon MP's are holding up just fine, especially with the headroom we have from the performance jump the .NET migration gave. I'd say hardware has gone ahead of load, you need less to do more for less money, if that makes sense :)

    2) We are all IDE in the webservers, no need for scsi as everything is in memory after initial compilation. The DB server has only changed in space, as the databases are growing, especially the statistics database..
  • Jeff7181 - Monday, July 26, 2004 - link

    Excellent article... I've always wondered what kind of server AnandTech was hosted on. Very interesting. I do have a couple questions though that were answered though.

    #1 Besides bandwidth of course, has the cost of the hardware stayed pretty much the same? I mean, $15,000 today buys A LOT more power than it did 2 years ago simply because more power is available now. With loads considered (more users now than when the site first started) is the cost pretty much the same to get hardware capable of handling the load? In other words, has the cost of the hardware grown more in line with load, or technology?

    #2 How has your disk storage needs changed, what drives were used in your first server and what ones are used now?
  • Locutus4657 - Monday, July 26, 2004 - link

    Cool, .Net is deffonetly a great platform to develope in... I've been trying to convince my boss that if we switched away from PHP/MySQL and went to .Net/Posgres (or MSSQL) all of our problems would be solved!

  • tfranzese - Monday, July 26, 2004 - link

    Not a bad job. I can relate to .NET as I recently had to jump into it for a client at work for a web application they speced out. It definately is a different animal compared to ASP. Reply
  • GokieKS - Monday, July 26, 2004 - link

    Been reading the site since the version 2.0 days, and this certainly brings back some memories and gives some interesting insights. Good job. =)

  • darkswordsman17 - Monday, July 26, 2004 - link

    Cool article. I'm a relatively new member and found this to be fairly interesting.

    Also, keep up the great work!

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