Website Performance: Drupal 7.21

While there are few web servers that actually need such processing behemoths, we decided to go ahead and test in this area, just for the sake of satifying our curiosity. Most websites are based on the LAMP stack: Linux, Apache, MySQL, and PHP. Few people write HTML/PHP code from scratch these days, so we turned to running a Drupal 7.21 based site. The web server is Apache 2.4.7 and the database is MySQL 5.5.38 on top of Ubuntu 14.04 LTS.

Drupal powers massive sites like The Economist and MTV Europe and has a reputation of being a hardware resources hog. That is a price more and more developers pay happily for lowering the time to market for their work. We tested the Drupal website with our vApus stress testing framework and increased the number of connections from 5 to 1500.

First we report the maximum throughput achievable with 95% percent of requests being handled faster than 100 ms. It is important to note that there's a chance that a user experiences a much slower response time on a request, which could be much longer than 100 ms. Also, as each page view consists of many requests, there's an increased chance that one of the "slow responses" is among them. So the average response time is definitely a very bad indicator of user experience, and ensuring the 95% percentile is still fast enough is a lot safer.

Drupal 7.21 web performance

In the case of our Drupal testing, the new Haswell EP Xeons definitely take the lead, but at the top of the stack we don't see a lot of scaling with additional cores – the E5-2699 v3 and the E5-2695 v3 deliver nearly the same result. There are several reasons for this. The first is that the database of our current test website is too small. The second is that we still need to fine tune the configuration of our website to scale better with such high core counts.

We'll remedy this in the future as we adapt our tuning. Right now, it seems that we get good scaling up to 24 physical cores, but beyond that our tuning probably needs more work. Nevertheless, we felt we should share this result as most website owners do not have a specialized "make it scale" engineering team like Google and Facebook. And yes, it is probably better to load balance your website over several smaller nodes.

Still, the results are quite interesting. It looks like the new Xeon v3 scales better. The Xeon E5-2690 has no trouble keeping up – thanks to its higher clock speed – with the Ivy Bridge EP Xeon, which features a higher core count. The Xeon E5-2650L v3 has a lower clock speed but is able to use its higher core count to perform better. One of the reasons might be the fact that synchronization latency has been significantly improved.

Java Server Performance Drupal Website: Performance per Watt


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  • MorinMoss - Friday, August 9, 2019 - link

    Hello from 2019.
    AMD has a LOT of ground to make up but it's a new world and a new race
  • Kevin G - Monday, September 8, 2014 - link

    As an owner of a dual Opteron 6376 system, I shudder at how far behind that platform is. Then I look down and see that I have both of my kidneys as I didn't need to sell one for a pair of Xeons so I don't feel so bad. For the price of one E5-2660v3 I was able to pick up two Opteron 6376's. Reply
  • wallysb01 - Monday, September 8, 2014 - link

    But the rest of the system cost is about the same. So you get 1/2 the performance for a 10% discount. YEPPY! Reply
  • Kevin G - Monday, September 8, 2014 - link

    Nope. Build price after all the upgrades over the course of two years is some where around $3600 USD. The two Opterons accounted for a bit more than a third of that price. Not bad for 32 cores and 128 GB of memory. Even with Haswell-E being twice as fast, I'd have to spend nearly twice as much (CPU's cost twice as much as does DDR4 compared to when I bought my DDR3 memory). To put it into prespective, a single Xeon E5 2999v3 might be faster than my build but I was able to build an entire system for less than the price Intel's flagship server CPU.

    I will say something odd - component prices have increased since I purchased parts. RAM prices have gone up by 50% and the motherboard I use has seemingly increased in price by $100 due to scarcity. Enthusiast video card prices have also gotten crazy over the past couple of years so a high end video card is $100 more for top of the line in the consumer space.
  • wallysb01 - Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - link

    Going to the E5 2699 isn’t needed. A pair of 2660 v3s is probably going to be nearly 2x as fast the 6376, especially for floating point where your 32 cores are more like 16 cores or for jobs that can’t use very many threads. True a pair of 2660s will be twice as expensive. On a total system it would add about $1.5K. We’ll have to wait for the workstation slanted view, but for an extra $1.5K, you’d probably have a workstation that’s much better at most tasks. Reply
  • Kevin G - Friday, September 12, 2014 - link

    Actually if you're aiming to double the performance of a dual Opteron 6376, two E5-2695v3's look to be a good pick for that target according to this review. A pair of those will set you pack $4848 which is more than what my complete system build cost.

    Processors are only one component. So while a dual Xeon E5-2695v3 system would be twice as fast, total system cost is also approaching double due to memory and motherboard pricing differences.
  • Kahenraz - Monday, September 8, 2014 - link

    I'm running a 6376 server as well and, although I too yearn for improved single-threaded performance, I could actually afford to own this one. As delicious as these Intel processors are, they are not priced for us mere mortals.

    From a price/performance standpoint, I would still build another Opteron server unless I knew that single-threaded performance was critical.
  • JDG1980 - Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - link

    The E5-2630 v3 is cheaper than the Opteron 6376 and I would be very surprised if it didn't offer better performance. Reply
  • Kahenraz - Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - link

    6376s can be had very cheaply on the second-hand market, especially bundled with a motherboard. Additionally, the E5-2630 v3 requires both a premium on the board and DDR4 memory.

    I'd wager you could still build an Opteron 6376 system for half or less.
  • Kevin G - Tuesday, September 9, 2014 - link

    It'd only be fair to go with the second hand market for the E5-2630v3's but being new means they don't exist. :)

    Still going by new prices, an Opteron 6376 will be cheaper but roughly 33% from what I can tell. You're correct that the new Xeon's have a premium pricing on motherboards and DDR4 memory.

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