The new, lightning fast Semi dedicated servers
As you may already know, in SiteGround we’ve always been in pursuit of server tweaks, hacks and optimizations with one primary goal – deliver the fastest possible (and secure at the same time) website loading speed. We know how important it is for a website to load fast, how frustrating it is having to wait for 15 seconds just to see a header banner image and then 10 more seconds to load the body of the website. And nowadays even search engines like Google take into account website loading speed when it comes to search results.
During the years our system operations team, the brilliant geeks who write all the beautiful system software for SiteGround, has written thousands of lines of code to help us optimize the security and speed of the hosted websites. We’ve revolutionized how shared hosting industry works with the 1H Software, which by the way provides one of the fastest methods of running PHP nowadays. Since then, all our shared and semi-dedicated servers run and operate with 1H Software and many clients have praised us about the speed with which their websites are delivered.
Yet, we know we could do even more. So, our admin team started the year 2012 with one goal in mind – creating the fastest shared web hosting platform out there. And I think we’re almost there. Here’s in brief what’s cooking for you in our admin kitchen. I’ll be updating this as it goes on throughout the year, but the results I am about to share are already impressive…
Starting today, we will be migrating all SiteGround Semi Dedicated Servers to a new FAR MORE POWERFUL hardware. Apart from the much more powerful new 16 cores CPU upgrade (which by the way is 4 times more, since old CPUs have only 4 cores), RAM memory on new servers is increased from 4 to 16 gigabytes, which is 4 times more too. We have also put RAID 10 (the fastest RAID option) on our semi dedicated servers and chose very fast hard drives to be put into the RAID.
At this point of choosing the hardware, we ran some stress tests on the server to see how it performs. Results were impressive. This is how we tested: we installed a default WordPress script and tried to access it as many times as possible within 60 seconds with 20 concurrent connections. On a normal semi-dedicated server this test resulted in something like 2000 requests being serviced for 60 seconds. On our new server hardware setup with heavily tuned software setup and kernel, the result was dramatically better – nearly 4000 requests came through for the same time, which means we almost doubled the loading speed of a simple WordPress site.
Although the results were more than pleasing, I wanted more. I’m known for not being easily pleased and I knew more performance could be extracted out of the hardware. After a bit of wondering what to do, we found the right answer – we’d put the MySQL databases onto an SSD drive. I’m guessing most of you know what SSD is, but for those who don’t – it’s a remarkable piece of technology for producing flash based hard drives. So basically an SSD is a Hard Drive, but without the moving parts and tens of times faster.
So we put an SSD drive to the server, put all the files of the WordPress install onto the RAID10 array, and put the MySQL database onto the SSD drive. Then we repeated our test. And the result was.. WOW. We almost hit 7000 requests in 60 seconds. This is nearly 4 times faster than our previous semi-dedicated setup. And to be honest with you, our previous setup was lightning fast too. We’ve taken the time to evaluate how other hosting companies perform on a test like that one and the result was rarely above 1000 requests being serviced in 60 seconds. Some did reach 1400, but most went around 500 or so.
So we’ve tested that hardware config for a bit over a month, to see if it’s worth it when it comes to reliability and we are starting to roll it out publicly. And when we’re finished with that, we will start adding some great features to it, like MEMCACHE, eAccelerator, CDN and even more. But I won’t spoil the surprise for you 🙂