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Response Time Effects

To measure server latency characteristics on disk-bound workloads and show the impact of the underlying blocking problems, we run the servers with request rates of 20%, 40%, 60%, 80%, 90%, and 95% of their respective infinite-demand rates. The results, shown in Figures 4 and 5, show some interesting trends. While the general shape of the mean response curves is not surprising, some important differences emerge when examining the others. Apache's median latency curve is much flatter, but rises slightly at the 0.95 load level (95% of the infinite-demand rate). The mean latency for Apache becomes noticeably worse at that level, with a value comparable to that of Flash, while Apache's latency for the $95^{th}$ percentile grows sharply.

Figure 8: Median and mean latencies of Apache and Flash with various data set sizes

Some insight into the latency degradation for these servers can be gained by examining the spread of request latencies at the various load levels, shown in Figures 6 and 7. Both servers exhibit latency degradation as the server load approaches infinite demand, with the median value rising over one hundred times. Two features which appear to be related to the server architecture and blocking effects are immediately apparent - the relative smoothness of the Flash curves, and the seemingly lower degradation for Apache at or below load levels of 0.95. By multiplexing all client connections through a single process, the Flash server introduces some batching effects, particularly when blocking occurs. This batching causes even the fastest responses to be delayed. As a result, Flash returns very few responses in less than 10ms when the load exceeds 95%, whereas Apache still delivers over 60% of its responses within that time. We believe that under low lock contention, Apache's multiple processes allow in-memory requests to be serviced very quickly without interference from other requests. At higher loads, locking becomes more significant, and only 18% of requests can be served within 10ms.

However, this portion of the CDF does not explain Apache's worse mean response times, for which the explanation can be seen in the tail of the CDFs. Though Apache is generally better in producing quick responses under load, latencies beyond the $95^{th}$ percentile grow sharply, and these values are responsible for Apache's worse mean response times. Given the slow speed of disk access, these tails seem to be disk-related rather than purely queuing effects. Given the high cost of disk access versus memory speeds, these tails dominate the mean response time calculations.

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Next: Response Time vs. Data Up: Blocking in Web Servers Previous: Causes of Blocking
Yaoping Ruan