UNIX Internet servers with an event-driven architecture often perform poorly under real workloads, even if they perform well under laboratory benchmarking conditions. We investigated the poor performance of event-driven servers. We found that the delays typical in wide-area networks cause busy servers to manage a large number of simultaneous connections. We also observed that the select system call implementation in most UNIX kernels scales poorly with the number of connections being managed by a process. The UNIX algorithm for allocating file descriptors also scales poorly. These algorithmic problems lead directly to the poor performance of event-driven servers.
We implemented scalable versions of the select system call and the descriptor allocation algorithm. This led to an improvement of up to 58% in Web proxy and Web server throughput, and dramatically improved the scalability of the system.