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Getting the Most From Your Hardware - Administration

Squid is an excellent open source web caching proxy package, but it requires quite a lot of tuning to achieve the kind of performance seen in commercial proxies. This article presents several independently useful ideas for tuning a web cachingsystem. If all of them are implemented, extremely high performance can be achievedfrom modest hardware...

TABLE OF CONTENTS:
  1. High Performance Web Caching With Squid
  2. Getting the Most From Your Hardware
  3. Software Modifications
By: Joe Cooper
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September 11, 2000

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Squid can easily be crippled by disks that are not performing up to spec. Web caching is an "I/O bound" application, meaning that it can only go as fast as it gets the data onto and off of the storage media. So the first thing necessary is to ensure you have the right hardware for caching.

Hard Disks
You will need to use either 7200 RPM UDMA 66 drives or fast (7200 or 10k RPM) SCSI drives. A good UDMA 66 drive with the appropriate controller can perform nearly as well as a comparable SCSI drive for significantly less money. However, if you choose UDMA, keep in mind that the CPU will need to be slightly faster to make up for additional cycles used for I/O.

I've chosen for my system 2 Seagate Barracuda 13.6 GB 7200 RPM UDMA 66 hard disks. IBM and Maxtor also make excellent performing 7200 RPM drives. In my tests the Seagate edged out the Maxtor which edged out the IBM, each by a very small margin.

Processor
Squid in it's default configuration, as found in a default RPM or in a standard compile, does not need a very fast CPU to support 1 or 2 disks. However, a large performance boost can be achieved by using a threaded version of Squid. The threads will use a lot of CPU horsepower. So, if you are going to use threads as documented below, consider getting a rather fast processor. A 550MHz K6-2 is what I've chosen for my system. Something near that speed should be about right for a single or dual disk system.

RAM
It's pretty easy to calculate the amount of RAM needed for any given web cache. A safe number is 10MB RAM for every 1 GB of cache space on disk. I usually allot a little more than this when using a threaded Squid. Of course, you also need to figure out what your system uses for other things and subtract that from the total of available RAM. For my prototype unit I've chosen 256 MB.

Other Hardware
The other hardware is of very little importance. Any combination of high quality components should perform about the same in a web caching box.



 
 
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