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I'm trying to decide between three different processors for my budget dedicated server. My web application downloads large text files and executes regular expressions/substrings/searches, etc on about a megabyte worth of text each time it is run.

For comparable monthly prices, I can get a dedicated server with any of these processors:

Single Core Pentium 4 2.4Ghz

Dual Core Pentium D 2.66Ghz

Dual Core AMD Athlon X2 3800

For a bit more I can get a Dual Core E3300 2.5Ghz Celeron if none of these are sufficient.

Which of the cheaper three is the best processor for the money? How much of a load can they handle?

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Is "none of the above" considered an acceptable answer? – Ignacio Vazquez-Abrams Aug 21 '10 at 3:17
up vote 0 down vote accepted

You absolutely want one of the dual cores for overall processor performance and lower task switching overhead. You also want to look closely at RAM. Not so much the speed of it, but more the amount, i.e. do you have enough RAM to avoid swapping.

Regarding the Pentium D and Athlon X2 you can find them compared in this processor chart from 2007. Just pick one of the CPU intensive benchmarks, f.x. Winrar file compression or PCMark05 CPU, and you'll get a feel for their relative speeds.

How much of a load can they handle?

There is only one way to tell, and you'll have to do it yourself: Benchmark your application, and then calculate which approximate load you can sustain for a given hardware configuration...

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I've never done any real benchmark testing before and I think it would be a great idea - do you know of any tutorials that could walk me through doing it correctly? – MarathonStudios Aug 21 '10 at 3:54
Mnn, not really. Since you wrote the application, you should know what to be on the lookout for. Just test it with some "most common" cases to get a feel for its speed, and then some "rare and potentialy problematic (fx very large)" data sets to get a feel for its worst-case performance. And run multiple concurrent requests, using f.x. HTTPerf. Looking at… , you seem to be in trouble -- takes 10-20 sec per request, that's problematic. – Jesper Mortensen Aug 21 '10 at 4:03
Most of the time delay is caused because all of the text is retrieved from remote servers (and I'm testing it on a DSL connection). I think this should be cut significantly with a fast connection on my dedicated. Since I download and process the data concurrently, I don't know exactly how I could measure what process takes what time. – MarathonStudios Aug 21 '10 at 4:14

Well the Pentium 4 is considerably less powerful than the rest, but otherwise this is going to be highly dependent on how your application is implemented. Additionally, searching through text is generally a memory intensive operation, not necessarily processor intensive. You might want to figure out which has the fastest RAM.

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That's what I thought as well, but there is a noticeable spike in processor use when I run the application. The only other thing that's being done is a few database connections. – MarathonStudios Aug 21 '10 at 3:57
The noticeable spike in the processor is more than likely the CPU blocking for RAM IO. It's probably not actually doing anything. – Chris S Aug 21 '10 at 23:44

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