Can someone point me to recent benchmarks on the two? Also more info about G-WAN would be nice, since up until now I never heard about it. I need the fastest server for static files.
closed as off topic by Bart De Vos, Khaled, Ward, devicenull, dunxd May 5 '12 at 23:46
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This link states that G-WAN can scale better than nginx and it can benefit more from multi-core CPUs and uses less resources. You can have a look at the architecture and performance sections.
In my opinion, I recommend you to install anyone of them and do your own benchmarks on your estimated/expected loads.
This comparative test (G-WAN vs Nginx) was done by an Academic expert of distributde architectures.
This is the very same test used by Phoronix, the official multi-OS benchmark.
My 2 cents: set up and test with local wgets or other scripted http requesting that either discard the downloaded files or dump them on a RAM disk (make sure you do not make the OS page out the RAM disk).
Experience values: on modern hardware, nginx will saturate a Gigabit link EASILY with multi-MB files. So could aio-era lighttpd, which is discontinued and insecure by now, sadly.
You might be either building a CDN, or be well advised to seek the services of one, if static file speed is still an issue nowadays (kilobyte sized files with completely random, non concentrated access patterns might be another issue...)
The architectural philosophy you are looking for in the "fastest static file server" is called "zero copy".