Improve Magento’s speed using RAM drives

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Improve Magento’s speed using RAM drives

Wikipedia explains very well what RAM drives are and we all know that SSD are fast reading but have issues with endurance

There’s a myriad of options and possibilities that one could do to improve Magento’s performance and adding a different one to the mix doesn’t really hurt, right?
In all systems (confirmation required) you can use /dev/shm, this example is mainly if you want to keep your data separated and mounted in a specific place or give your mount point an specific name.

If anything using /dev/shm is recommended but keep in mind that you’d have to mount it the same way for Magento to use it as it will search for the var directory.

Let’s get down to it, I am using FreeBSD now so let’s start the experiment with it:

FreeBSD, this requires sudo:

/sbin/mdmfs -M -S -o async -s 4096m md0 magento_var_folder_path
/bin/chmod 777 magento_var_folder

To remove the mount:

/sbin/umount -f magento_var_folder_path
/sbin/mdconfig -d -u 0

So in my case I just did the following:

cd /usr/home/ltineo/www/m/mage
sudo mdmfs -M -S -o async -s 4096m md0 var
sudo chmod 777 var

The Syntax for Ubuntu:

 $ sudo mount -t tmpfs -o size=512M,mode=777 tmpfs magento_var_folder_path 

My computer setup:

OS:              FreeBSD 9.1
WebServer:       Apache 2.2
Database Server: Mysql 5.5
Memcache:        no
Memory:          12GB of Ram
CPU:             I7 @ 3.4GHz
Architecture:    64bits
Solr:            enabled
Magento:         Enterprise
Local modules:   No
Caching:         Regular and FPC enabled

So why whould you bother doing this, if the cache will be volatile and upon reboot you are starting up in cold?

Let’s take a look at the numbers:

The siege file can be found here

 siege -t1m -c100 -b -i -f 



 Transactions:              102 hits
 Availability:              53.12 %
 Elapsed time:              59.38 secs
 Data transferred:          6.23 MB
 Response time:             9.99 secs
 Transaction rate:          1.72 trans/sec
 Throughput:                0.10 MB/sec
 Concurrency:               17.17
 Successful transactions:   102
 Failed transactions:       90
 Longest transaction:       30.30
 Shortest transaction:      0.00


 Transactions:              914 hits
 Availability:              100.00 %
 Elapsed time:              59.25 secs
 Data transferred:          58.18 MB
 Response time:             6.04 secs
 Transaction rate:          15.43 trans/sec
 Throughput:                0.98 MB/sec
 Concurrency:               93.17
 Successful transactions:   914
 Failed transactions:       0
 Longest transaction:       28.76
 Shortest transaction:      0.05



 Transactions:              798 hits
 Availability:              100.00 %
 Elapsed time:              59.23 secs
 Data transferred:          50.52 MB
 Response time:             6.90 secs
 Transaction rate:          13.47
 trans/sec Throughput:      0.85 MB/sec
 Concurrency:               93.01
 Successful transactions:   798
 Failed transactions:       0
 Longest transaction:       23.83
 Shortest transaction:      0.18


 Transactions:              940 hits
 Availability:              100.00 %
 Elapsed time:              59.78 secs
 Data transferred:          61.33 MB
 Response time:             5.93 secs
 Transaction rate:          15.72 trans/sec
 Throughput:                1.03 MB/sec
 Concurrency:               93.19
 Successful transactions:   940
 Failed transactions:       0
 Longest transaction:       18.66
 Shortest transaction:      0.15

So as you can see running Magento on cold on a RAM drive was almost as good as running it on a cached regular drive.

Of course I’d never suggest to use this over something like REDIS but if you have a load balancer using a NFS RAM Drive share might not be a bad idea if you are using Memcache.

The main benefit of course is that the longest transaction on the ram drive without cache is shorter than the longest transaction on a regular drive with cache enabled by a lot!

Granted it would be a good idea to further this research with a more robust test for to obtain both qualitative and quantitative results

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Author: Luis Tineo

Husband, Father, performance improvement junkie, biker and video gamer, Linux user and in my day job I'm a Systems Architect at Blue Acorn.

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