As the oldest fox working at Double Fox Websites I’ve seen a few things over the years that have dismayed me. I first started programming during a time where Moore’s Law (the idea that computer processors would double in performance approximately every two years) was more a prediction than an empirical fact and as such my early years in computing were heavily focused on efficiency and performance and only then on functionality. Many programmers born in the last 30 years have factored in Moore’s Law and just assumed things would get faster. This held basically true from around 1975 – 2012.
But then Cloud Computing came along to change everything.
If you look at the clock rate of many modern cloud servers they will be in the range 2-2.5 Ghz. This is much lower than the clock rate of the previous decade of 3-4 Ghz. Now, although clock rate is not the only measure, particularly when you compare different chip architectures, it is still very useful when you compare it against the same chip families. So if you are using an Intel Xeon chip at 2.4 vs 3.4 Ghz there is a very good chance the latter will be a lot faster for raw performance.
Why did this change happen? Well the problem with faster chips is they generate a lot of heat which need bigger fans and heat syncs to keep cool. But you can produce chips with many more cores at lower rates and package them into the same space for less money and less heat. Now factor in the huge rise in demand for basic computing power thanks to the exponential growth of Cloud Computing and you find that most people don’t care about the high clock rates because for many cloud applications 2 Ghz is plenty. And because they were so cheap many of the cloud vendors started using large servers with often 100’s of cores at much lower rates. Most people were happy because their blogs didn’t need too much power.
However, for those processor hungry applications, such as eCommerce you could see a real drop in performance. This is why at Double Fox we continue to use dedicated servers with far fewer cores and faster clock rates of 3.4 Ghz and above. We love the cloud but don’t want to compromise the performance of our websites to save a few bucks, and our clients clients appreciate the difference.