question on hosting and memory

Chad Leigh -- Shire.Net LLC chad at
Thu Aug 4 05:39:55 GMT 2005

On Aug 3, 2005, at 11:27 PM, David Banning wrote:

> I am running apache 1.3 with php and I find when that for each person
> who visits the site, an additional 29 meg is consumed of my measly  
> 512M.
> Searching around, it seems like this is relatively normal.
> So here is my question. How do big-time servers handle these type of
> memory requirements? Presumably there are servers out there getting
> thousands of visitors at once. Do they have 29 Meg * 1000 for every
> thousand visitors? At what memory ceiling do they setup another server
> machine to handle the load? Wouldn't it require a ton of servers to  
> handle
> a load of a thousand visitors?

It all depends on what the PHP is doing.  On one server I run, the  
hold up is not memory, but actually processing 200 PHP scripts with  
db accesses at once, even with code acceleration products installed.

I have a dual athlon 2800+ system with 4GB of memory.  It can handle  
200-240 httpd processes (apache2) with PHP5 running the postnuke  
system and phpbb2 (postnuke version).  The memory is only half used  
but the system load starts to go sky high when we start to get much  
over 200 httpd, depending on what mix of modules people are using,  
when enough processes need to run at once.  The CPU is not pegged,  
but the run queue gets too long.

I am continuing to try and tune things and improve things, but so far  
this is about where we are at.  Before I put a code accelerator in  
(we have tested the commercial Zend one [and still are testing] but  
run with eaccelerator most of the time) we hit the wall much sooner.

(Note that the mysql DB is on another machine on the LAN).


> I am nowhere in this league, but the question comes to mind because it
> seems crazy that 20 visitors to my site can clog things up, simply  
> because
> I choose to run apache and php.
> I have been looking at lighttpd decrease memory usage, but I require
> url rewriting and I find the documentation for lighttpd is lacking
> is this area.
> Any comments or suggestions are welcome -
> -- 
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Chad Leigh -- Shire.Net LLC
Your Web App and Email hosting provider
chad at

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