Austin, TX & Santa Barbara, CA, February 2, 2005. Tenon and Macminicolo tested a low-end Mac mini to validate their claim that the Mac mini was a suitable web server platform for 80% of the web sites on the market. A $500 1.25Ghz Mac mini was easily able to handle 1000 hits per second, producing 20Mbs of data, more than half the performance of a $2000 dual-G5!
The tests measured the performance of a 1.25Ghz Mac mini compared to a 1.8Ghz dual-G5. Both servers were running Mac OS X 10.3.7 and the Apache 2.0.50 web server under iTools. The Mac mini had been outfitted with an extra 256MB of memory, otherwise the system was a stock release from Apple. The dual-G5 also had 512MB of memory and a 140GB disk - also a readily available stock Apple configuration for about $2145.
The measurement strategy was not to try to wring the last vestiges of performance out of each machine, but rather to produce a benchmark that everyone should be able to achieve. There were no special configurations or system tuning. Although it would have improved measurement results, no web page caching was employed. Instead the 100 Mbps network was generally quiescent. The Ethernet interfaces were configured to full-duplex. A modest amount of processor performance was still available, even while the tests were ongoing, to support normal system maintenance, ISP overhead, or other necessary activity common to an operational web server.
The Apache Bench (ab) application was used to generate and measure a synthetic HTTP traffic profile. The offered test client population was increased by using 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, and, finally, 32 simultaneous threads to make one million requests for a 2K file. The one million requests make up for any system anomalies. The increasing number of simultaneous requests was able to fully measure the performance of each machine; as 16 and 32 simultaneous clients were measured, the results peaked and then asymptotically declined.
The results are composed of the number of measured hits per second, the kilobytes per second of data transferred, and the number of simultaneous client threads, making a combined total of one million requests.
Mac mini: Clients Hits/Sec. Kbytes/Sec. 1 790 1598 2 900 1820 4 1065 2152 8 1239 2501 16 1132 2286 32 1038 2098 Dual-G5: Clients Hits/Sec. Kbytes/Sec. 1 889 1796 2 1452 2935 4 1882 3802 8 2174 4387 16 2140 4321 32 2148 4337
The Mac mini topped out at 1239 hits per second, yielding 2502 Kbytes/sec of data served, while the dual-G5 held up 2174 hits per second, yielding 4387 Kbytes/sec. It is probably that other testers will be able to produce improved hits per second from both machines, however most day-to-day installations will orbit around these performance levels.
While these figures aren't at the top end of the generally available ISP-class web server performance curve by any means, the economics of the Mac mini are such that for the first time ever there is a competitive Macintosh server able to handle more than 1000 hits per second yielding 20Mbits of data at a price that meets or beats much of the industry - and it all comes in an Apple package with their traditional emphasis on quality, style and Mac OS X's UI. A great little server for the rest of us!
Macminicolo.net, a subsidiary of Underwriter's Technologies, has been in the business of maintaining collocated Macs since its inception. Underwriter's Technologies is an Austin-based provider of internet services. The company was the Austin Business Journal's third larges web-hosting firm last year.
Founded in 1989, Tenon Intersystems is a leader in high-performance networking. Tenon technology has provided the framework for world-class networking on the Macintosh for over a decade. Tenon is continuing that tradition on Mac OS X. Tenon Intersystems can be reached in the U.S. at 805-963-6983, by the internet at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via the web at http://www.tenon.com