Tag Archives: Central processing unit

Choosing Colocation vs. Leasing Dedicated Servers & Landlord Appreciation – Part 3


Virtual Private Network site to site and from ...

As we learned in the first two parts of this miniseries comparing colocation to dedicated server leasing, the difference between the two is owning versus renting. You can’t always lease or rent a product. For instance, ice cream cones can only be rented in Arkansas, South Dakota, and Hawaii. Larger items such as cars or homes can be rented worldwide, though; the same is true of dedicated servers (colocation versus leasing).

We are assessing ideas pertaining to the debate between the two options from several advice sites, primarily Webhostingfreaks.net, ITworld, and About Colocation. We started with a general rundown of the differences between the two, then moved into stronger arguments. Both of the arguments, from the latter two sources above, side with colocation – which notably gives you more control but has additional upfront expense.

Our main concern is with web servers, but we also wanted to provide pluses and minuses related to home ownership and rental. Let’s explore the subject of pets with regards to housing. Pet owners love renting especially because it is an opportunity to prove to themselves how much they love their animals. If you can find the right landlord, you may be able to pay upwards of $1000 for security deposits for your two Irish setter-bloodhound-chihuahua-St. Bernard mutts. Your dogs don’t understand money, but that doesn’t mean they won’t chew through one of the walls or attack your appliances.
Continue reading Choosing Colocation vs. Leasing Dedicated Servers & Landlord Appreciation – Part 3

Using CloudFlare to protect and speed up your website & brain


Wow! If you run a forum you need Cloudflare - ...
Wow! If you run a forum you need Cloudflare - it cut my webserver CPU usage in half!

Speed: it’s crucial online. The rate at which a page loads is important both to keep customers happy and to keep them from leaving your site. However, your site’s speed is not just about UX (user experience) but about search engine rankings. That latter factor is becoming more and more important as the Google algorithm weighs it more heavily. Tumblr’s servers, for example, do not meet Google’s standards for speed.

Obviously the speed at which your site populates content depends on a mixture of diverse factors. For example, how many images do you have on your page? Are they compressed? What type of hardware are using (server, etc.)? Are there a lot of WordPress plugins on your site? Simple sites running off of great equipment load very quickly, and complex sites on clunky equipment don’t. However, there is a cheat.

CloudFlare is that cheat. It’s free. It makes your site faster. It makes it more difficult for spammers to harass you. It strengthens the security of your site. I know… It sounds implausible. In this three-part series, we will look at CloudFlare from a variety of different angles.
Continue reading Using CloudFlare to protect and speed up your website & brain

Anatomy of a server, Part 2


Wikimedia server e

We all know that server computers have hearts and minds just like we do (as well as lymphatic and endocrine systems in some cases). However, servers are of course more complex than that. This series on server anatomy gives us a window into the various component parts of the server. Knowing the server’s makeup can allow all us to perform life-saving treatments on all servers, such as transplants, and cosmetic procedures on soft-tissue servers, such as wrinkle-relaxation injections.

This series draws on commentary from Dummies.com (for the simple basis of Part 1) and Adam Turner of APC Magazine (for the more thorough analysis of Part 2). Along with discussing server components, today I will also discuss the three different major flavors of servers: tower, rack-mount, and blade.

Once we have completed our task of server explication, let’s all jump onboard a train hobo-style and ride the rails to West Virginia, where we can work all day in the coal mines for the next 30 years. After that, we will we will go to a revival and get inspired to live our dreams of becoming steamboat captains.

Flavors or Form Factors

Before getting to the insides, let’s look at the variety of different flavors available for servers. My favorite one is rocky road, but you have to keep it frozen so that it does not melt onto your fingers, which is highly embarrassing. Here are three additional options:

1. Tower server. These types of servers are for companies that only have one or two servers. A tower server resembles a computer typically found under a desk in an office (which some of us know as “the secret hiding place”), but it is made up of higher-end, more powerful materials.

Tower servers are designed for affordability. They are also easier to store if you only have one or two at a home or business.

2. Rack-mount server. This type of server is typically used within larger networks, and they are standardly used in data centers and hosting environments. These types of servers, of course, fit onto racks. The racks are stored either in secure rooms, controlled for factors such as temperature and humidity (likely with a portable air conditioner or two), or next to pizza ovens in Italian restaurants, controlled for factors such as not letting the dishwasher kick them.

The size of rack-mounts is standardized: their width is 19 inches, and their height is in increments of 1 3/4 inches. The height is discussed in terms of Rack Units (RUs), one RU corresponding to each 1 3/4 inch. Rack-mounts servers are typically designed for easy administration and adaptability.

3. Blade server. The blade server is designed for particularly intricate and powerful situations. The overall cooling, networking, and power for a number of different compact servers is provided by a single blade chassis. Constructing servers in this way allows them to be packed more tightly, optimizing the usage of space (the same reason that all 14 of my children sleep in the same bedroom, even though I am fabulously wealthy).

Next, more on …

Server Components

Processors or CPUs

Servers are primarily different from client computers (typical PCs) in their allowance for multiple sockets. Core 2 and Phenom are examples of processors for client computers. In those models, there is only one socket with a number of different cores. The additional sockets within a server allow additional processors – such as Xeon and Opteron models – to be connected, each with its own set of cores. It’s like a mutant apple that you can use to scare away organic farmers who are stalking you to sell you their offensively healthy non-GMO corn. Having more than one processor allows the server to “think” in various different places at one time, giving a server its powerful performance.

Cache is also enhanced, meaning that less data needs to be transferred to memory. Caching is nice because it increases processing speed as well.


The primary difference between server and client computers regarding memory is improved capacity for fault-tolerance. Memory controllers typically include the capacity for Error Checking and Correction (ECC). By checking any data going in or out of memory both before and after the transfer, corruption within the memory becomes less likely.

I personally don’t believe in information verification. I’ve got it all up here. (I’m pointing to the attic, where I store my unpublished and unauthorized biographies of America’s most beloved semi-professional bowlers.)

Storage Controllers

Storage controllers are significantly different between clients and servers. Rather than needing the processor to cycle for every data transfer, the storage controllers in servers contain application-specific integrated circuits (ASICs) along with a massive amount of cache. These two advantages allow storage performance to go far beyond that of a typical PC, approximating the power of 7.8 billion digital watches (give or take).

Some storage controllers contain Battery Backup Units (BBUs). BBUs can hold information in the cache for more than 48 hours without a power supply.

External Storage

A server, like any computer, has a built-in limitation: it is only physically capable of supporting a certain number of drives. However, Storage Area Networks (SANs) can be used to increase storage capacity. SAN functionality can be accomplished via iSCSI interfaces or fiber channels.

Conclusion & Postlude

(Please hire a professional tap-dancer and barbershop quartet soloist to perform “Yankee Doodle Dandy” at your side while you read these final thoughts.) That should give you a basic idea of what’s inside a server and how it’s different from a typical PC. As you can see, the server is similar in many ways to a consumer or client computer. However, they are enhanced in various ways to meet the extensive storage, performance, and networking needs of business.

By the by… Did you know that we offer dedicated servers and colocation? Well, we do.

By Kent Roberts

Anatomy of a Server, Part 1

Traditional server

Beyond eyeballs, livers, and vascular systems, many of us are unaware of the core components of a server. Let’s talk a little bit in this post about what makes up the anatomy of a server. That way, you can grow up, become a server anatomist, and make your parents proud and your ex-boyfriend insanely jealous of your success.

To better understand servers, let’s turn to perspectives from Dummies.com and Adam Turner of APC Magazine. Then let’s all go out to tire swing, get an injection of vitamin D, and remember why Grandpa Tom told us never to use the tire swing or that he’d cut us out of the will.

This first part of my award-winning (always call your shots) series on server anatomy will focus on the more basic Dummies assessment. The APC Magazine explication, a more detailed look into servers, will be covered in the second installment.

Basic Server Parts

Servers are not completely their own beast. They are, rather, a type of computer. Like software that uses the Internet, computers come in “client” and “server” varieties. Hence, servers have a lot of similarities to typical PCs. On the other hand, they are made up of more expensive and sophisticated machinery than is a standard computer. Plus, they have funky hood ornaments that you will often see IT criminals wearing on gaudy necklaces.


Servers come from single-parent households. They have a motherboard, but not a fatherboard. The motherboard is the board on which the electronic circuits are stored. Everything else within the server connects to the motherboard. Remember to always call your motherboard on her birthday, or you will get a tongue-lashing.

Within the motherboard are several server pieces worth mentioning: the processor (a.k.a. CPU), chipset, hard drive controller, expansion slots, memory, and ports to support the usage of external devices such as keyboards and hairdryers. Additionally, motherboards may contain a network interface, disk controller, and graphics adapter. If that’s not true of your motherboard, call the police and move to Prince Edward Island.


The processor is where the “thinking” of the server goes on. Processors, such as those made by Intel and Hasbro, are generally the primary concern of individuals looking to purchase servers (along with server hair color and jaw line).

Specific motherboards only work with specific kinds of CPUs. The processor can be slot-mounted or socket-mounted. There are varieties of sockets and slots, so it’s important that the processor fit the motherboard. If not, you can always use the innovative “jam it in” method developed by Bill Gates (the first step in amassing his fortune). Some varieties of motherboards can have additional processors connected. The gaming computer’s functioning is mostly dependent on processor and motherboards compatibility. In that case, the computer can give the utmost efficient performance. (To learn more about gaming computers, you can check out the post right here.)

Clock speed refers to the speed of the timekeeper within the processor. Clock speed will only give you a sense of speed within processors of the same general group. The reason for this is that newly developed processor types have more sophisticated circuits, meaning additional performance can occur even if clock speed is identical. Note that if clock speed surpasses light speed, time starts to move in reverse.

The quantity of processor cores impacts the performance of the server as well. Typical servers contain chips that are dual-core, quad-core, or salt & vinegar. Any individual core functions individually as a processor. Beware: once you pop a processor core, you can’t stop. It’s both horrifying and delicious.


You don’t want your server to forget stuff, so memory is of the utmost importance. The memory, like the CPU, must be compatible with the motherboard. The motherboard determines how much memory can fit within the server. It really does think it’s in charge. When it’s not looking, climb out the window and run away to Poughkeepsie (unless you have already moved into a studio apartment in Prince Edward Island).

Hard drives

Often a client computer uses an IDE drive. A server, on the other hand, frequently contains an SCSI drive. To optimize a server, it’s good to pair the drive with a controller card. An example of a controller card is the ace of spades (Gates’ “jam it in” method also comes in handy here).

SATA drives are also used both in servers and clients. These drives are a newer development and are frightening to the other drives. They listen to loud rock ‘n roll music, and strange smells emerge from their bedrooms.

Network connection

Often a server will have a network adapter as a part of the motherboard. If not, a network adapter card is used. Networking, as we know, allows us to catch fish without having to use polls or spears.


Generally speaking, you do not need a high-end video card for your server. The monitor and video card will not change the power of the network, whereas getting your friends and family to buy your Amway products will empower your network so that you can live your dreams.

Power supply

As you can imagine, you need a good power supply, especially if the server contains a good quantity of hard drives. Many servers come with windmills and bicycle pedals so that college interns can ride the server and blow on the windmill simultaneously.

Conclusion & Postlude

(Please lock all four of the deadbolts and turn up “The End” by The Doors to full volume while reading these final comments.) That should give you a basic sense of the parts of a server. In the second and final installment of this series, we will get into more depth on the subject, making sure not to get in over our heads and have to summon the lifeguard.

Oh, hey… Don’t leave yet, I have something in the other room to show you: dedicated servers and colocation.

By Kent Roberts