Bad performance of nginx with Tomcat vs. Apache with Tomcat

Chang Song changsong at
Thu Sep 3 08:50:44 MSD 2009

Sometime ago, I posted an message about Nginx performance when paired  
with Tomcat.
We recently did extensive in-house testing of various workload against  
Nginx with Tomcat vs Apache vs Tomcat.

Apache wins hands down.

Here's the basic setup

1. Nginx (2 proc/8192 connections) -> http/1.0 -> Tomcat (HTTP  
2. Apache (512 prefork) -> AJP -> Tomcat (AJP)

Both KeepAlive off (we don't use KeepAlive due to L4 switch)

The physical server is 2 core Intel Xeon, which is typical web server  
config here.
We have three grinder 3.2 load generators.
We tested 4K and 20K Tomcat simple HTML file, 20K simple HTML with  
intentional 10% 200ms
sleep in Tomcat serving (emulate slow DB query), etc.

Every single case, Apache wins by at least 10-15%.
Throughput and response time.
Nginx uses a bit less CPU cycles (10-20%), but it is not able drive  
Tomcat to 100% CPU.

Here's my take on this performance problem.

1. Lack of AJP support, which is an optimized HTTP protocol
    First of all, this is a serious bottleneck.

    * AJP has much less communication overhead than HTTP

2. Lack of HTTP KeepAlive support for proxy

    * Lack of AJP may be compensated with HTTP keepalive support since  
there are
      at least twice the number of TIME_WAIT sockets (connection  
establishment mean time
      is at least twice - three times slower than that of Apache)

3. Lack of connection pooling

    * Ey-balancer makes things a bit easier, response times are  
stable, but still the same
      average TPS and response time.

4. There seems to be a huge bug in connection management code

    Two mix of transactions: 20K HTML serving and 8K HTML with  
intentional 200ms delay in Tomcat logic

    With Apache, 20K HTML serving took  36 ms on average while 8K HTML  
took 258 ms
    With Nginx,  20K HTML serving took 600 ms on average while 8K HTML  
took 817 ms

    I really cannot explain these difference. Not even TCP connection  
overhead or lack of AJP.

My questions is "should I abandon nginx at this point"?
I know nginx is great proxy and static file server but I cannot prove  
my point with Tomcat over and over again.

Thank you


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