This Rocket ship just got a whole lot faster!

This Rocket ship just got a whole lot faster!

When we launched Rocket.net, we set out to create the world’s fastest, most secure, and easiest to use platform on the planet. While we’ve always used Enterprise hardware behind our Cloudflare Enterprise edge setup, I’m excited to share that we’ve made some major improvements to further enhance performance on Rocket.net.

Initial deployment and testing

When we initially launched Rocket.net, we used the following Enterprise server configuration:

2 x Intel(R) Xeon(R) CPU E5-2667 v2 @ 3.30GHz (32 Cores)
128GB RAM
RAIDED SSD Hard Drives

Now, since the beginning, we’ve constantly been benchmarking our platform vs the competition and cloud platforms in general.

Using common methods available on the web, we started to compare things ranging from CPU utilization, to disk speed.

Here is an example of our READS and WRITES on the Gen 1 Rocket.net configuration directly hitting the filesystem:

Write Speed
1024+0 records in
1024+0 records out
1073741824 bytes (1.1 GB) copied, 5.11571 s, 210 MB/s

Read Speed
1024+0 records in
1024+0 records out
1073741824 bytes (1.1 GB) copied, 0.340014 s, 3.2 GB/s

WP Benchmark Plugin Results

Now, the above write speed may seem low, but generally speaking hosting is majority reads vs write. With our server fleet only seeing 5-10% of traffic total, we were still light years ahead of the competition… at least we thought.

Time to get some external testing!

While we thought we performed extremely well compared to the rest, we really needed to have an unbiased third party take a crack at testing the platform.

About 8 months ago, we decided to partake in the world-renowned speed tests held by Kevin Ohashi and Reviewsignal.com. Now, your first thought may be “they’re just trying to use Reviewsigal’s report to sell more WordPress hosting”… but I can assure you it’s much more than that for us.

I’ve always said, at Rocket.net we’re never “done” when it comes to our performance and security. When we launched over one year ago, according to our customers we had the fastest WordPress hosting on the planet…. almost.

When it comes to running static websites, we have a 90-98% cache hit ratio on Cloudflare, but we all know not all websites are static. We still have some incredible cache hit ratios for dynamic sites like WooCommerce, as well as great server performance, but great just doesn’t cut it for me.

After receiving Top Tier status in Kevin’s tests (https://wphostingbenchmarks.com/company/rocket-net/), we were able to really dive into where we still fell short against the rest on server-side performance.

Time for the next hardware generation at Rocket!

After analyzing the test results, everything aligned perfectly with our previous findings. Our bottleneck was not CPU or RAM… but it was disk I/O! This means 5-10% of our traffic (aka dynamic requests) were receiving a subpar experience, while the static websites were receiving the best experience.

We had two options:

Add more SSD’s and change our RAID configuration
or
Switch to NVMe drives

So we got to work and did some testing. As I’m sure you already know, the winner by far was NVMe. With the same CPU and RAM configuration, we were able to achieve the following results:

Write Speed
1024+0 records in
1024+0 records out
1073741824 bytes (1.1 GB) copied, 0.685464 s, 1.6 GB/s

Read Speed
1024+0 records in
1024+0 records out
1073741824 bytes (1.1 GB) copied, 0.160424 s, 6.7 GB/s

WP Benchmark Plugin Results

As you can see above, we had a 661% increase in write speed and a 109% increase in read speed directly on the filesystem. When in came to the WP Benchmark tests, we saw:

1152.54% increase in File System Write Ability
1331.25% increase in Small file IO test
8.7% increase in Local file copy and access speed (expected because of the RAID on both setups)
1.7 second faster Importing large amount of data to database

Now, the above numbers may not seem all that impressive for NVMe storage when it comes to the direct file system results, but there’s a reason for that.

We have our NVMe drives setup in a RAID configuration to ensure maximum reliability and we also have real-time malware scanning happening on every single file write to the system as well as every single PHP request.

Based on these results, we’re able to provide a MAJOR improvement to our disk performance when it comes to PHP and WordPress.

What’s next?

We’ll be rolling out the Gen 2 configurations in every location as we continue to add capacity. In the mean-time, if you would like to test the NVMe storage, you can do so by deploying your sites in our Atlanta location.

Keep in mind, if your site is a static website, it’s unlikely that you’ll notice a difference in performance. This improvement is really meant for highly dynamic sites like WooCommerce, Learndash, and any other sites requiring dynamic requests.