Sphinx aka Trigger’s Broom

November 7th, 2013 by

Last night we quietly upgraded the disks in our Sphinx shell server to a pair of SSD drives. Sphinx has been suffering under heavy I/O load for a while now, and it’s safe to say that the SSDs have resolved that problem for the foreseeable future.

The upgrade was without downtime, using the magic of LVM’s pvmove command.

It’s been upgraded with a pair of fiendishly expensive server-grade SSDs. We’re not normally ones to pay too much attention to whether kit is designated as “server-grade” but in the case of SSDs it really matters due to the limited number of write cycles on SSDs. The new disks are good for 8TB of writes per day for 5 years, whereas the equivalent consumer grade version is only rated for 20GB/day, which wouldn’t last very long in Sphinx.

Sphinx has a special place in our hearts as it’s the machine on which the company was founded nearly 14 years ago, and it’s been in pretty much continuous service ever since. Of course, the current hardware has absolutely nothing in common with the dual Celeron BP6 that we deposited in a Fulham datacentre back in 2000, and it now lives in Docklands, but it’s still the same machine (right?) which is why it still says:

[pdw@sphinx ~]$ rpm -q redhat-release

(don’t worry, that’s probably the only package from RH 6.1 that we’re still using…)