In the first part of our effort to speed up our buildbox, we replaced the spindle harddisk with a Solid State Disk (SSD) and finally, a RAM disk. This brought the build time down from 03:30 minutes to 02:50 minutes.
The Central Performance Unit
The next step on our journey to a faster buildbox was to replace the processor. Our initial processor was an Intel Core2 Duo E6750 with 2.67 GHz. To our pleasure, the processor socket, namely the LGA775 socket, is extremely versatile in supporting different processors. We had no problem in plugging in faster dual or even quad core processors, except upgrading the BIOS.
Taking the 3 GHz mark
The next processor to try out was an Intel Core2 Duo E8500 with 3.17 GHz operating frequency. The L2 cache went up from 4 MB to 6 MB.
The build time went down immediately from 02:50 minutes to 02:20 minutes. That’s nearly 20 percent less build time. And it’s perfectly linear with the CPU speed increase (also nearly 20 percent).
As a result: Investing in CPU clock power seems to pay off. The higher the frequency, the lower the build time.
Doubling the cores
Fortunately, the LGA775 socket supports quad core processors, too. We plugged in a Core2 Quad Q9550 with 2.8 GHz and ran the build again.
The result was astonishing: Despite the lower frequency, the build time dropped from 02:20 minutes to 02:00 minutes. We can’t really explain this one with basic math like the frequency coupling of the dual cores.
If your build is perfectly multithreaded, something javac isn’t, you’ll notice an even bigger speedup.
To sum it up: you can’t have enough GHz or processor cores when running a build.
Reviewing the result
We replaced the harddisk with RAM and upgraded the processor to meet the current performance threshold. This brought us from a starting 03:30 minutes build time to 02:00 minutes now. The CPU is the major player in this game, so upgrade it first.
Outlook on the third part
But what about the RAM? We really wanted to know what happens when we replace the RAM with bigger and faster one. Read more about this experiment in the third part of the series, coming soon.
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