System Design

Latency numbers every programmer should know

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Latency Comparison Numbers
--------------------------
L1 cache reference                           0.5 ns
Branch mispredict                            5   ns
L2 cache reference                           7   ns                      14x L1 cache
Mutex lock/unlock                          100   ns
Main memory reference                      100   ns                      20x L2 cache, 200x L1 cache
Compress 1K bytes with Zippy            10,000   ns       10 us
Send 1 KB bytes over 1 Gbps network     10,000   ns       10 us
Read 4 KB randomly from SSD*           150,000   ns      150 us          ~1GB/sec SSD
Read 1 MB sequentially from memory     250,000   ns      250 us
Round trip within same datacenter      500,000   ns      500 us
Read 1 MB sequentially from SSD*     1,000,000   ns    1,000 us    1 ms  ~1GB/sec SSD, 4X memory
Disk seek                           10,000,000   ns   10,000 us   10 ms  20x datacenter roundtrip
Read 1 MB sequentially from 1 Gbps  10,000,000   ns   10,000 us   10 ms  40x memory, 10X SSD
Read 1 MB sequentially from disk    30,000,000   ns   30,000 us   30 ms 120x memory, 30X SSD
Send packet CA->Netherlands->CA    150,000,000   ns  150,000 us  150 ms

Notes
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1 ns = 10^-9 seconds
1 us = 10^-6 seconds = 1,000 ns
1 ms = 10^-3 seconds = 1,000 us = 1,000,000 ns

Handy metrics based on numbers above:

  • Read sequentially from disk at 30 MB/s
  • Read sequentially from 1 Gbps Ethernet at 100 MB/s
  • Read sequentially from SSD at 1 GB/s
  • Read sequentially from main memory at 4 GB/s
  • 6-7 world-wide round trips per second
  • 2,000 round trips per second within a data center

Latency numbers visualized

Source(s) and further reading

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