Benchmark of Node.js Cluster Synchronous execution versus Asynchronous I/O
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serverAsync.js Merge branch 'master' of… Dec 16, 2017
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Benchmark Comparing Asynchronous Execution to Serial Execution in a Parallel Context

Asynchronous event-driven programming is at the heart of Node.js, however it is also the root cause of Callback Hell. The purpose of asynchronous execution is to overlap computation with communication and I/O, which can be achieved in other ways.

Description of Benchmark

A rudimentary web server is implemented four times:

  • Async callback file I/O
  • Synchronous file I/O
  • Async callback file I/O and multiple 'cluster' servers
  • Synchronous file I/O and multiple 'cluster' servers

A GET request to the server returns the contents of the requested file, POSTed data is write-appended to the requested file at path defined by config.dataPath.

There is one client program that is used to benchmark the server programs. The client generates config.readsPerWrite many GET requests for each POST request, receiving a response for each request before proceeding to the next. The config.nFiles are read or appended to in round-robin order. The time of each operation is measured and the minimum, maximum, total execution time, and number of operations are logged.

A GET request first reads the file, using the string config.sortSplitString splits the file's contents into a list, sorts that list, concatenates the list into a string, and then returns the sorted results. Choosing a config.sortSplitString not found in the file minimizes the amount of compute work per request, using a null string ('') maximizes the amount of compute work per request.

Running the benchmark

The config.json is used by both servers the client processes, it specifies all the parameters of the experiment to be performed.

  "dataPath" : "/tmp/Data/",   // Path to data files
  "readsPerWrite" : 10,        // Number of reads performed for each write operations
  "value" : "This is text that is appended to the file",
  "sortSplitString" : "This is text that is",  // Governs number of elements to be sorted
  "nFiles"  : 30,              // Number of different files
  "nOperations": 10000,        // Total number of read and write operations 
  "nServers" : 5,              // Sync only: number of processes to fork
  "nClients" : 5,              // Number of concurrent client processes making requests
  "serverHostname" : "localhost",
  "serverPort" : 8100

The server and client are started separately, for example:

node serverSync.js &   # Start the synchronous server in the background
node client            # Run the experiment

A script to run a parameter-sweep benchmark, varying the number of clients and servers:


Upon completion the client outputs a CSV file that can be imported into a spreadsheet and rendered as a Candlestick Chart showing the range of performance (min and max time for any single request), as well as the average of all the operations. The timings are in microseconds.

PUT/GET, Min, Mean, 101% of Mean, Max
PUT process 4, 1346.1969604492188, 2441.530764401614, 2465.94607204563, 7250.4439697265625
GET process 4, 1063.0139770507812, 2313.1135800805423, 2336.244715881348, 54835.06396484375
PUT process 2, 1634.1809692382812, 2434.181318010603, 2458.5231311907087, 6623.343017578125
GET process 2, 1221.9420166015625, 2321.444990135, 2344.65944003635, 54996.54602050781
PUT process 1, 1464.7319946289062, 2501.2274880880836, 2526.2397629689644, 23142.98602294922
GET process 1, 1039.89599609375, 2317.8814424991083, 2341.0602569240996, 55010.34503173828
PUT process 3, 1378.7010498046875, 2403.0054156963643, 2427.035469853328, 5370.8470458984375
GET process 3, 1087.3759765625, 2334.550022272125, 2357.895522494846, 54824.252014160156
PUT process 5, 1311.260986328125, 2435.731684087397, 2460.0890009282707, 10563.859985351562
GET process 5, 932.0089721679688, 2321.715999993554, 2344.9331599934894, 54723.63000488281

NOTE: The "101% of Mean" gives a non-zero width to the mean. In a Candlestick Chart, the mean is a range, this causes the range (width) of the mean to be 1% of the total range, making it visible.

Example Results

Total Execution Time for 200,000 Requests

Total execution time to perform 140,000 GET, and 60,000 PUT operations. The overhead of scheduling asynchronous tasks makes the conventional async execution model slower than synchronous execution in practically all cases. A nearly 10x speedup is achieved with only 4 server processes due to the combine benefits of multi-core execution and reduced scheduling overhead.

Latency of Asynchronous Server

Minimum, maximum, and average latencies measured by the 32 client processes. Average latency is ~5 seconds for write-append PUTs, and ~6 seconds to read, process, and respond to GET requests.

Latency of Asynchronous Server

Average latency is approximately 1/10th of the asynchronous server, corresponding to the nearly 10x total execution time difference. Worst-case latency for PUTs is about half that of the asynchronous server.


This program is published under the revised BSD license. Other commercial licenses may be arranged with the author (