Just as intense as the struggle between Netscape and Microsoft Explorer for browser market share is the struggle for search engine prominence. AltaVista is a top contender. "Horsepower specs" are transient virtues, but let me give you a few numbers (from The AltaVista Search Revolution, Osborne McGraw-Hill, 1997).
As of 2/17/97 they claim 31 million pages found on 476,000 servers, with 26 million searches on a weekday.
The query interface runs on three Digital Equipment Corp. AlphaStation 500/333s, each with 256Mb of RAM and 4Gb of hard disk.
The search core of AltaVista is a set of seven AlphaServer 8400 5/300 index servers, each with 10 (64-bit) processors, 6Gb of RAM, and 210Gb of hard disk in a RAID array. Each server holds a complete copy of the Web index, currently 40Gb and has a response time of less than a second.
"Scooter," the Web collection tool, runs on an AlphaServer 4100 with 1Gb of RAM and a 48Gb RAID array. It sends collected information to the indexing system, an AlphaServer 600 with 256Mb RAM, two processors and 1 Gb hard drive, which copies to the index servers.
("Quantity has a quality all its own." -- N. Krushchev)
Copyright ©1997 Peter J. Kindlmann