WSGI Web Servers Bench

Circus is now able to bind and manage sockets, and in cunjunction with Chaussette you can run a full web stack behind your favorite Web Server (Nginx, Apache etc.) -- read more about Circus stacks here.

In other words, Circus can spawn as many Chaussette processes as you want, each one will act as a web worker: they'll all accept requests on the same socket.

Why would you want to do this? Because it's much simpler to manage your web workers in the same tool than the other processes you might have in your Web stack. (Redis, memcached. etc).

From the Web UI or from the command line, you can drive your stack at your finger tips. Adding or removing workers live, seeing the load of each involved process, getting a real time graph of socket hits. etc.

But of course all of this would be meaningless if Circus was making things slower than our current Web Stack -- Gunicorn behind Nginx.

So I did a few benches and this blog post is the results of my benches.

tl;dr: Circus + Chaussette + [gevent.pywsgi | meinheld] is fast and stable, we will gain a very slight speed bump by moving away from Gunicorn, and gain a lot of features. Good to go!


Publishing a bench often leads to a flamewar because it's super hard to do it in a fair and proper way. I tried my best in the amount of time I wanted to spend on this. So if you see anything that seems wrong, let me know!

I'd be happy to rework things.

The benched app

I did not want to bench an Hello World because this is meanlingless. If your server is great at Hello Worlds, maybe it will collapse on a real application because it can keep up with requests filling the backlog.

I did not want either to have variations because of a third party application I'd call from the benched app, like a database.

So what I did is create an application that does three things:

  • do some maths to eat the CPU a little bit
  • sleep for 100 ms
  • write some data in a file

The whole response is back in about 200 ms, and I guess that makes the benched app realistic enough. It does a bit of I/O and a (smaller) bit of CPU.

The code:

import os, time, tempfile

def bench_app(environ, start_response):
    start = time.time()
    status = '200 OK'
    headers = [('Content-type', 'text/plain')]
    start_response(status, headers)

    for i in range(10000):
        10 * 1000 * 1000
    fd, path = tempfile.mkstemp()
    for i in range(10000):
        os.write(fd, str(i))
    return ['%.4f' % (time.time() - start)]

The code is located at

And if you install Chaussette, you can use that app in your favorite WSGI server by plugging chaussette.util.bench_app.

This app is executed with Chaussette 0.1 and the trunk of Circus, using this config:

check_delay = 5
endpoint = tcp://
pubsub_endpoint = tcp://
stats_endpoint = tcp://

cmd = bin/chaussette --fd $( --backend fastgevent chaussette.util.bench_app

use_sockets = True
warmup_delay = 0
numprocesses = 50

host =
port = 8080

Here, Circus bind the port 8080 port and runs 50 workers using the fastgevent backend.

The backends I am trying during these benches:

  • gevent - based on Gevent's pywsgi server
  • fastgevent - based on Gevent's wsgi server - supposedly faster but does not support streaming.
  • meinheld - based on Meinheld's C-based server

On Gunicorn side, I am using only the gevent backend, since this is the one we currently use for all our apps and run the app like this:

$ gunicorn -w 50 -k gevent -t 120 chaussette.util:bench_app

Notice that I had to bump the workers timeout a bit otherwise I was starting to get errrors on high loads.

Also: Circus and Gunicorn both have a socket backlog of 2048.

The Test

I used Funkload because it's the best tool I know to do these things. It spits cool graphs, so I don't have to worry about plotting my data after the test.

The test is dead simple:

from funkload.FunkLoadTestCase import FunkLoadTestCase

class Bench(FunkLoadTestCase):
    def setUp(self):
        self.root = self.conf_get('main', 'url')

    def test_simple(self):
        res = self.get(self.root)
        self.assertEquals(res.code, 200)

Yeah, that's all. I am hammering the server root URL and make sure I get a 200 back.

The full code is at

The test was done with 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, 300 and 400 virtual users and each time during 120 seconds. In Funkload, virtual users are concurrent threads the tool launches to do the benching.

The hardware

Hahaha. That's the sweet part. Don't ask me how/who/where but I did my bench on two 24-cores boxes with a indecent amount of RAM.

I am not event going to talk about tweaking the system, or mention the RAM - Just that I made sure the web server had enough FDs to be happy, and that I used a single Funkload node to send the load.

So, each test is about running 50 workers in Circus, or in Gunicorn, with a various amount of concurrent requests and see how things go.

The results

For each run, I am getting two graphs:

  • The number of Requests Per Second (RPS) successful or not over Concurrent Users (CUs).
  • The Duration of each request (Duration) over Concurrent Users (CUs).

The first graph gives the raw RPS evolving over the load, and the second one has more interesting information:

  • avg: Average response time for a page or request.
  • med: Median or 50th percentile, response time where half of pages or requests are delivered.
  • p90/p95 - 90th percentile, response time where 90 percent of pages or requests are delivered. - 95th percentile, response time where 95 percent of pages or requests are delivered
  • min/p10 - Minimum response time for a page or request. - 10th percentile, response time where 10 percent of pages or requests are delivered.

Gunicorn + gevent

The RPS seems cahotic, but not really, that's just a graph scaling effect. For every step, the system did a RPS between 14 and 14.25, which is very stable.

The Duration is growing steadily, but we can see that the delta is also growing bigger.

At 400 CUs, the fastest response remains almost unchanged, but the slowest one is like almost a minute.

Two things:

  • the benched application does not use any socket, so Gevent is not really going any async work. But that's very realistic for our apps. We always use this backend even if the call does not do any network I/O
  • upping the backlog did not really impact things - but having a smaller backlog led to errors.

Chaussette + gevent

Same than Gunicorn, but slightly faster. And well, things seem to go up, not down like in Gunicorn case.

Same as Gunicorn, very very slighlty faster at 400 CUs but almost no differences.

Chaussette + fastgevent

gevent.wsgi is supposedly faster. From Gevent doc:

wsgi.WSGIServer is very fast as it uses libevent's http server implementation but it shares the issues that libevent-http has.

In particular:

  • does not support streaming: the responses are fully buffered in memory before sending; likewise, the incoming requests are loaded in memory in full;
  • pipelining does not work: the server uses "Connection: close" by default;
  • does not support SSL.

So I am not sure why yet but things started to crash after 150+ users. See below

Of course that impacted the other graph by lowering the average response time.

A connection refused error is very fast to come back! :)

Chaussette + meinheld

Wooo meinheld is awesome!

The RPS is is slightly better :

But more interesting, see how tight the delta is for the fastest to the slowest requests on each run, and see how "fast" is the slowest request -- we are far from the 60 seconds we had earlier:

Everything is packed under 30 seconds, always.


So far Circus + Chaussette + Meinheld is the winner. I am amazed by the difference on the slowest responses on high loads.

That makes me confident that we can switch to this stack in the future. We'd still want the gevent back end for I/O bound apps, but Meinheld also do some socket monkey patching so that is a potential replacer, or at least can be used in apps that don't need gevent's monkey pacthing.

I also need to investigate on why fastgevent failed that way. There's a high probability I screwed things up when I embed it in Chaussette.

Btw, did I mention Chaussette can now be used with Django?

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