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Tutorials focusing on Linux, programming, and open source

Scaleway - New Cheap x86 Servers

When I saw that Scaleway was offering an x86 server with impressive specs, I had to spin one up and try it out.

Usually a typical "starter" VPS from a hosting company will get you only 1 core, with only 20GB of SSD storage, and 512MB of RAM for 5 USD. Competitors may improve upon this here and there by increasing the RAM up to 1GB or throwing in some more storage. This offer blows them away with 4 times the RAM and twice the CPU core count.

Having 2GB of RAM makes it ideal for something heavier, such as a Gitlab server or a discourse forum.

My Impression

After spinning a server up, which was very quick and easy, I noticed that updating is rather slower than I'm used to. It turns out that the default sources.list file was set to:

deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu trusty main universe
deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu trusty-updates main universe
deb http://archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu trusty-security main universe

Considering the servers are in France, why is it using an American mirror to update Ubuntu!? This is quickly remedied by setting Ubuntu to automatically use the closest mirrors, which makes a noticeable difference. I hope that Scaleway sets up their own Ubuntu mirror in future.

Networking

I ran a Serverbear benchmark and noticed that connections to the UK and other EU countries were typically getting 50MB/s which is far from amazing, but good enough for most things. However, connections to the rest of the world, such as America, Singapore, and Australia were god-awful and I was getting speeds measured in the KB/s instead of MB/s. Unfortunately, the benchmark kept having an error and failed to post to the site. I still haven't gotten to the bottom of this issue.

CPU

The CPU being used is the Intel Atom C2750. This is the same processor I was extremely tempted to get on this ITX motherboard with passive cooling and 12 SATA ports. I wouldn't be surprised if they were using that same board as it is a server-grade board with advanced features such as IPMI. By using this processor, the company will be saving a lot of electricity, which is the primary maintenance cost for a hosting provider, as they won't be putting much power into the processor, or into the air conditioning units for cooling.

Noisy Neighbours

If Scaleway have configured the nodes with the maximum possible amount of RAM, which is 64 GB, then they could fit 32 clients onto a single node. With each client having access to 2 cores, then I see it being extremely likely that you will suffer from noisy neighbours since there are only 8 vCPU cores serving 64 virtual cores. In my opinion, it would probably have been better to give the clients access to only 1 core as these VPS's really should only be used for low intensity processes, such as serving web pages, or a Git/SVN repository.

Summary

This is probably the best bang-for-buck VPS out there and perfect if you only need to serve content to the EU. Just don't use it for anything CPU intensive. It might work well as a Minecraft server depending on how much it suffers from noisy neighbours.