[zeromq-dev] Messages per second?

Martin Sustrik sustrik at 250bpm.com
Thu Nov 17 11:47:34 CET 2011

Hi Luca,

> I was wondering what should be considered a reasonable way to estimate a
> realistic maximum number of messages per second for a server receiving
> messages on a tcp zmq_socket.
> I have a relatively simple server that opens a tcp port (ZMQ_ROUTER) and
> logic-wise is pretty much a copy of the Multithreaded Server example in
> the guide. I am unsure how to estimate how many requests per second
> should I expect maximum on this configuration. I'm guessing the number
> relates somehow to the kind of network connection and the size of the
> messages.

If your server does the same thing as "Multithreaded Server" example, 
the clients are sending requests and receiving replies in a lock-step 
manner (one request on the fly at a time).

That makes throughput directly dependent on the request execution time 
and network latency.

For example, if processing the request takes 180 usec and network 
latency is 10us, you can do at most 5000 requests per second (1000000 / 
(10 + 180 + 10)).

Now say that additional 2 usecs are spent in 0MQ code. The throughput 
will vary slightly, but the variation would be probably lost in 
variation introduced by network and request processing per se.

In short, "Multithreaded Server" is not a good scenario for assessing 
0MQ performance.

> The network connection is either one or two 1Gb/s or 10Gb/s wires
> arriving at the machine (depending on the specific hardware in
> question), yet I'm unsure how the rest of the network topology will
> affect performance.

The only way to find out is to measure it.

> The messages are of a few kinds, but they fall into three categories:
> small (few hundred bytes, call it 256, say about 0.1% of the total),
> tiny (under 32 bytes, say less than 0.5% of the total) and big (around
> 32MB each, all the rest, about 99% of the total). Assuming that I can
> load halfway each wire (this seems to be what our systems people
> indicates as a reasonable thing to design towards), it seems I would get
> either 50MB/s or 500MB/s on a one link in each of the two cases, which
> would in turn mean I'd get up to 1.5 or 15 big messages per second (or
> twice as much on a dual link? or does that need two ports?).

Yes. You'll get 1.5 - 15 msgs/sec but only in the case you are pushing 
the messages one after another without waiting for a reply. If you 
switch to lock-step, you have to take sending the reply into account 
etc. The throughput will be lower of course.

> By the same reasoning, though, it seems I could get up to 200k small
> messages and up to 2M tiny messages per second, which I suspect is
> rather hard to achieve in practice, based on some measurements I found
> online of Apache being unable to accept more than 5k connections per
> second and Cassandra being unable to give more that 2k answers for
> direct queries per second.

There's no Apache or Cassandra used inside 0MQ. 2 million small messages 
per second seem to be a reasonable expectation. See, for example, here:


> Which brings me back to my original question:
> are there numbers available about the various overheads, with which one
> can try and estimate how big the messages should be to optimize the
> overhead vs transmission time tradeoff? Are guys able to share some real
> world numbers of this sort, or some indication upon which I can build
> some intuition around what to expect?

Benchmarking can be pretty tricky. You have to understand very well what 
exactly you are benchmarking and do the tests in production-like 
environment to get any meaningful figures.

I've written guidelines once, which can be used as a starting point:



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