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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

11 Best Practices for Low Latency Systems

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Its been 8 years since Google noticed that an extra 500ms of latency dropped traffic by 20% and Amazon realized that 100ms of extra latency dropped sales by 1%. Ever since then developers have been racing to the bottom of the latency curve, culminating in front-end developers squeezing every last millisecond out of their JavaScript, CSS, and even HTML. What follows is a random walk through a variety of best practices to keep in mind when designing low latency systems. Most of these suggestions are taken to the logical extreme but of course tradeoffs can be made. (Thanks to an anonymous user for asking this question on Quora and getting me to put my thoughts down in writing).


  1. Choose the right language
  2. Keep it all in memory
  3. Keep data and processing colocated
  4. Keep the system underutilized
  5. Keep context switches to minimum
  6. Keep your reads sequential
  7. Batch your writes
  8. Respect your cache
  9. Non-blocking as much as possible
  10. Async as much as possible
  11. Parallelize as much as possible
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