[ic] UTF-8 Advantages/Disadvantages

Chris Keane chris.keane at zzgi.com
Fri May 28 15:00:33 UTC 2010

Hey all,

What are the advantages of running with UTF-8 on an english language 
site? The main reason I ask is that we're seeing truly significant 
performance hits on 5.7.2 with UTF enabled vs disabled.

Our test:

   1. we run our entire system in the Amazon Compute Cloud
   2. The main production IC layer server is configured as a CPU-heavy
      machine (2.5 cores at 2.5GHz each)
   3. Some of the pages, especially those with nested loops are
      atrocious. The same code on one of our older servers running 5.4
      runs a factor of 10x faster.
   4. For testing purposes and to keep the same environment, I booted a
      new instance of the exact same server as the production server. It
      uses the exact same DB backend server, the catalogs were cloned,
      mounted on the new test server and the only configuration changes
      were to the server URL in the catalogs and the apache config.
   5. UTF-8 was disabled on the new test server through
      MINIVEND_DISABLE_UTF8=1 and setting all the directives for UTF-8
      in the global and catalog configs to be 0 or commented out.
   6. The exact same page was loaded on the production system and the
      new test system. It's a complex page that produces a financial
      summary for a race event, broken down by entries, classes and
      produces some nice graphs. This page (and some of our others) use
      multiple subloops, which I know introduces performance issues.
   7. Test system (no UTF-8): 5 seconds, Production system (UTF-8): 49

As you can see, 5 seconds vs 49 seconds is significant and I'm sure you 
appreciate that it's the difference between a quietly happy customer and 
a wildly dissatisfied one. So we'll be disabling UTF-8 on the production 
server today in time for this weekend's race events.

Perl 5.10.0
Encode 2.39
IC 5.7.2

To help us make a good decision going forward can someone explain the 
relative merits of UTF-8 in an english-only site? Alternately, any 
updates into how to fix the horrible slowness of the UTF-8 enabled site, 
preferably through config changes or updates rather than by rewriting 
all the loops ;)



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