With a clever hack utilizing Memcache, Nginx, and Drupal, we have been able to speed the delivery time of many of our major pages by 53,900% (from 8,100 msec to 15 msec, according to siege and AB benchmarks). Additional, we went from being able to handle 27 concurrent requests to being able to handle 3,334 concurrent requests (a 12,248% increase).
While we performed a long series of performance optimizations, this article is focused primarily on how we managed to serve data directly from Memcached, via Nginx, without invoking PHP at all.
Nginx, Memcached, and Drupal
Read on for the full explanation of how we achieved this huge speedup.