Oct 192010

Google Instant, the predictive search technology the company
launched last month to serve users results without making them hit the enter
button, is popular but costly.

Jonathan Rosenberg, Google’s senior vice president for
product management, asserted on the companys third-quarter earnings call Oct. 14 that not only was Instant not created to help Google make
more money, but that “from a resource
standpoint, it’s actually pretty expensive.

Rosenberg also declined to explain what resources triggered
those costs, so eWEEK asked Google. 15.

A company spokesperson confirmed that Google had purchased
additional computer servers to deliver the results, but declined to say how
many new machines and what the cost was to not only build Instant but keep it pumping out queries with each tap of a keystroke as it does today.

“The cost of search has steadily increased over the years as
we develop new innovations to serve users,” the spokesperson said. “We can’t
give you a specific number of machines we’ve added to support this launch –
other than to say this is technically demanding for our infrastructure.”

This is par for the course for Google, which has
historically declined tto discuss how many servers they employ to fuel its  data centers all over the world.

Hardware is hardly the only resources Google requires for
Instant, which serves an average of 5 to 7 times more result pages for some
queries. The company uses some nifty software and packet traffic (Get 10000 free hits) tricks. Those
are a bit more public.

For example, the Google spokesperson said Google is reducing
demand on servers by keeping the frame of the results page the same while
dynamically generating new results within that frame.

This is what keeps Google Instant appearing so smooth and
seamless as result appear and disappear from the screen with each keystroke. Google
also built systems to control the rate at which Instant shows results pages in
proportion to how relevant the pages are likely to be.

Also, the company’s search infrastructure team deployed new server
caches that can handle high request rates while keeping results fresh as it the
search algorithm crawls and re-index the Web.

New client caches in Googles infrastructure include
user-state data to track results pages already shown to a given user so as not
to this re-fetch the same results. Read more about these complex infrastructure
technologies here. 

Meanwhile, the Instant team is working hard to port the
Instant technology from the desktop to mobile devices. Rosenberg said on the
call that users can expect Instant to come to Google Android, RIM Blackberry
and Apples iPhone later this fall.

“It’s relatively soon. Sometime this fall. Fall lasts a
little longer in California though,” he joked.


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