Google set up a search sandbox a while ago showcasing and testing the company's new search algorithm.
The public demo of the new search algorithm served not only to show the world that Google was ready to take on challenges posed by new search engines like Microsoft's Bing, but also as a testing ground for webmasters who were encouraged to compare results and let Google know about their discoveries.
Many search engine users liked the sandbox search as it was faster and with no noise in the form of advertisement and additional search results that Google likes to add to the company's regular search engine including results from Google News, YouTube, Google Images or Google Maps.
Users who want to load the sandboxed search engine today are greeted with the following text:
Thanks You! We appreciate all the feedback from people who searched on our Caffeine sandbox.
Based on the success we've seen, we believe Caffeine is ready for a larger audience. Soon we will activate Caffeine more widely, beginning with one data center. This sandbox is no longer necessary and has been retired, but we appreciate the testing and positive input that webmasters and publishers have given.
So one Google data center serves the search results based on the new search algorithm already, while the large majority still serves the old.
Many users who compared search results between the old and new search engine were not able to find any serious differences. Many of those users don't believe that the search results are better targeted to the search phrase of the user. Google on the other hand seems to be convinced that the caffeinated search algorithm is the better one. Time will tell if that is true, but since it is Google's decision ultimately, we will have to live with the new algorithm.
Update: Google announced in June 2010 that is has completed the move to the new web indexing system caffeine. According to Google, Caffeine offers 50% fresher results than the last index.
This is achieved by using a different system to keep the index updated. The old index used a layered approach, and that meant that some data points were refreshed at a faster rate than others. With Caffeine, the search index is updated on a continuous basis.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.