Update on the InnoDB double-write buffer and EXT4 transactions

In a post, written a few months ago, I found that using EXT4 transactions with the “data=journal” mount option, improves the write performance significantly, by 55%, without putting data at risk. Many people commented on the post mentioning they were not able to reproduce the results and thus, I decided to further investigate in order to find out why my results were different.

So, I ran sysbench benchmarks on a few servers and found when the InnoDB double-write buffer limitations occur and when they don’t. I also made sure some of my colleagues were able to reproduce the results. Basically, in order to reproduce the results you need the following conditions:

  • Spinning disk (no SSD)
  • Enough CPU power
  • A dataset that fits in the InnoDB buffer pool
  • A continuous high write load with many ops waiting for disk

Using the InnoDB double write buffer on an SSD disk somewhat prevents us from seeing the issue, something good performance wise. That comes from the fact that the latency of each write operation is much lower. That makes sense, the double-writer buffer is an area of 128 pages on disk that is used by the write threads. When a write thread needs to write a bunch of dirty pages to disk, it first writes them sequentially to free slots in the double write buffer in a single iop and then, it spends time writing the pages to their actual locations on disk using typically one iop per page. Once done writing, it releases the double-write buffer slots it was holding and another thread can do its work. The presence of a raid controller with a write cache certainly helps, at least until the write cache is full. Thus, since I didn’t tested with a raid controller, I suspect a raid controller write cache will delay the apparition of the symptoms but if the write load is sustained over a long period of time, the issue with the InnoDB double write buffer will appear.

So, to recapitulate, on a spinning disk, a write thread needs to hold a lock on some of the double-write buffer slots for at least a few milliseconds per page it needs to write while on a SSD disk, the slots are released very quickly because of the low latency of the SSD storage. To actually stress the InnoDB double-write buffer on a SSD disk, one must push much more writes.

That leads us to the second point, the amount of CPU resources available. At first, one of my colleague tried to reproduce the results on a small EC2 instance and failed. It appeared that by default, the sysbench oltp.lua script is doing quite a lot of reads and those reads saturate the CPU, throttling the writes. By lowering the amount of reads in the script, he was then able to reproduce the results.

For my benchmarks, I used the following command:

sysbench --num-threads=16 --mysql-socket=/var/lib/mysql/mysql.sock
--mysql-database=sbtest --mysql-user=root
--test=/usr/share/doc/sysbench/tests/db/oltp.lua --oltp-table-size=50000000
--oltp-test-mode=complex --mysql-engine=innodb --db-driver=mysql
--report-interval=60 --max-requests=0 --max-time=3600 run

Both servers used were metal boxes with 12 physical cores (24 HT). With less CPU resources, I suggest adding the following parameters:


So that the CPU is not wasted on reads and enough writes are generated. Remember we are not doing a generic benchmarks, we are just stressing the InnoDB double-write buffer.

In order to make sure something else isn’t involved, I verified the following:

  • Server independence, tried on 2 physical servers and one EC2 instance, Centos 6 and Ubuntu 14.04
  • MySQL provided, tried on MySQL community and Percona Server
  • MySQL version, tried on 5.5.37 and 5.6.23 (Percona Server)
  • Varied the InnoDB log file size from 32MB to 512MB
  • The impacts of the number of InnoDB write threads (1,2,4,8,16,32)
  • The use of Linux native asynchronous iop
  • Spinning and SSD storage

So, with all those verifications done, I can maintain that if you are using a server with spinning disks and a high write load, using EXT4 transactions instead of the InnoDB double write buffer yields to an increase in throughput of more than 50%. In an upcoming post, I’ll show how the performance stability is affected by the InnoDB double-write buffer under a high write load.

Appendix: the relevant part of the my.cnf

innodb_buffer_pool_size = 12G
innodb_write_io_threads = 8 # or else in {1,2,4,8,16,32}
innodb_read_io_threads = 8
innodb_flush_log_at_trx_commit = 0 # must be 0 or 2 to really stress the double write buffer
innodb_log_file_size = 512M # or 32M, 64M
innodb_log_files_in_group = 2
innodb_flush_method=O_DIRECT # or O_DSYNC
innodb_buffer_pool_restore_at_startup=300 # On 5.5.x, important to warm up the buffer pool
#innodb_buffer_pool_load_at_startup=ON # on 5.6, important to warm up the buffer pool
#innodb_buffer_pool_dump_at_shutdown=ON # on 5.6, important to warm up the buffer pool,
skip-innodb_doublewrite # or commented out
innodb_flush_neighbor_pages=none # or area for spinning

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Q&A: High availability when using MySQL in the cloud

Percona MySQL webinar followup: Q&ALast week I hosted a webinar on using MySQL in the cloud for High Availability (HA) alongside 451 Research analyst Jason Stamper. You can watch the recording and also download the slides (free) here. Just click the “Register” button at the end of that page.

We had several excellent questions and we didn’t have time to get to several of them in the allotted time. I’m posting them here along with the answers. Feel free to ask follow-up questions in the comments below.

Q: Can the TokuDB engine be used in a PXC environment?

A: No, TokuDB cannot currently be used in a PXC environment, the only supported engine in Percona XtraDB Cluster 5.6 is InnoDB.

Q: With Galera replication (PXC), is balancing the load on each node?

A: No, you need to implement your own load balancing and HA layer between your clients and the Percona XtraDB Cluster server.  Examples mentioned in the webinar include HAProxy and F5 BigIP.

Q: What’s the best version of Percona XtraDB Cluster regarding InnoDB performance?

A: In general for best performance you should be using the latest release of Percona XtraDB Cluster 5.6, which is currently 5.6.24, released on June 3rd, 2015.

Q: Can I redirect my writes in Percona XtraDB Cluster to multiple nodes using the HAProxy? While trying with SysBench I can see write-only goes to first nodes in PXC while reads does goes to multiple nodes.

A: Yes you can configure HAProxy to distribute both reads and writes across all of your nodes in a Percona XtraDB Cluster environment. Perhaps SysBench created only one database connection for all writes, and so haproxy kept those confined to only one host. You may want to experiment with parallel_prepare.lua.

Q: What’s the optimal HA for small datasets (db is less than 10gb)?

A: The optimal HA deployment for small datasets would be dependent on your level of recovery required (tolerance for loss of transactions) and time that you can be in an unavailable state (seconds, minutes, hours?).  Unfortunately there isn’t a single answer to your question, however, if you are interested in further discussion on this point Percona would be happy to coordinate a time to speak.  Please feel free to contact me directly and we can continue the conversation at [email protected].

 Q: Is there a concept of local master vs. remote master with PXC?

A: No there is no concept of local vs remote master.  All nodes in a Percona XtraDB Cluster can now be classified as Master, regardless of their proximity to the clients.

Q: Are there any concerns when considering AWS RDS or AURORA DB for MySQL HA in the Cloud?

A: Regarding AWS RDS, yes this a good option for MySQL HA in the Cloud.  I unfortunately haven’t worked with Aurora DB that much yet so I don’t have an opinion on it’s suitability for HA in the Cloud.

Q: We tried out PXC awhile back and it used to lock everything whenever any ddl was done. Has that changed?

A: We would have to look at the specifics of your environment, however, there have been numerous improvements in the 1½ years of development since Percona XtraDB Cluster went Generally Available (GA) on January 30th, 2014 in version 5.6.15.

Q: Is using the arbitrator a must?

A: No the arbitrator role via the garbd daemon is generally only used when operating in a minimal environment of two nodes that contain the data and you need a third node for quorum but don’t want to store the data a third time.

Q: Can we do a cluster across different zones?

A: Yes you can. However be aware that the latency incurred for all cluster certification operations will be impacted by the round trip time between nodes.

Q: Does PXC also support the MyISAM database?

A: No, Percona XtraDB Cluster does not support any storage engine other than InnoDB as of PXC 5.6.

Q: How do load balancers affect the throughput in a Galera-based setup given that the write would be limited by the slowest node?

A: Load balancers will introduce some measure of additional latency in the form of CPU time in the load balancer layer as it evaluates its own ruleset, and also in network time due to additional hop via load balancer.  Otherwise there should be no perceptible difference in the write throughput of a Percona XtraDB Cluster with and without a load balancer as it relates to the “slowest node” factor.

Q: Have you used MaxScale yet? If so, what are your thoughts?

A: Unfortunately I haven’t used MaxScale however Yves Trudeau, Percona Principal Architect, has recently written about MaxScale in this blog post.

Q: How do you configure timeout and maintain persistent connection to HAProxy?

A: I would encourage you to refer to the HAProxy Documentation.

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