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Re: parallelizing subplan execution (was: explain and PARAM_EXEC)

From: Mark Wong <markwkm(at)gmail(dot)com>
To: Robert Haas <robertmhaas(at)gmail(dot)com>
Cc: Dimitri Fontaine <dfontaine(at)hi-media(dot)com>, Tom Lane <tgl(at)sss(dot)pgh(dot)pa(dot)us>, pgsql-hackers(at)postgresql(dot)org
Subject: Re: parallelizing subplan execution (was: explain and PARAM_EXEC)
Date: 2010-06-26 02:47:34
Message-ID: AANLkTinN_RNBftVxYpqmy7oWIitTPCDM7P3kFCNCxXrQ@mail.gmail.com (view raw or flat)
Thread:
Lists: pgsql-hackers
Hi all,

Sorry for jumping in over 4 months later...

On Sat, Feb 20, 2010 at 8:25 PM, Robert Haas <robertmhaas(at)gmail(dot)com> wrote:
> On Sat, Feb 20, 2010 at 8:31 AM, Dimitri Fontaine
> <dfontaine(at)hi-media(dot)com> wrote:
>>> This is really a topic for another thread, but at 100,000 feet it
>>> seems to me that the hardest question is - how will you decide which
>>> operations to parallelize in the first place?  Actually making it
>>> happen is really hard, too, of course, but even to get that that point
>>> you have to have some model for what types of operations it makes
>>> sense to parallelize and how you're going to decide when it's a win.
>>
>> My naive thoughts would be to add some cost parameters. The fact to
>> fork() another backend first, then model for each supported subplan (we
>> will want to add more, or maybe have a special rendez-vous-materialise
>> node) some idea of the data exchange cost.
>>
>> Now the planner would as usual try to find the less costly plan, and
>> will be able to compare plans with and without distributing the work.
>>
>> Overly naive ?
>
> Probably.  For one thing, you can't use fork(), because it won't work
> on Windows.
>
> It seems to me that you need to start by thinking about what kinds of
> queries could be usefully parallelized.  What I think you're proposing
> here, modulo large amounts of hand-waving, is that we should basically
> find a branch of the query tree, cut it off, and make that branch the
> responsibility of a subprocess.  What kinds of things would be
> sensible to hand off in this way?  Well, you'd want to find nodes that
> are not likely to be repeatedly re-executed with different parameters,
> like subplans or inner-indexscans, because otherwise you'll get
> pipeline stalls handing the new parameters back and forth.  And you
> want to find nodes that are expensive for the same reason.  So maybe
> this would work for something like a merge join on top of two sorts -
> one backend could perform each sort, and then whichever one was the
> child would stream the tuples to the parent for the final merge.  Of
> course, this assumes the I/O subsystem can keep up, which is not a
> given - if both tables are fed by the same, single spindle, it might
> be worse than if you just did the sorts consecutively.
>
> This approach might also benefit queries that are very CPU-intensive,
> on a multi-core system with spare cycles.  Suppose you have a big tall
> stack of hash joins, each with a small inner rel.  The child process
> does about half the joins and then pipelines the results into the
> parent, which does the other half and returns the results.
>
> But there's at least one other totally different way of thinking about
> this problem, which is that you might want two processes to cooperate
> in executing the SAME query node - imagine, for example, a big
> sequential scan with an expensive but highly selective filter
> condition, or an enormous sort.  You have all the same problems of
> figuring out when it's actually going to help, of course, but the
> details will likely be quite different.
>
> I'm not really sure which one of these would be more useful in
> practice - or maybe there are even other strategies.  What does
> $COMPETITOR do?

I feel that the answer is it depends.  To partially answer what others
are doing, I'll present some papers from someone we might recognize as
a starting point. :)

http://pages.cs.wisc.edu/~dewitt/includes/publications.html

Some of these papers aren't the type of parallelism we're talking
about here, but the ones that I think are relevant talk mostly about
parallelizing hash based joins.  I think we might be lacking an
operator or two though in order to do some of these things.

> I'm also ignoring the difficulties of getting hold of a second backend
> in the right state - same database, same snapshot, etc.  It seems to
> me unlikely that there are a substantial number of real-world
> applications for which this will not work very well if we have to
> actually start a new backend every time we want to parallelize a
> query.  IOW, we're going to need, well, a connection pool in core.
> *ducks, runs for cover*

Do we think it's worth proofing that we can execute a plan in
parallel?  Something simple, if not the best case, say a nested loop
join between two tables?  Just as a starting point before worrying too
much about what is the best thing to parallelize, or how the degree of
parallelism will be controller?

Regards,
Mark

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