Modernizing our GUC infrastructure

From: Tom Lane <tgl(at)sss(dot)pgh(dot)pa(dot)us>
To: pgsql-hackers(at)lists(dot)postgresql(dot)org
Subject: Modernizing our GUC infrastructure
Date: 2022-09-05 22:27:46
Views: Raw Message | Whole Thread | Download mbox | Resend email
Lists: pgsql-hackers

Attached is a patch series that attempts to modernize our GUC
infrastructure, in particular removing the performance bottlenecks
it has when there are lots of GUC variables. I wrote this because
I am starting to question the schema-variables patch [1] --- that's
getting to be quite a large patch and I grow less and less sure
that it's solving a problem our users want solved. I think what
people actually want is better support of the existing mechanism
for ad-hoc session variables, namely abusing custom GUCs for that
purpose. One of the big reasons we have been resistant to formally
supporting that is fear of the poor performance guc.c would have
with lots of variables. But we already have quite a lot of them:

regression=# select count(*) from pg_settings;
(1 row)

and more are getting added all the time. I think this patch series
could likely be justified just in terms of positive effect on core
performance, never mind user-added GUCs.

0001 and 0002 below are concerned with converting guc.c to store its
data in a dedicated memory context (GUCMemoryContext) instead of using
raw malloc(). This is not directly a performance improvement, and
I'm prepared to drop the idea if there's a lot of pushback, but I
think it would be a good thing to do. The only hard reason for using
malloc() there was the lack of ability to avoid throwing elog(ERROR)
on out-of-memory in palloc(). But mcxt.c grew that ability years ago.
Switching to a dedicated context would greatly improve visibility and
accountability of GUC-related allocations. Also, the 0003 patch will
switch guc.c to relying on a palloc-based hashtable, and it seems a
bit silly to have part of the data structure in palloc and part in
malloc. However 0002 is a bit invasive, in that it forces code
changes in GUC check callbacks, if they want to reallocate the new
value or create an "extra" data structure. My feeling is that not
enough external modules use those facilities for this to pose a big
problem. However, the ones that are subject to it will have a
non-fun time tracking down why their code is crashing. (The recent
context-header changes mean that you get a very obscure failure when
trying to pfree() a malloc'd chunk -- for me, that typically ends
in an assertion failure in generation.c. Can we make that less

0003 replaces guc.c's bsearch-a-sorted-array lookup infrastructure
with a dynahash hash table. (I also looked at simplehash, but it
has no support for not elog'ing on OOM, and it increases the size
of guc.o by 10KB or so.) This fixes the worse-than-O(N^2) time
needed to create N new GUCs, as in

do $$
for i in 1..10000 loop
perform set_config('' || i::text, i::text, false);
end loop;
end $$;

On my machine, this takes about 4700 ms in HEAD, versus 23 ms
with this patch. However, the places that were linearly scanning
the array now need to use hash_seq_search, so some other things
like transaction shutdown (AtEOXact_GUC) get slower.

To address that, 0004 adds some auxiliary lists that link together
just the variables that are interesting for specific purposes.
This is helpful even without considering the possibility of a
lot of user-added GUCs: in a typical session, for example, not
many of those 353 GUCs have non-default values, and even fewer
get modified in any one transaction (typically, anyway).

As an example of the speedup from 0004, these DO loops:

create or replace function func_with_set(int) returns int
strict immutable language plpgsql as
$$ begin return $1; end $$
set enable_seqscan = false;

do $$
for i in 1..100000 loop
perform func_with_set(i);
end loop;
end $$;

do $$
for i in 1..100000 loop
perform func_with_set(i);
exception when others then raise;
end loop;
end $$;

take about 260 and 320 ms respectively for me, in HEAD with
just the stock set of variables. But after creating 10000
GUCs with the previous DO loop, they're up to about 3200 ms.
0004 brings that back down to being indistinguishable from the
speed with few GUCs.

So I think this is good cleanup in its own right, plus it
removes one major objection to considering user-defined GUCs
as a supported feature.

regards, tom lane


Attachment Content-Type Size
0001-memory-management-preliminaries-1.patch text/x-diff 6.1 KB
0002-keep-guc-data-in-a-context-1.patch text/x-diff 31.0 KB
0003-use-dynahash-instead-of-array-1.patch text/x-diff 27.2 KB
0004-add-auxiliary-lists-1.patch text/x-diff 20.6 KB


Browse pgsql-hackers by date

  From Date Subject
Next Message Andres Freund 2022-09-05 22:47:37 Re: Patch to address creation of PgStat* contexts with null parent context
Previous Message Tom Lane 2022-09-05 21:34:41 Re: failing to build preproc.c on solaris with sun studio