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Re: Group commit and commit delay/siblings

From: Greg Smith <greg(at)2ndquadrant(dot)com>
To: Jignesh Shah <jkshah(at)gmail(dot)com>
Cc: Rob Wultsch <wultsch(at)gmail(dot)com>, postgres performance list <pgsql-performance(at)postgresql(dot)org>
Subject: Re: Group commit and commit delay/siblings
Date: 2010-12-06 04:35:32
Message-ID: (view raw, whole thread or download thread mbox)
Lists: pgsql-performance
Jignesh Shah wrote:
> The commit_siblings = 5 basically checks that it sleeps only when that
> many backends are active. This I think is a very expensive check and I
> would rather make commit_siblings=0 (which the current code does not
> support.. it only supports minimum of 1)

I just posted a message to the Facebook group sorting out the confusion 
in terminology there.

The code Jignesh is alluding to does this:

        if (CommitDelay > 0 && enableFsync &&
            CountActiveBackends() >= CommitSiblings)

And the expensive part of the overhead beyond the delay itself is 
CountActiveBackends(), which iterates over the entire procArray 
structure.  Note that it doesn't bother acquiring ProcArrayLock for 
that, as some small inaccuracy isn't really a problem for what it's 
using the number for.  And it ignores backends waiting on a lock too, as 
unlikely to commit in the near future.

The siblings count is the only thing that keeps this delay from kicking 
in on every single commit when the feature is turned on, which it is by 
default.  I fear that a reworking in the direction Jignesh is suggesting 
here, where that check was removed, would cripple situations where only 
a single process was trying to get commits accomplished. 

As for why this somewhat weird feature hasn't been removed yet, it's 
mainly because we have some benchmarks from Jignesh proving its value in 
the hands of an expert.  If you have a system with a really 
high-transaction rate, where you can expect that the server is 
constantly busy and commits are being cached (and subsequently written 
to physical disk asyncronously), a brief pause after each commit helps 
chunk commits into the write cache as more efficient blocks.  It seems a 
little counter-intuititive, but it does seem to work.

The number of people who are actually in that position are very few 
though, so for the most part this parameter is just a magnet for people 
to set incorrectly because they don't understand it.  With this 
additional insight from Jignesh clearing up some of the questions I had 
about this, I'm tempted to pull commit_siblings altogether, make 
commit_delay default to 0, and update the docs to say something 
suggesting "this will slow down every commit you make; only increase it 
if you have a high commit rate system where that's necessary to get 
better commit chunking".

Greg Smith   2ndQuadrant US    greg(at)2ndQuadrant(dot)com   Baltimore, MD
PostgreSQL Training, Services and Support
"PostgreSQL 9.0 High Performance":

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