On Wed, Feb 8, 2012 at 8:33 AM, Peter Geoghegan <pe...@2ndquadrant.com> wrote:
> It doesn't necessarily matter if we increase the size of the postgres
> binary by 10%, precisely because most of that is not going to be in
> play from one instant to the next.

As Tom says, that doesn't jive with my experience.  If you add on
enough binary bloat, you will have more page faults.  It's true (as I
think you pointed out upthread) that packing all the copies of
quicksort into the binary one after the other minimizes the effect on
other things, but it doesn't eliminate it entirely.  If you've got

<random other stuff> ... <a zillion copies of quicksort> .... <more other stuff>

...then a branch from the "random other stuff" section of the binary
to the "more other stuff" section of the binary may cost more.  For
example, suppose the OS does X amount of readahead.  By stuffing all
those copies of quicksort into the middle there, you increase the
chances that the page you need was beyond the readahead window.  Or,
if it wasn't going to be in the readahead window either way, then you
increase the distance that the disk head needs to move to find the
required block.

These costs are very small, no question about it.  They are almost
impossible to measure individually, in much the same way that the cost
of pollution or greenhouse gas emissions is difficult to measure.  But
it's an error to assume that because the costs are individually small
that they will never add up to anything material.  As long as you keep
insisting on that, it's hard to have a rational conversation.  We can
reasonably debate the magnitude of the costs, but to assert that they
don't exist gets us nowhere.  Suppose we could get a 10% speedup on
sin(numeric) by adding 40GB to the binary size.  Would you be in favor
of that?  Do you think it would hurt performance on any other
workloads?  Would our packagers complain at all?  Surely your same
argument would apply to that case in spades: anyone who is not using
the gigantic hard-coded lookup table will not pay any portion of the
cost of it.

> It would be difficult for me to measure such things objectively, but
> I'd speculate that the proprietary databases have much larger binaries
> than ours, while having far fewer features, precisely because they
> started applying tricks like this a long time ago. You could counter
> that their code bases probably look terrible, and you'd have a point,
> but so do I.

That might be true; I have no idea.  There are probably lots of
reasons why their code bases look terrible, including a long history
of backward compatibility with now-defunct versions, a variety of
commercial pressures, and the fact that they don't have to take flak
in the public square for what their code looks like.

Robert Haas
EnterpriseDB: http://www.enterprisedb.com
The Enterprise PostgreSQL Company

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