On Sun, Jul 17, 2016 at 3:12 PM, Tom Lane <t...@sss.pgh.pa.us> wrote:
> Robert Haas <robertmh...@gmail.com> writes:
>> On Fri, Jul 15, 2016 at 4:28 AM, Craig Ringer <cr...@2ndquadrant.com> wrote:
>>> I don't think anyone's considering moving from multi-processing to
>>> multi-threading in PostgreSQL. I really, really like the protection that the
>>> shared-nothing-by-default process model gives us, among other things.
>> We get some very important protection by having the postmaster in a
>> separate address space from the user processes, but separating the
>> other backends from each other has no value.
> I do not accept that proposition in the least.  For one thing, debugging
> becomes an order of magnitude harder when you've got multiple threads
> in the same address space: you have essentially zero guarantees about
> what one thread might have done to the supposedly-private state of
> another one.

Well, that's true, in theory.  In practice, random memory clobbers are
a pretty rare type of bug.  The chances that thread A crashed because
thread B overwrote its supposedly-private state are just not very
high.  Also, such bugs are extremely hard to troubleshoot even when
there is only process and one thread involved, so it's not like things
are a rose garden today.  I don't buy the argument that it's worth
giving up arbitrary amounts of performance and functionality for this.

>> ... enough other people have
>> written complex, long-running multithreaded programs that I think it
>> is probably possible to do so without unduly compromising reliability.
> I would bet that every single successful project of that sort has been
> written with threading in mind from the get-go.  Trying to retro-fit
> threading onto thirty years' worth of single-threaded coding is a recipe
> for breaking your project; even if you had control of all the code running
> in the address space, which we assuredly do not.

I admit that it is risky, but I think there are things that could be
done to limit the risk.  I don't believe we can indefinitely continue
to ignore the potential performance benefits of making a switch like
this.  Breaking a thirty-year old code base irretrievably would be
sad, but letting it fade into irrelevance because we're not willing to
make the architecture changes that are needed to remain relevant would
be sad, too.

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

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