On Sat, Sep 3, 2016 at 8:55 AM, Claudio Freire <klaussfre...@gmail.com> wrote:
> The attached patch allows setting maintainance_work_mem or
> autovacuum_work_mem higher than 1GB (and be effective), by turning the
> allocation of the dead_tuples into a huge allocation.
> This results in fewer index scans for heavily bloated tables, and
> could be a lifesaver in many situations (in particular, the situation
> I'm living right now in production, where we don't have enough room
> for a vacuum full, and have just deleted 75% of a table to make room
> but have to rely on regular lazy vacuum to free the space).
> The patch also makes vacuum free the dead_tuples before starting
> truncation. It didn't seem necessary to hold onto it beyond that
> point, and it might help give the OS more cache, especially if work
> mem is configured very high to avoid multiple index scans.
> Tested with pgbench scale 4000 after deleting the whole
> pgbench_accounts table, seemed to work fine.

The problem with this is that we allocate the entire amount of
maintenance_work_mem even when the number of actual dead tuples turns
out to be very small.  That's not so bad if the amount of memory we're
potentially wasting is limited to ~1 GB, but it seems pretty dangerous
to remove the 1 GB limit, because somebody might have
maintenance_work_mem set to tens or hundreds of gigabytes to speed
index creation, and allocating that much space for a VACUUM that
encounters 1 dead tuple does not seem like a good plan.

What I think we need to do is make some provision to initially
allocate only a small amount of memory and then grow the allocation
later if needed.  For example, instead of having
vacrelstats->dead_tuples be declared as ItemPointer, declare it as
ItemPointer * and allocate the array progressively in segments.  I'd
actually argue that the segment size should be substantially smaller
than 1 GB, like say 64MB; there are still some people running systems
which are small enough that allocating 1 GB when we may need only 6
bytes can drive the system into OOM.

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

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