Bruce Momjian <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> writes:
> Current README.HOT version:

I've done some further editorializing and wordsmithing on this,
and marked with XXX some areas that seem like they're still red flags
(or at least inadequately described).

                        regards, tom lane


                           Heap Only Tuples (HOT)


The Heap Only Tuple (HOT) feature eliminates redundant index entries and
allows the re-use of space taken by DELETEd or obsoleted UPDATEd tuples
without performing a table-wide vacuum.  It does this by allowing
single-page vacuuming, also called "defragmentation".

Note: there is a Glossary at the end of this document that may be helpful
for first-time readers.

Technical Challenges

Page-at-a-time vacuuming is normally impractical because of the costs of
finding and removing the index entries that link to the tuples to be
reclaimed.  Standard vacuuming scans the indexes to ensure all such index
entries are removed, amortizing the index scan cost across as many dead
tuples as possible; this approach does not scale down well to the case of
reclaiming just a few tuples.  In principle one could recompute the index
keys and do standard index searches to find the index entries, but this is
risky in the presence of possibly-buggy user-defined functions in
functional indexes.  An allegedly immutable function that in fact is not
immutable might prevent us from re-finding an index entry (and we cannot
throw an error for not finding it, in view of the fact that dead index
entries are sometimes reclaimed early).  That would lead to a seriously
corrupt index, in the form of entries pointing to tuple slots that by now
contain some unrelated content.  In any case we would prefer to be able
to do vacuuming without invoking any user-written code.

HOT solves this problem for a restricted but useful special case:
where a tuple is repeatedly updated in ways that do not change its
indexed columns.  (Here, "indexed column" means any column referenced
at all in an index definition, including for example columns that are
tested in a partial-index predicate but are not stored in the index.)

An additional property of HOT is that it reduces index size by avoiding
the creation of identically-keyed index entries.  This improves search

UPDATE Chains With a Single Index Entry

Without HOT, every version of a row in an UPDATE chain has its own index
entries, even if all indexed columns are the same.  With HOT, a new tuple
placed on the same page and with all indexed columns the same as its
parent row version does not get new index entries.  This means there is
only one index entry for the entire UPDATE chain on the heap page.
An index-less tuple is marked with the HEAP_ONLY_TUPLE flag.  The
prior row version is marked HEAP_HOT_UPDATED, and (as always in an
UPDATE chain) its t_ctid field links forward to the newer version.

For example:

        Index points to 1
        lp [1]  [2]


In the above diagram, the index points to line pointer 1, and tuple 1 is
marked as HEAP_HOT_UPDATED.  Tuple 2 is a HOT tuple, meaning it has
no index row pointing to it, and is marked as HEAP_ONLY_TUPLE.  Although
tuple 2 is not directly referenced by the index, it can still be
found by an index search: after traversing from the index to tuple 1,
the index search proceeds forward to child tuples as long as it sees the
HEAP_HOT_UPDATED flag set.  Since we restrict the HOT chain to lie within
a single page, this requires no additional page fetches and doesn't
introduce much performance penalty.

Eventually, tuple 1 will no longer be visible to any transaction.
At that point its space could be reclaimed, but its line pointer cannot,
since the index still links to that line pointer and we still need to
be able to find tuple 2 in an index search.  HOT handles this by turning
line pointer 1 into a "redirecting line pointer", which links to tuple 2
but has no actual tuple attached.  This state of affairs looks like

        Index points to 1
        lp [1]->[2]


If now the row is updated again, to version 3, the page looks like this:

        Index points to 1
        lp [1]->[2]  [3]


At some later time when no transaction can see tuple 2 in its snapshot,
tuple 2 and its line pointer can be pruned entirely:

        Index points to 1
        lp [1]------>[3]


This is safe because no index entry points to line pointer 2.  Subsequent
insertions into the page can now recycle both line pointer 2 and the
space formerly used by tuple 2.

If an update changes any indexed column, or there is not room on the
same page for the new tuple, then the HOT chain ends: the last member
has a regular t_ctid link to the next version and is not marked
HEAP_HOT_UPDATED.  (In principle we could continue a HOT chain across
pages, but this would destroy the desired property of being able to
reclaim space with just page-local manipulations.  Anyway, we don't
want to have to chase through multiple heap pages to get from an index
entry to the desired tuple.)  If further updates occur, the next version
could become the root of a new HOT chain.

Line pointer 1 has to remain as long as there is any non-dead member of
the chain on the page.  When there is not, it is marked "redirected dead".
This lets us reclaim the last child line pointer and associated tuple
immediately.  The next regular VACUUM pass can reclaim the index entries
pointing at the line pointer and then the line pointer itself.  Since a
line pointer is small compared to a tuple, this does not represent an
undue space cost.

Note: we can use a "redirected dead" line pointer for any DELETEd tuple,
whether it was part of a HOT chain or not.  This allows space reclamation
in advance of running VACUUM for plain DELETEs as well as HOT updates.

The requirement for doing a HOT update is that none of the indexed
columns are changed.  This is checked at execution time by comparing the
binary representation of the old and new values.  We insist on bitwise
equality rather than using datatype-specific equality routines.  The
main reason to avoid the latter is that there might be multiple notions
of equality for a datatype, and we don't know exactly which one is
relevant for the indexes at hand.  We assume that bitwise equality
guarantees equality for all purposes.

Index/Sequential Scans

When doing an index scan, whenever we reach a HEAP_HOT_UPDATED tuple whose
xmax is not aborted, we need to follow its t_ctid link and check that
entry as well; possibly repeatedly until we reach the end of the HOT
chain.  (When using an MVCC snapshot it is possible to optimize this a
bit: there can be at most one visible tuple in the chain, so we can stop
when we find it.  This rule does not work for non-MVCC snapshots, though.)

Sequential scans do not need to pay attention to the HOT flags because
they scan every item pointer on the page anyway.  The same goes for a
bitmap heap scan with a lossy bitmap.


HOT pruning means updating item pointers so that HOT chains are
reduced in length, by collapsing out line pointers for intermediate dead
tuples.  Although this makes those line pointers available for re-use,
it does not immediately make the space occupied by their tuples available.


Defragmentation centralizes unused space.  After we have converted root
line pointers to redirected line pointers and pruned away any dead
intermediate line pointers, the tuples they linked to are free space.
But unless that space is adjacent to the central "hole" on the page
(the pd_lower-to-pd_upper area) it will not be used by tuple insertion.
Defragmentation moves the surviving tuples to coalesce all the free
space into one "hole".  This is done with the same PageRepairFragmentation
function that regular VACUUM uses.

When can/should we prune or defragment?

This is the most interesting question in HOT implementation, since there
is no simple right answer: we must use heuristics to determine when it's
most efficient to perform pruning and/or defragmenting.

We cannot prune or defragment unless we can get a "buffer cleanup lock"
on the target page; otherwise, pruning might destroy line pointers that
other backends have live references to, and defragmenting might move
tuples that other backends have live pointers to.  Thus the general
approach must be to heuristically decide if we should try to prune
or defragment, and if so try to acquire the buffer cleanup lock without
blocking.  If we succeed we can proceed with our housekeeping work.
If we cannot get the lock (which should not happen often, except under
very heavy contention) then the housekeeping has to be postponed till
some other time.  The worst-case consequence of this is only that an
UPDATE cannot be made HOT but has to link to a new tuple version placed on
some other page, for lack of centralized space on the original page.

Ideally we would do defragmenting only when we are about to attempt
heap_update on a HOT-safe tuple.  The difficulty with this approach
is that the update query has certainly got a pin on the old tuple, and
therefore our attempt to acquire a buffer cleanup lock will always fail.
(This corresponds to the idea that we don't want to move the old tuple
out from under where the query's HeapTuple pointer points.  It might
be possible to finesse that, but it seems fragile.)

Pruning, however, is potentially useful even when we are not about to
insert a new tuple, since shortening a HOT chain reduces the cost of
subsequent index searches.

The currently proposed heuristic is to prune and defrag when accessing a
page with HOT updated tuples and with less than a certain threshold of
free space (typically less than the average tuple size for that table).
XXX there is much argument about this.

We have effectively implemented the "truncate dead tuples to just line
pointer" idea that has been proposed and rejected before because of fear
of line pointer bloat: we might end up with huge numbers of line pointers
and just a few actual tuples on a page.  To limit the damage in the worst
case, and to keep various work arrays as well as the bitmaps in bitmap
scans reasonably sized, the maximum number of line pointers per page
(MaxHeapTuplesPerPage) is arbitrarily capped.


There is little change to regular vacuum. It removes dead HOT tuples,
like pruning does, and cleans up any redirected dead line pointers.

In lazy vacuum, we must not freeze a tuple that is in the middle of an
update chain. That can happen when a tuple has xmin > xmax; it is the
same scenario that requires "hard pruning" in VACUUM FULL. Freezing such
tuples will break the check that xmin and xmax matches when following
the chain. It is not a problem without HOT, because the preceding tuple
in the chain must be dead as well so no one will try to follow the
chain, but with HOT the preceding tuple would be DEAD_CHAIN, and someone
might still need to follow the chain to find the live tuple. We avoid
that by just not freezing such tuples. They can be frozen eventually,
when the xmax of the preceding tuple is < OldestXmin as well.

XXX doesn't the above completely break the anti-wraparound guarantees?
And why couldn't we avoid the problem by pruning the previous tuple,
which is surely dead?


To make vacuum full work, any DEAD tuples in the middle of an update
chain need to be removed (see comments at the top of
heap_prune_hotchain_hard() for details). Vacuum full performs a more
aggressive pruning that not only removes dead tuples at the beginning of
an update chain, but scans the whole chain and removes any intermediate
dead tuples as well.  It also removes redirected line pointers by making
them directly point to the first tuple in the HOT chain. This causes
a user-visible change in the tuple's CTID, but since VACUUM FULL has
always moved tuple CTIDs, that should not break anything.

XXX any extra complexity here needs justification --- a lot of it.


XXX: How do HOT-updates affect statistics? How often do we need to run
autovacuum and autoanalyze?

As the latest patch stands, we track dead-space in the relation and trigger
autovacuuum based on the percentage of dead space in the table. We
don't have any mechanism to account for index bloat yet. Autoanalyze
does not change.


CREATE INDEX presents a problem for HOT updates.  While the existing HOT
chains all have the same index values, the new index might invalidate
the HOT chain because the columns in the new index might change within
a pre-existing HOT chain.

To address this issue, regular (non-concurrent) CREATE INDEX makes the
new index usable only by transactions newer than the CREATE INDEX
command.  This prevents transactions that can see the inconsistent HOT
chains from trying to use the new index and getting incorrect results.  
New transactions can only see the rows visible after the index was
created, hence the HOT chains are consistent for them.

Entries in the new index point to root tuples (tuples with current index
pointers) so that our index uses the same index pointers as all other
indexes on the table.  However the row we want to index is actually at
the *end* of the chain, ie, the most recent live tuple on the HOT chain.
That is the one we compute the index entry values for, but the TID
we put into the index is that of the root tuple.  Since transactions that
will be allowed to use the new index cannot see any of the older tuple
versions in the chain, the fact that they might not match the index entry
isn't a problem.  (Such transactions will check the tuple visibility
information of the older versions and ignore them, without ever looking at
their contents, so the content inconsistency is OK.)  Subsequent updates
to the live tuple will be allowed to extend the HOT chain only if they are
HOT-safe for all the indexes.

Because we have ShareLock on the table, any DELETE_IN_PROGRESS or
INSERT_IN_PROGRESS tuples should have come from our own transaction.
Therefore we can consider them committed since if the CREATE INDEX
commits, they will be committed, and if it aborts the index is discarded.
An exception to this is that early lock release is customary for system
catalog updates, and so we might find such tuples when reindexing a system
catalog.  In that case we deal with it by waiting for the source
transaction to commit or roll back.  (We could do that for user tables
too, but since the case is unexpected we prefer to throw an error.)

Practically, we prevent old transactions from using the new index by
putting our transaction id in pg_index.indcreatexid after building the
index (but only if live HOT chains exist in the table).  Queries can use a
new index only after indcreatexid is below their TransactionXmin horizon.

This means in particular that the transaction creating the index will
be unable to use the index.  We alleviate that problem somewhat by
not setting indcreatexid unless the table actually contains HOT chains
with RECENTLY_DEAD members.  (In 8.4 we should be able to improve on
that, at least for non-serializable transactions, because we expect
to be able to advance TransactionXmin intratransaction.)

Another unpleasant consequence is that it is now risky to use SnapshotAny
in an index scan: if the index was created more recently than the last
vacuum, it's possible that some of the visited tuples do not match the
index entry they are linked to.  This does not seem to be a fatal
objection, since there are few users of SnapshotAny and most use seqscans.
The only exception at this writing is CLUSTER, which is okay because it
does not require perfect ordering of the indexscan readout (and especially
so because CLUSTER tends to write recently-dead tuples out of order anyway).


In the concurrent case we take a different approach.  We create the
pg_index entry immediately, before we scan the table.  The pg_index entry
is marked as "not ready for inserts".  Then we commit and wait for any
transactions which have the table open to finish.  This ensures that no
*new* HOT updates will change the key value for our new index, because all
transactions will see the existence of the index and will respect its
constraint on which updates can be HOT.

After waiting for transactions which had the table open, we build the
index with a snapshot.  Because we waited for anyone who existed before
the index was created, any tuples seen in the snapshot will have only
valid forward-growing HOT chains.  (They might still have older HOT
updates behind them which are broken.)  As above, we point the index
pointer at the root of the HOT-update chain but we use the key from the
end of the chain.

We mark the index open for inserts (but still not ready for reads) then
we again wait for transactions which have the table open.  Then we take
a second reference snapshot and validate the index.  This searches for
tuples missing from the index --- but it again has to look up the root
of the HOT chains and search for those tuples in the index.

Then we wait until every transaction that could have a snapshot older than
the second reference snapshot is finished.  This ensures that nobody is
alive any longer who could possibly see any of the older tuples in a
broken HOT chain.  (This condition is actually stronger than what is
needed to protect the broken HOT chains --- the problem we are dealing
with is tuples inserted after we took our first reference snapshot.
Those will be part of valid HOT-chains, but might not be in the index.)

XXX the above being the case, why should we bother with all this extra
mechanism?  Seems we could dispense with "not ready for inserts".

Limitations and Restrictions

It is worth noting that HOT forever forecloses alternative approaches
to vacuuming, specifically the recompute-the-index-keys approach alluded
to in Technical Challenges above.  It'll be tough to recompute the index
keys for a root line pointer you don't have data for anymore ...


Broken HOT Chain

        A HOT chain in which the key value for an index has changed.

        This is not allowed to occur normally but if a new index is created
        it can happen.  In that case various strategies are used to ensure
        that no transaction for which the older tuples are visible can
        use the index.

Cold update

        A normal, non-HOT update, in which index entries are made for
        the new version of the tuple.


        New return value for HeapTupleSatisfiesVacuum, which means that
        the tuple is not visible to anyone, but it has been HOT updated
        so we cannot remove it yet because the following tuples in the
        chain would become inaccessible from indexes.

Heap-only tuple

        A heap tuple with no index pointers, which can only be reached
        from indexes indirectly through its ancestral root tuple.
        Marked with HEAP_ONLY_TUPLE flag.


        A proposed tuple update is said to be HOT-safe if it changes
        none of the tuple's indexed columns.  It will only become an
        actual HOT update if we can find room on the same page for
        the new tuple version.

HOT update

        An UPDATE where the new tuple becomes a heap-only tuple, and no
        new index entries are made.

HOT-updated tuple

        An updated tuple, for which the next tuple in the chain is a
        heap-only tuple.  Marked with HEAP_HOT_UPDATED flag.

Indexed column

        A column used in an index definition.  The column might not
        actually be stored in the index --- it could be used in a
        functional index's expression, or used in a partial index
        predicate.  HOT treats all these cases alike.

Redirecting line pointer

        A line pointer that points to another line pointer and has no
        associated tuple. Its lp_len is set to a magic value
        (ITEMID_REDIRECTED), and lp_off is the OffsetNumber of the line
        pointer it points to.

Redirected dead line pointer

        A stub line pointer, that does not point to anything, but cannot
        be removed or reused yet because there are index pointers to it.
        Semantically same as a dead tuple.

Root tuple

        The first tuple in a HOT update chain; the one that indexes point to.

Update chain

        A chain of updated tuples, in which each tuple's ctid points to
        the next tuple in the chain. A HOT update chain is an update chain
        (or portion of an update chain) that consists of a root tuple and
        one or more heap-only tuples. A complete update chain can contain
        both HOT and non-HOT (cold) updated tuples.
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