800MB for sort mem? Are you sure you typed that correctly? You must be counting on not having a lot of concurrent queries. It sure will speed up index updating, though!
800MB is correct, yes... There are usually only 10-30 postgres processes active (imagine 5-10 people working on the web front-end while cron jobs access the db occasionally). Very few queries can use such large amounts of memory for sorting, but they do exist.
I think you might do well to experiment with using the checkpoint_delay and checkpoint_sibilings settings in order to get more efficient batch processing of updates while selects are going on.[commit_*?]
I thought that could improve only concurrent transactions...
What have you set max_fsm_relations and max_fsm_pages to? The latter should be very high for you, like 10,000,000
good guess ;-) the former is set to 10,000 (I'm not sure how useful this is for those temporary tables)
For that matter, what *version* of PostgreSQL are you running?
Also, make sure that your tables get vaccuumed regularly.
There is a noticeable difference between a properly vacuumed db (nightly "vacuum full") and a non-vacuumed one and people will start complaining immediately if something goes wrong there...
Well, a battery-backed RAID controller with a fast cache would certainly help.
(RAID-5 with 9 15k rpm drives; at a hindsight, perhaps we should have tried a 0+1)
You'll also be glad to know that a *lot* of the improvements in the upcoming PostgreSQL 7.5 are aimed at giving better peformance on large, high-activity databases like yours.
That's good to hear...
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