I agree completely that vacuum falls apart on huge tables. We could probably do the math and figure out what the ratio of updated rows per total rows is each day, but on a constantly growing table, that ratio gets smaller and smaller, making the impact of dead tuples in the table proportionately less and less.

If multi-version indexes are handled the same way as table rows, then the indexes will also suffer the same fate, if not worse. For huge tables, the b-tree depth can get fairly large. When a b-tree is of depth X and the machine holds the first Y levels of the b-tree in memory, then each table row selected requires a MINIMUM of (X-Y) disk access *before* the table row is accessed. Substitute any numbers you want for X and Y, but you will find that huge tables require many index reads.

Index updates are even worse. A table row update requires only a copy of the row. An index update requires at least a copy of the leaf node, and possibly more nodes if nodes must be split or collapsed. These splits and collapses can cascade, causing many nodes to be affected.

This whole process takes place for each and every index affected by the change, which is every index on the table when a row is added or deleted. All of this monkeying around takes place above and beyond the simple change of the row data. Further, each and every affected index page is dumped to WAL.

Assuming the indexes have the same MVCC proprties of row data, then the indexes would get dead tuples at a rate far higher than that of the table data.

So yes, vacuuming is a problem on large tables. It is a bigger problem for indexes. On large tables, index I/O comprises most of the I/O mix.

Don't take my word for it. Run a benchmark on Pg. Then, soft-link the index files and the WAL directories to a RAM disk. Rerun the benchmark and you will find that Pg far faster, much faster than if only the data were on the RAM disk.


Tatsuo Ishii wrote:
IMO the bottle neck is not WAL but table/index bloat. Lots of updates
on large tables will produce lots of dead tuples. Problem is, There'
is no effective way to reuse these dead tuples since VACUUM on huge
tables takes longer time. 8.0 adds new vacuum delay
paramters. Unfortunately this does not help. It just make the
execution time of VACUUM longer, that means more and more dead tuples
are being made while updating.

Probably VACUUM works well for small to medium size tables, but not
for huge ones. I'm considering about to implement "on the spot
salvaging dead tuples".
Tatsuo Ishii

This is probably a lot easier than you would think. You say that your DB will have lots of data, lots of updates and lots of reads.

Very likely the disk bottleneck is mostly index reads and writes, with some critical WAL fsync() calls. In the grand scheme of things, the actual data is likely not accessed very often.

The indexes can be put on a RAM disk tablespace and that's the end of index problems -- just make sure you have enough memory available. Also make sure that the machine can restart correctly after a crash: the tablespace is dropped and recreated, along with the indexes. This will cause a machine restart to take some time.

After that, if the WAL fsync() calls are becoming a problem, put the WAL files on a fast RAID array, etiher a card or external enclosure, that has a good amount of battery-backed write cache. This way, the WAL fsync() calls will flush quickly to the RAM and Pg can move on while the RAID controller worries about putting the data to disk. With WAL, low access time is usually more important than total throughput.

The truth is that you could have this running for not much money.

Good Luck,

Le Jeudi 20 Janvier 2005 19:09, Bruno Almeida do Lago a écrit :
> Could you explain us what do you have in mind for that solution? I mean,
> forget the PostgreSQL (or any other database) restrictions and explain us
> how this hardware would be. Where the data would be stored?
> I've something in mind for you, but first I need to understand your needs!

I just want to make a big database as explained in my first mail ... At the
beginning we will have aprox. 150 000 000 records ... each month we will add
about 4/8 millions new rows in constant flow during the day ... and in same
time web users will access to the database in order to read those data.
Stored data are quite close to data stored by google ... (we are not making a
google clone ... just a lot of data many small values and some big ones ...
that's why I'm comparing with google for data storage).
Then we will have a search engine searching into those data ...

Dealing about the hardware, for the moment we have only a bi-pentium Xeon
2.8Ghz with 4 Gb of RAM ... and we saw we had bad performance results ... so
we are thinking about a new solution with maybe several servers (server
design may vary from one to other) ... to get a kind of cluster to get better
performance ...

Am I clear ?


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