Improving InnoDB memory usage

Note: this article was originally published on http://blogs.innodb.com on Dec 20, 2011 by Vasil Dimov.

Last month we did a few improvements in InnoDB memory usage. We solved a challenging issue about how InnoDB uses memory in certain places of the code.

The symptom of the issue was that under a certain workloads the memory used by InnoDB kept growing infinitely, until OOM killer kicked in. It looked like a memory leak, but Valgrind wasn’t reporting any leaks and the issue was not reproducible on FreeBSD – it only happened on Linux (see Bug#57480). Especially the latest fact lead us to think that there is something in the InnoDB memory usage pattern that reveals a nasty side of the otherwise good-natured Linux’s memory manager.

It turned out to be an interesting memory fragmentation caused by a storm of malloc/free calls of various sizes. We had to track and analyze each call to malloc during the workload, including the code path that lead to it. We collected a huge set of analysis data – some code paths were executed many 10’000s of times! A hurricane of allocations and deallocations! We looked at the hottest ones hoping that some of them are not necessary, can be eliminated, avoided, minimized or stuck together. Luckily there were plenty of them!

After an extensive testing we did a numerous improvements, allocating the smallest chunks of the memory from the stack instead of from the heap, grouping allocations together where possible, removing unnecessary allocations altogether, estimating exactly how much memory will be consumed by a given operation and allocating it in advance and others and others and others.

This not only fixed Bug#57480 but improved InnoDB memory usage in general.

Note: the fix is not in the 5.6.4 release.

Continues with some numbers here.

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