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How to Accurately Measure Writes in InnoDB Redo Logs

10.09.2012
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Curator's Note: This article was originally written by Stephane Combaudon at the MySQL Performance Blog (linked below).

Choosing a good InnoDB log file size is key to InnoDB write performance. This can be done by measuring the amount of writes in the redo logs. You can find a detailed explanation in this post.

To sum up, here are the main points:

  • The redo logs should be large enough to store at most an hour of logs at peak-time
  • You can either use the LSN in the SHOW ENGINE INNODB STATUS OUTPUT or the Innodb_os_log_written global status variable (if you are a Percona Server user, the LSN is also given by the Innodb_lsn_current status variable)

While reviewing the recommendation I made for a customer, one of my colleagues told me I was wrong in my redo log size calculations. After each one double checked the calculations, it turned out that we experienced something not expected:

  • Using Innodb_os_log_written, I found that around 7.15 GB of redo logs were written per hour
  • Using the LSN, my colleague found 2.70 GB/hour (almost a 3x difference!)

Something was obviously wrong in our understanding of how to measure the amount of writes in the redo logs. Let’s first have a look at what the documentation says. It states that

  • Innodb_os_log_written is the number of bytes written to the log file
  • The LSN is an arbitrary, ever-increasing value [that] represents a point in time corresponding to operations recorded in the redo log

What is not obvious from the documentation is that while Innodb_os_log_written is incremented when the log file is written, the LSN is incremented when the log buffer is written.

This is interesting. It means that the durability setting can skew the results: if innodb_flush_log_at_trx_commit is set to 0, you can accidentally omit or add 1 second of write activity. Of course if you measure variations over 60s, this will not explain a 3x difference with the LSN. It also means that if the write workload is very non uniform, you can easily get very different numbers if you are not taking measures exactly at the same time for the 2 methods.

However, the write workload had not so much variance in my case. I also ran a test with a constant write workload (a mono-threaded script that inserts one row at a time in a table, as fast as it can) and I ended up with the same result: numbers were very different between the 2 methods. Even stranger, the innodb_os_log_written method consistently gave higher numbers than the LSN method, when we would have expected the opposite.

It was time for digging into the source code. All the credits should actually be given to Alexey Kopytov, who not only took the time to read the code again and to make tests, but who also caught something we all missed: writing to the redo logs and increasing the LSN have completely different logics.

The LSN simply shows the byte offset, so when you write 100 bytes to the log buffer, the LSN is increased by 100.
Writing to the redo logs is a much more complicated process: every write is a 512-byte write and there can be overlapping writes. Not clear? Let’s look at an example when innodb_flush_log_at_trx_commit is set to 1 or 2 (again, thanks Alexey):

  • Transaction 1 writes 100 bytes to the log buffer
  • At commit, InnoDB writes a 512-byte block at offset xxx and increments Innodb_os_log_written by 512 bytes
  • Transaction 2 writes 200 bytes to the log buffer
  • At commit, InnoDB appends those 200 bytes to the same log block and overwrites the same 512-byte file block at offset xxx, then increases Innodb_os_log_written by another 512 bytes

At this point, the LSN has increased by 300 and Innodb_os_log_written by 1024 (a 3x difference!). This means that the documentation is correct: Innodb_os_log_written is the number of bytes written to the redo logs. But it does not reflect the growth of the redo logs.

So when you are trying to size the redo logs, looking at the LSN variations is a much better approximation than looking at the Innodb_os_log_written variations, which can be significantly far from the reality. However keep in mind that even the LSN is an approximate metric: if your write workload is non uniform and your sampling interval too short, you may well underestimate or overestimate the growth of your redo logs.

Published at DZone with permission of Peter Zaitsev, author and DZone MVB. (source)

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