Performance tuning in YSQL

As a versatile distributed database, YugabyteDB can be deployed in a variety of configurations for a variety of use cases. The following best practices and tips can greatly improve the performance of a YugabyteDB cluster.


To run the following examples, first set up a cluster and database schema as described in the Prerequisites.

Fast single-row transactions

YugabyteDB has specific optimizations to improve the performance of transactions in certain scenarios where transactions operate on a single row. These transactions are referred to as single-row or fast-path transactions. These are much faster than distributed transactions that impact a set of rows distributed across shards that are themselves spread across multiple nodes distributed across a data center, region, or globally.

For example, consider a common scenario in transactions where a single row is updated and the new value is fetched. This is usually done in multiple steps as follows:

UPDATE txndemo SET v = v + 3 WHERE k=1;
SELECT v FROM txndemo WHERE k=1;

In this formulation, when the rows are locked in the first SELECT statement, YugabyteDB does not know what rows are going to be modified in subsequent commands. As a result, it considers the transaction to be distributed.

However, if you write it as a single statement, YugabyteDB can confidently treat it as a single-row transaction. To update a row and return its new value using a single statement, use the RETURNING clause as follows:

UPDATE txndemo SET v = v + 3 WHERE k=1 RETURNING v;

YugabyteDB treats this as a single-row transaction, which executes much faster. This also saves one round trip and immediately fetches the updated value.

Minimize conflict errors

The INSERT statement has an optional ON CONFLICT clause that can be helpful to circumvent certain errors and avoid multiple statements.

For example, if concurrent transactions are inserting the same row, this could cause a UniqueViolation. Instead of letting the server throw an error and handling it in code, you could just ask the server to ignore it as follows:


With DO NOTHING, the server does not throw an error, resulting in one less round trip between the application and the server.

You can also simulate an upsert by using DO UPDATE SET instead of doing a INSERT, fail, and UPDATE, as follows:

INSERT INTO txndemo VALUES (1,10)
        ON CONFLICT (k)
        DO UPDATE SET v=10;

Now, the server automatically updates the row when it fails to insert. Again, this results in one less round trip between the application and the server.

Avoid long waits

In the READ COMMITTED isolation level, clients do not need to retry or handle serialization errors. During conflicts, the server retries indefinitely based on the retry options and Wait-On-Conflict policy.

To avoid getting stuck in a wait loop because of starvation, you should use a reasonable timeout for the statements, similar to the following:

SET statement_timeout = '10s';

This ensures that the transaction would not be blocked for more than 10 seconds.

Handle idle applications

When an application takes a long time between two statements in a transaction or just hangs, it could be holding the locks on the provisional records during that period. It would hit a timeout if the idle_in_transaction_session_timeout is set accordingly. After that timeout is reached, the connection is disconnected and the client would have to reconnect. The typical error message would be:

FATAL:  25P03: terminating connection due to idle-in-transaction timeout

By default, the idle_in_transaction_session_timeout is set to 0. You can set the timeout to a specific value in ysqlsh using the following command:

SET idle_in_transaction_session_timeout = '10s';

To view the current value, use the following command:

SHOW idle_in_transaction_session_timeout;

Setting this timeout can avoid deadlock scenarios where applications acquire locks and then hang unintentionally.

Large scans and batch jobs

When a transaction is in SERIALIZABLE isolation level and READ ONLY mode, if the transaction property DEFERRABLE is set, then that transaction executes with much lower overhead and is never canceled because of a serialization failure. This can be used for batch or long-running jobs, which need a consistent snapshot of the database without interfering or being interfered with by other transactions. For example:

SELECT * FROM very_large_table;

Optimistic concurrency control

As noted, all transactions are dynamically assigned a priority. This is a value in the range of [0.0, 1.0]. The current priority can be fetched using the yb_get_current_transaction_priority setting as follows:

SELECT yb_get_current_transaction_priority();
 0.000000000 (Normal priority transaction)
(1 row)

The priority value is bound by two settings, namely yb_transaction_priority_lower_bound and yb_transaction_priority_upper_bound. If an application would like a specific transaction to be given higher priority, it can issue statements like the following:

SET yb_transaction_priority_lower_bound=0.9;
SET yb_transaction_priority_upper_bound=1.0;

This ensures that the priority assigned to your transaction is in the range [0.9-1.0] and thereby making it a high-priority transaction.

Stored procedures: minimize round trips

A transaction block executed from the client that has multiple statements requires multiple round trips between the client and the server. Consider the following transaction:

    UPDATE txndemo SET v = 11 WHERE k = 1;
    UPDATE txndemo SET v = 22 WHERE k = 2;
    UPDATE txndemo SET v = 33 WHERE k = 3;

This would entail five round trips between the application and server, which means five times the latency between the application and the server. This would be very detrimental even if the latency is low. These round trips can be avoided if these transactions are wrapped in a stored procedure. A stored procedure is executed in the server and can incorporate loops and error handling. Stored procedures can be invoked from the client in just one call as follows:

CALL stored_procedure_name(argument_list);

Depending on the complexity of your transaction block, this can vastly improve the performance.

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