InnoDB Plugin 1.0 for MySQL 5.1 User's Guide  /  ...  /  Compression and the InnoDB Buffer Pool

3.4.3. Compression and the InnoDB Buffer Pool

In a compressed InnoDB table, every compressed page (whether 1K, 2K, 4K or 8K) corresponds to an uncompressed page of 16K bytes. To access the data in a page, InnoDB must read the compressed page from disk (unless it is already in memory), and then uncompress the page to its original 16K byte form. This section describes how InnoDB manages the buffer pool with respect to pages of compressed tables.

To minimize I/O and to reduce the need to uncompress a page, at times the buffer pool contains both the compressed and uncompressed form of a database page. However, to make room for other required database pages, InnoDB may evict from the buffer pool an uncompressed page, while leaving the compressed page in memory. Or, if a page has not been accessed in a while, the compressed form of the page may be written to disk, to free space for other data. Thus, at any given time, the buffer pool may (a) not contain any copy of a given database page, (b) contain only the compressed form of the page, or (c) contain both the compressed and uncompressed forms of the page.

InnoDB keeps track of which pages to retain in memory and which to evict using a least-recently-used (LRU) list, so that hot or frequently accessed data tends to stay in memory. When compressed tables are accessed, InnoDB uses an adaptive LRU algorithm to achieve an appropriate balance of compressed and uncompressed pages in memory. This adaptive algorithm is sensitive to whether the system is running in an I/O-bound or CPU-bound manner.

The essential idea is to avoid spending too much processing time uncompressing pages when the CPU is busy, and to avoid doing excess I/O when the CPU has spare cycles that can be used for uncompressing compressed pages (that may already be in memory). When the system is I/O-bound, the algorithm prefers to evict the uncompressed copy of a page rather than both copies, to make more room for other disk pages to become memory resident. When the system is CPU-bound, InnoDB prefers to evict both the compressed and uncompressed page, so that more memory can be used for hot pages and reducing the need to uncompress data in memory only in compressed form.

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