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InnoDB 1.1 for MySQL 5.5 User's Guide
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7.7. Changes in the Read-Ahead Algorithm

A read-ahead request is an I/O request to prefetch multiple pages in the buffer pool asynchronously, in anticipation that these pages will be needed soon. InnoDB uses or has used two read-ahead algorithms to improve I/O performance:

Linear read-ahead is a technique that predicts what pages might be needed soon based on pages in the buffer pool being accessed sequentially. You control when InnoDB performs a read-ahead operation by adjusting the number of sequential page accesses required to trigger an asynchronous read request, using the configuration parameter innodb_read_ahead_threshold. Before this parameter was added, InnoDB would only calculate whether to issue an asynchronous prefetch request for the entire next extent when it read in the last page of the current extent.

Random read-ahead is a technique that predicts when pages might be needed soon based on pages already in the buffer pool, regardless of the order in which those pages were read. If 13 consecutive pages from the same extent are found in the buffer pool, InnoDB asynchronously issues a request to prefetch the remaining pages of the extent. This feature was initially turned off in MySQL 5.5. It is available once again starting in MySQL 5.1.59 and 5.5.16 and higher, turned off by default. To enable this feature, set the configuration variable innodb_random_read_ahead.

If the number of pages read from an extent of 64 pages is greater or equal to innodb_read_ahead_threshold, InnoDB initiates an asynchronous read-ahead operation of the entire following extent. Thus, this parameter controls how sensitive InnoDB is to the pattern of page accesses within an extent in deciding whether to read the following extent asynchronously. The higher the value, the more strict the access pattern check. For example, if you set the value to 48, InnoDB triggers a linear read-ahead request only when 48 pages in the current extent have been accessed sequentially. If the value is 8, InnoDB would trigger an asynchronous read-ahead even if as few as 8 pages in the extent were accessed sequentially.

The new configuration parameter innodb_read_ahead_threshold can be set to any value from 0-64. The default value is 56, meaning that an asynchronous read-ahead is performed only when 56 of the 64 pages in the extent are accessed sequentially. You can set the value of this parameter in the MySQL option file (my.cnf or my.ini), or change it dynamically with the SET GLOBAL command, which requires the SUPER privilege.

The SHOW ENGINE INNODB STATUS command displays statistics to help you evaluate the effectiveness of the read-ahead algorithm. See Section 8.8, “More Read-Ahead Statistics” for more information.

For more information about I/O performance, see Optimizing InnoDB Disk I/O and Optimizing Disk I/O.


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