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From Jean-Daniel Cryans <jdcry...@apache.org>
Subject Re: Does HBase RegionServer benefit from OS Page Cache
Date Wed, 20 Mar 2013 17:30:46 GMT
First, MSLAB has been enabled by default since 0.92.0 as it was deemed
stable enough. So, unless you are on 0.90, you are already using it.

Also, I'm not sure why you are referencing the HLog in your first
paragraph in the context of reading from disk, because the HLogs are
rarely read (only on recovery). Maybe you meant HFile?

In any case, your email covers most arguments except for one:
checksumming. Retrieving a block from HDFS, even when using short
circuit reads to go directly to the OS instead of passing through the
DN, will take quite a bit more time than reading directly from the
block cache. This is why even if you disable block caching on a family
that the index and root blocks will still be block cached, as reading
those very hot blocks from disk would take way too long.

Regarding your main question (how does the OS buffer help?), I don't
have a good answer. It kind of depends on the amount of RAM you have
and what your workload is like. As a data point, I've been successful
running with 24GB of heap (50% dedicated to the block cache) with a
workload consisting mainly of small writes, short scans, and a typical
random read distribution for a website. I can't remember the last time
I saw a full GC and it's been running for more than a year like this.

Hope this somehow helps,


On Wed, Mar 20, 2013 at 12:34 AM, Pankaj Gupta <pankaj.roark@gmail.com> wrote:
> Given that HBase has it's own cache (block cache and bloom filters) and that all the
table data is stored in HDFS, I'm wondering if HBase benefits from OS page cache at all. In
the set up I'm using HBase Region Servers run on the same boxes as the HDFS data node. In
such a scenario if the underlying HLog files lives on the same machine then having a healthy
memory surplus may mean that the data node can serve underlying file from page cache and thus
improving HBase performance. Is this really the case? (I guess page cache should also help
in case where HLog file lives on a different machine but in that case network I/O will probably
drown the speedup achieved due to not hitting the disk.
> I'm asking because if page cache were useful then in an HBase set up not utilizing all
the memory on the machine for the region server may not be that bad. The reason one would
not want to use all the memory for region server would be long garbage collection pauses that
large heap size may induce. I understand that work has been done to fix the long pauses caused
due to memory fragmentation in the old generation, mostly concurrent garbage collector by
using slab cache allocator for memstore but that feature is marked experimental and we're
not ready to take risks yet. So if the page cache was useful in any way on Region Servers
we could go with less memory for RegionServer process with the understanding that free memory
on the machine is not completely going to waste. Thus my curiosity about utility of os page
cache to performance of HBase.
> Thanks in Advance,
> Pankaj

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