Friday, October 19, 2018

Combining tiered and leveled compaction

There are simple optimization problems for LSM tuning. For example use leveled compaction to minimize space amplification and use tiered to minimize write amplification. But there are interesting problems that are harder to solve:
  1. maximize throughput given a constraint on write and/or space amplification
  2. minimize space and/or write amplification given a constraint on read amplification
To solve the first problem use leveled compaction if it can satisfy the write amp constraint, else use tiered compaction if it can satisfy the space amp constraint, otherwise there is no solution. The lack of a solution might mean the constraints are unreasonable but it can also mean we need to enhance LSM implementations to support more diversity in LSM tree shapes. Even when there is a solution using leveled or tiered compaction there are solutions that would do much better were an LSM to support more varieties of tiered+leveled and leveled-N.

When I mention solved above I leave out that there is more work to find a solution even when tiered or leveled compaction is used. For both there are decisions about the number of levels and per-level fanout. If minimizing write amp is the goal then that is a solved problem. But there are usually more things to consider.


I defined tiered+leveled and leveled-N in a previous post. They occupy the middle ground between tiered and leveled compaction with better read efficiency than tiered and better write efficiency than leveled. They are not supported today by popular LSM implementations but I think they can and should be supported. 

While we tend to explain compaction as a property of an LSM tree (all tiered or all leveled) it is really a property of a level of an LSM tree and RocksDB already supports hybrids, combinations of tiered and leveled. For tiered compaction in RocksDB all levels except the largest use tiered. The largest level is usually configured to use leveled to reduce space amp. For leveled compaction in RocksDB all levels except the smallest use leveled and the smallest (L0) uses tiered.

So tiered+leveled isn't new but I think we need more flexibility. When a string of T and L is created from the per-level compaction choices then the regex for the strings that RocksDB supports is T+L or TL+. I want to support T+L+. I don't want to support cases where leveled is used for a smaller level and tiered for a larger level. So I like TTLL but not LTTL. My reasons for not supporting LTTL are:
  1. The benefit from tiered is less write amp and is independent of the level on which it is used. The reduction in write amp is the same whether tiered is used for L1, L2 or L3.
  2. The cost from tiered is more read and space amp and that is dependent on the level on which it is used. The cost is larger for larger levels. When space amp is 2 more space is wasted on larger levels than smaller levels. More IO read amp is worse for larger levels because they have a lower hit rate than smaller levels and more IO will be done. More IO implies more CPU cost from decompression and the CPU overhead of performing IO.
From above the benefit from using T is the same for all levels but the cost increases for larger levels so when T and L are both used then T (tiered) should be used on the smaller levels and L (leveled) on the larger levels.


I defined leveled-N in a previous post. Since then a co-worker, Maysam Yabandeh, explained to me that a level that uses leveled-N can also be described as two levels where the smaller uses leveled and the larger uses tiered. So leveled-N might be syntactic sugar in the LSM tree configuration language.

For example with an LSM defined using the triple syntax from here as (compaction type, fanout, runs-per-level) then this is valid: (T,1,8) (T,8,2) (L,8,2) (L,8,1) and has total fanout of 512 (8 * 8 * 8). The third level (L,8,2) uses leveled-N with N=2. Assuming we allow LSM trees where T follows L then the leveled-N level can be replaced with two levels: (L,8,1) (T,1,8). Then the LSM tree is defined as (T,1,8) (T,8,2) (L,8,1) (T,1,8) (L,8,1). These LSM trees have the same total fanout and total read/write/space amp. Compaction from (L,8,1) to (T,1,8) is special. It has zero write amp because it is done by a file move rather than merging/writing data so all that must be updated is LSM metadata to record the move.

So in general I don't support T after L but I do support it in the special case. Of course we can pretend the special case doesn't exist if we use the syntactic sugar provided by leveled-N. But I appreciate that Maysam discovered this.

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