Tuning Apache Spark Applications

Vidisha Gupta has a few tips for tuning Apache Spark programs:

Data Serialization – Serialization plays an important role in increasing the performance of any application. Spark provides two serialization libraries –

  • Java Serialization: By default, spark uses Java’s ObjectOutputStream framework which can work with any class that implements java.io.serializable. This serialization is flexible but slow and creates large serialized formats for many classes.

  • Kryo Serialization: Spark can use Kryo library to serialize objects. It is much faster and compact but does not support all serializable types. So we must register those classes which we want to be serialized. Therefore, Kryo uses indices instead of full class names to identify data types which reduce the size of the serialized data thereby increasing performance. We can initialize our spark conf by setting the value of the property spark.serializer to org.apache.spark.serializer.KryoSerializer. This serializer has a major impact on performance when we are shuffling or caching a large amount of data. To know more about this serializer, refer  Kryo documentation

There are some good tips in here.

A Compendium Of Bad (Or Misleading) Performance Tips

Grant Fritchey responds to a long list of performance tips of greater or (mostly) lesser value:

Index the predicates in JOIN, WHERE, ORDER BY and GROUP BY clauses

What about the HAVING clause? Does the column order matter? Should we put a single column or multi-column index? INCLUDE statements? What kind of index, clustered, non-clustered, columnstore, XML, spatial? This piece of the advice is benign but so non-specific it’s almost useless. Let me summarize: Indexes can be good.

Do not use sp_* naming convention

So, this one is true because it will add a VERY small amount of overhead as SQL Server searches the master database first for your object. However, for most of us, most of the time, this is so far down the list of worries about our database as to effectively vanish from sight.

There’s a pretty long list of things here, most of which Grant considers either incomplete, irrelevant, or sometimes flat-out wrong.

Faster Scalar Functions In SQL Server 2019

Brent Ozar looks at improvements the SQL Server team has made to scalar functions in 2019:

My database has to be in 2019 compat mode to enable Froid, the function-inlining magic. Run the same query again, and the metrics are wildly different:

  • Runtime: 4 seconds

  • CPU time: 4 seconds

  • Logical reads: 3,247,991 (which still sounds bad, but bear with me)

My bias tells me that I still want to avoid scalar functions, but it’s no longer the automatic deal-killer it once was.

The Table Spool Operator In SQL Server

Hugo Kornelis digs into table spools:

The Table Spool operator is one of the four spool operators that SQL Server supports. It retains a copy of all data it reads in a worktable (in tempdb) and can then later return extra copies of these rows without having to call its child operators to produce them again. These copies can be made available in the same part of the execution plans, or in another part.

Table Spool is probably the most basic of the spool operators. The Index Spool operator is very similar to it, but indexes its data to allow it to return only a subset of the stored rows. The Row Count Spool operator is optimized for specific cases where the rows to be returned are empty. And the Window Spool operator is used to support the ROWS and RANGE specifications of windowing functions.

Typical use cases of a Table Spool are: to reproduce the same input multiple times without having to re-execute its child nodes (e.g. in the inner input of a Nested Loops); to make the same input available in multiple branches of an execution plan (e.g. in wide update plans); or to ensure that an original copy of the data is available after an insert, update, or delete operator changes the base data (“Halloween protection”).

Click through for a great deal more detail.

Deciding Whether To Clean Up Temp Tables

Grant Fritchey looks at what difference explicitly dropping temporary tables in a procedure makes:

I then set up Extended Events to capture the query metrics and I executed each of the queries multiple times (also, just for the test, I discarded the results because I didn’t want that process mucking with my measurements). After executing both procedures 500 times, the results were quite simple. The average execution time with an explicit drop was 8,672 microseconds. Meanwhile, the average for not dropping the temporary table was 8,530 microseconds. That’s about a 1% difference across hundreds of executions. Reads were identical and so were writes.

In short, the behavior is the same.

What about the impact on the system? Could I see changes in memory or I/O as these different processes ran?

Grant didn’t notice any difference but check Allen White and Jay Robinson’s answers in the comments.  Temp table reuse can happen (if you follow the rules) and can make a difference when a procedure is called frequently enough.

Capturing Implicit Conversions With Extended Events

Grant Fritchey shows how easy it is to build an extended event which captures implicit conversions:

Built right into the Extended Events is an event that captures conversions that would affect execution plans, plan_affecting_convert. This event will show both CONVERT and CONVERT_IMPLICIT warnings that you would normally only see within an execution plan. You can capture this event with others. Capturing events together along with causality tracking makes it very easy to track queries that have the issue. Here’s one example of how you might capture implicit conversions along with the query:

This kind of event can make system-level performance tuning much easier.

Table Variable Deferred Compilation: When It Works

Milos Radivojevic gives us a good example of when table variable deferred compilation is a good thing:

As mentioned in the previous article, SQL Server 2019 cardinality estimations for a table variable are based on actual table variable row counts. Therefore, in SQL Server 2019, we should expect better estimations and better plans for queries that use table variables.
Which queries will benefit from this improvement? Generally, queries that use table variables with a lot of rows in them, which are not tuned yet. For table variables with a few rows, there will not be significant changes and you should expect the same execution plan and almost same execution parameters.

Queries whose execution was slow due to underestimation in table variables usually implement logical joins by using Nested Loop Join physical operator where a Hash or Merge Join operators would be more appropriate. In addition to this, underestimation of table variables participating in multiple joins could lead to issues with insufficient memory grants, and thus data spilling to tempdb .

Click through for the example.  The next post in the series will be a case where it doesn’t work very well.

Batch Mode Processing On Rowstore Tables

Dmitry Pilugin shares some thoughts on the expansion of batch mode processing to rowstore tables:

The main advantages of Batch Mode are:

  • Algorithms optimized for the multi-core modern CPUs;
  • Better CPU cache utilization and increased memory throughput;
  • Reduced number of CPU instructions per processed row.

All these features make Batch Mode much faster than Row Mode (typically an order of magnitude, 10x-100x times faster) for analytical queries with CS indexes. One major condition for Batch Mode is a presence of a CS index. If you don’t have a CS index on a table involved in a query, you won’t get Batch Mode.

However, some analytical queries may benefit from Batch Mode without a CS index, or CS cannot be created due to some limitations.

There are a few tricks that allow you to enable Batch Mode on a Rowstore table for example with a dummy filtered CS index (see this post from Itzik Ben-Gan), but SQL Server 2019 may use Batch Mode on Rowstore without any extra efforts from your side.

Dmitry dives into the debugger and teases out the specific circumstances which can help get a query considered for rowstore.  If you want a deep dive into what’s currently available, this is your post.

Redshift Architecture Performance Tips

John Ryan has a few hints to help us build speedy Redshift clusters:

The Need to Vacuum

As Redshift does not reclaim free space automatically, updates and delete operations can frequently lead to table growth. Equally, it’s important as new entries are added, that the data is maintained in a sorted sequence.

The VACUUM command is used to re-sequence data, and reclaim disk space as a result of DELETE and UPDATE operations. Although it won’t block other processes, it can be a resource-intensive operation, especially for data stored using interleaved sort keys.

It should be run periodically to ensure consistent performance and to reduce disk usage.

Some of this is good Postgres advice; some of it is good MPP advice (and serves well, for example, when dealing with Azure SQL Data Warehouse); the rest is Redshift-specific.

Improvements In Table Variable Performance In SQL Server 2019

Matthew McGiffen tries out SQL Server 2019 to test a scenario where table variables were giving poor estimates in prior versions:

One of the most popular posts on my blog last year was where I pretty much suggested that people not use table variables:

Think twice before using table variables

This wasn’t new information when I wrote it, but bad performance due to the use of table variables remained such a common anti-pattern that I thought it was worth stressing again.

So, when I saw the above 2019 feature I thought I’d better investigate and update what I’m telling people.

TL;DR It looks like table variables are no longer a problem.

Read the whole thing.  This has the potential of changing long-standing advice going back a decade regarding table variables.

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