Anyone interested in improving postgresql scaling?

Maxime Henrion mux at
Tue Apr 10 11:49:42 UTC 2007

Mark Kirkwood wrote:
> Kris Kennaway wrote:
> >If so, then your task is the following:
> >
> >Make SYSV semaphores less dumb about process wakeups.  Currently
> >whenever the semaphore state changes, all processes sleeping on the
> >semaphore are woken, even if we only have released enough resources
> >for one waiting process to claim.  i.e. there is a thundering herd
> >wakeup situation which destroys performance at high loads.  Fixing
> >this will involve replacing the wakeup() calls with appropriate
> >amounts of wakeup_one().
> I'm forwarding this to the pgsql-hackers list so that folks more 
> qualified than I can comment, but as I understand the way postgres 
> implements locking each process has it *own* semaphore it waits on  - 
> and who is waiting for what is controlled by an in (shared) memory hash 
> of lock structs (access to these is controlled via platform Dependant 
> spinlock code). So a given semaphore state change should only involve 
> one process wakeup.

Yes but there are still a lot of wakeups to be avoided in the current
System V semaphore code.  More specifically, not only do we wakeup all
the processes waiting on a single semaphore everytime something changes,
but we also wakeup all processes waiting on *any* of the semaphore in
the semaphore *set*, whatever the reason we're sleeping.

I came up with a quick patch so that Kris could do some testing with it,
and it appears to have helped, but only very slightly; apparently some
contention within the netisr code caused problems, so that in some cases
the patch helped slightly, and in others it didn't.

The semaphore code needs a clean rewrite and I hope to take care of this
soon, as time permits, since we are heavy consumers of PostgreSQL under
FreeBSD at my company.


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