Percona XtraDB Cluster (PXC) offers a great deal of flexibility when it comes to the state transfer (SST) options (used when a new node is automatically provisioned with data). For many environments, on-the-fly compression capability gives great benefits of saving network bandwidth during the process of sending sometimes terabytes of data. The usual choice for compression here is a built-in Percona XtraBackup compress option (using qpress internally), or options compressor/decompressor for the compression tool of choice. In the second case, the popular option is the gzip or its multi-threaded version pigz, which offers a better compression rate than qpress.
In this writeup, I would like to mention another important compression alternative, which is gaining good popularity recently – zstd.
I decided to do a simple test of various SST settings in terms of compression method and number of parallel threads. Note that my test is limited to basically one hardware scenario and a generic mix of TPCC and sysbench data.
The specs of my test box, which I tested with PXC 8.0.25: 2x Qemu-KVM VMs, each has 6GB RAM, 8 vCPUs (i7 11th gen), disk storage on a fast NVMe drive, and 1Gbps virtual network link. Therefore, my goal is only to give some hints and encourage to test various options, as the potential benefit may be quite significant in some environments.
In order to set particular compression, I used the following configuration options, where x means a number of parallel threads.
qpress used internally by XtraBackup
compressor=’qpress -io -Tx 1′
decompressor=’pigz -px -d’
compressor=’zstd -1 -Tx’
decompressor=’zstd -d -Tx’
On each SST test, I measured the complete time of starting the new node, network data received bytes during the SST process by the donor, and data written to the joiner’s disk.
Here are the results:
SST time in seconds
Data received by the joiner during SST [MB]
Data written by the joiner to disk during SST [MB]
And some graphical views for convenience:
In this test case, the small gain of using multiple threads with no compression or with lightweight compression is due to the fact that the network link and disk IO became the bottleneck faster than the CPU.
The test shows how bad regarding CPU utilization gzip is compared to other compression methods, as CPU was the main bottleneck even with 8 threads here.
Quite excellent results came with zstd, which while offering the same good compression rate as gzip, completely outperforms it in terms of CPU utilization, and all of that with the lowest compression level of “1”!
One thing that needs clarification is the difference between the two methods using qpress (quicklz) compression. When using the compress option for Percona XtraBackup, the tool first compresses each file and sends it with .qp suffix to the joiner. Then, the joiner has to decompress those files before it can prepare the backup. Therefore, it is always a more expensive one as requires more disk space during the process.
Any real-life examples of introducing better compression methods are very welcome in the comments! I wonder if zstd turns out to be as effective in your real use cases.