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Cached Tables

In v6.0.0, TiDB introduces the cached table feature for frequently accessed but rarely updated small hotspot tables. When this feature is used, the data of an entire table is loaded into the memory of the TiDB server, and TiDB directly gets the table data from the memory without accessing TiKV, which improves the read performance.

This document describes the usage scenarios of cached tables, the examples, and the compatibility restrictions with other TiDB features.

Usage scenarios

The cached table feature is suitable for tables with the following characteristics:

  • The data volume of the table is small.
  • The table is read-only or rarely updated.
  • The table is frequently accessed, and you expect a better read performance.

When the data volume of the table is small but the data is frequently accessed, the data is concentrated on a Region in TiKV and makes it a hotspot Region, which affects the performance. Therefore, the typical usage scenarios of cached tables are as follows:

  • Configuration tables, from which applications read the configuration information.
  • The tables of exchange rates in the financial sector. These tables are updated only once a day but not in real-time.
  • Bank branch or network information tables, which are rarely updated.

Take configuration tables as an example. When the application restarts, the configuration information is loaded in all connections, which causes a high read latency. In this case, you can solve this problem by using the cached tables feature.

Examples

This section describes the usage of cached tables by examples.

Set a normal table to a cached table

Suppose that there is a table users:

CREATE TABLE users (
    id BIGINT,
    name VARCHAR(100),
    PRIMARY KEY(id)
);

To set this table to a cached table, use the ALTER TABLE statement:

ALTER TABLE users CACHE;
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.01 sec)

Verify a cached table

To verify a cached table, use the SHOW CREATE TABLE statement. If the table is cached, the returned result contains the CACHED ON attribute:

SHOW CREATE TABLE users;
+-------+----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| Table | Create Table                                                                                                                                                                                                               |
+-------+----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
| users | CREATE TABLE `users` (
  `id` bigint(20) NOT NULL,
  `name` varchar(100) DEFAULT NULL,
  PRIMARY KEY (`id`) /*T![clustered_index] CLUSTERED */
) ENGINE=InnoDB DEFAULT CHARSET=utf8mb4 COLLATE=utf8mb4_bin /* CACHED ON */ |
+-------+----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------+
1 row in set (0.00 sec)

After reading data from a cached table, TiDB loads the data in memory. You can use the trace statement to check whether the data is loaded into memory. When the cache is not loaded, the returned result contains the regionRequest.SendReqCtx attribute, which indicates that TiDB reads data from TiKV.

TRACE SELECT * FROM users;
+------------------------------------------------+-----------------+------------+
| operation                                      | startTS         | duration   |
+------------------------------------------------+-----------------+------------+
| trace                                          | 17:47:39.969980 | 827.73µs   |
|   ├─session.ExecuteStmt                        | 17:47:39.969986 | 413.31µs   |
|   │ ├─executor.Compile                         | 17:47:39.969993 | 198.29µs   |
|   │ └─session.runStmt                          | 17:47:39.970221 | 157.252µs  |
|   │   └─TableReaderExecutor.Open               | 17:47:39.970294 | 47.068µs   |
|   │     └─distsql.Select                       | 17:47:39.970312 | 24.729µs   |
|   │       └─regionRequest.SendReqCtx           | 17:47:39.970454 | 189.601µs  |
|   ├─*executor.UnionScanExec.Next               | 17:47:39.970407 | 353.073µs  |
|   │ ├─*executor.TableReaderExecutor.Next       | 17:47:39.970411 | 301.106µs  |
|   │ └─*executor.TableReaderExecutor.Next       | 17:47:39.970746 | 6.57µs     |
|   └─*executor.UnionScanExec.Next               | 17:47:39.970772 | 17.589µs   |
|     └─*executor.TableReaderExecutor.Next       | 17:47:39.970776 | 6.59µs     |
+------------------------------------------------+-----------------+------------+
12 rows in set (0.01 sec)

After executing trace again, the returned result no longer contains the regionRequest.SendReqCtx attribute, which indicates that TiDB no longer reads data from TiKV but reads data from the memory instead.

+----------------------------------------+-----------------+------------+
| operation                              | startTS         | duration   |
+----------------------------------------+-----------------+------------+
| trace                                  | 17:47:40.533888 | 453.547µs  |
|   ├─session.ExecuteStmt                | 17:47:40.533894 | 402.341µs  |
|   │ ├─executor.Compile                 | 17:47:40.533903 | 205.54µs   |
|   │ └─session.runStmt                  | 17:47:40.534141 | 132.084µs  |
|   │   └─TableReaderExecutor.Open       | 17:47:40.534202 | 14.749µs   |
|   ├─*executor.UnionScanExec.Next       | 17:47:40.534306 | 3.21µs     |
|   └─*executor.UnionScanExec.Next       | 17:47:40.534316 | 1.219µs    |
+----------------------------------------+-----------------+------------+
7 rows in set (0.00 sec)

Note that the UnionScan operator is used to read the cached tables, so you can see UnionScan in the execution plan of the cached tables through explain:

+-------------------------+---------+-----------+---------------+--------------------------------+
| id                      | estRows | task      | access object | operator info                  |
+-------------------------+---------+-----------+---------------+--------------------------------+
| UnionScan_5             | 1.00    | root      |               |                                |
| └─TableReader_7         | 1.00    | root      |               | data:TableFullScan_6           |
|   └─TableFullScan_6     | 1.00    | cop[tikv] | table:users   | keep order:false, stats:pseudo |
+-------------------------+---------+-----------+---------------+--------------------------------+
3 rows in set (0.00 sec)

Write data to a cached table

Cached tables support data writes. For example, you can insert a record into the users table:

INSERT INTO users(id, name) VALUES(1001, 'Davis');
Query OK, 1 row affected (0.00 sec)
SELECT * FROM users;
+------+-------+
| id   | name  |
+------+-------+
| 1001 | Davis |
+------+-------+
1 row in set (0.00 sec)
Note

When you insert data to a cached table, second-level write latency might occur. The latency is controlled by the global environment variable tidb_table_cache_lease. You can decide whether to use the cached table feature by checking whether the latency is acceptable based on your application. For example, in a read-only scenario, you can increase the value of tidb_table_cache_lease:

set @@global.tidb_table_cache_lease = 10;

The write latency of cached tables is high, because the cached table feature is implemented with a complex mechanism that requires a lease to be set for each cache. When there are multiple TiDB instances, one instance does not know whether the other instances have cached data. If an instance modifies the table data directly, the other instances read the old cache data. To ensure correctness, the cached table implementation uses a lease mechanism to ensure that the data is not modified before the lease expires. That is why the write latency is high.

Revert a cached table to a normal table

Note

Executing DDL statements on a cached table will fail. Before executing DDL statements on a cached table, you need to remove the cache attribute first and set the cached table back to a normal table.

TRUNCATE TABLE users;
ERROR 8242 (HY000): 'Truncate Table' is unsupported on cache tables.
mysql> ALTER TABLE users ADD INDEX k_id(id);
ERROR 8242 (HY000): 'Alter Table' is unsupported on cache tables.

To revert a cached table to a normal table, use ALTER TABLE t NOCACHE:

ALTER TABLE users NOCACHE
Query OK, 0 rows affected (0.00 sec)

Size limit of cached tables

Cached tables are only suitable for scenarios with small tables, because TiDB loads the data of an entire table into memory, and the cached data becomes invalid after modification and needs to be reloaded.

Currently, the size limit of a cached table is 64 MB in TiDB. If the table data exceeds 64 MB, executing ALTER TABLE t CACHE will fail.

Compatibility restrictions with other TiDB features

Cached tables DO NOT support the following features:

  • Performing the ALTER TABLE t ADD PARTITION operation on partitioned tables is not supported.
  • Performing the ALTER TABLE t CACHE operation on temporary tables is not supported.
  • Performing the ALTER TABLE t CACHE operation on views is not supported.
  • Stale Read is not supported.
  • Direct DDL operations on a cached table are not supported. You need to set the cached table back to a normal table first by using ALTER TABLE t NOCACHE before performing DDL operations.

Cached tables CANNOT be used in the following scenarios:

  • Setting the system variable tidb_snapshot to read historical data.
  • During modification, the cached data becomes invalid until the data is reloaded.

Compatibility with TiDB ecosystem tools

The cached table is a TiDB extension to MySQL syntax. Only TiDB can recognize the ALTER TABLE ... CACHE statement. TiDB ecosystem tools DO NOT support cached tables, including Backup & Restore (BR), TiCDC, and Dumpling. These tools treat cached tables as normal tables.

That is to say, when a cached table is backed up and restored, it becomes a normal table. If the downstream cluster is a different TiDB cluster and you want to continue using the cached table feature, you can manually enable cached tables on the downstream cluster by executing ALTER TABLE ... CACHE on the downstream table.

See also

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