The MySQL “swap insanity” problem and the effects of the NUMA architecture

Jeremy Cole

Update: Also read A brief update on NUMA and MySQL.

The “swap insanity” problem, in brief

When running MySQL on a large system (e.g., 64GB RAM and dual quad core CPUs) with a large InnoDB buffer pool (e.g., 48GB), over time, Linux decides to swap out potentially large amounts of memory, despite appearing1 to be under no real memory pressure. Monitoring reveals that at no time is the system in actual need of more memory than it has available; and memory isn’t leaking, mysqld‘s RSS is normal and stable.

Normally a tiny bit of swap usage could be OK (we’re really concerned about activity—swaps in and out), but in many cases, “real” useful memory is being swapped: primarily parts of InnoDB’s buffer pool. When it’s needed once again, a big performance hit is taken to swap it back in, causing random delays in random queries. This…

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