How to Configure ClickHouse for Physical & Logical I/O Performance

Introduction

ClickHouse is a high-performance column-oriented database management system. It uses a unique approach to both physical and logical I/O that is optimized for performance and scalability.

  1. Physical I/O: ClickHouse uses a multi-threaded approach to physical I/O, which allows it to efficiently read and write large amounts of data in parallel. The data is stored in blocks on disk, and each block is assigned to a separate thread for processing. The physical I/O layer is designed to work with high-performance storage systems, such as solid-state drives (SSDs), to achieve maximum I/O performance.
  2. Logical I/O: ClickHouse uses a columnar storage format, which allows it to minimize the amount of data that must be read from disk during a query. Instead of reading the entire row, ClickHouse reads only the columns that are required for a specific query. This minimizes the amount of data that must be transferred over the network, which can significantly improve query performance.

In addition to the physical and logical I/O optimizations, ClickHouse also uses advanced compression techniques to further reduce the amount of data that must be read from disk. The compressed data is decompressed on-the-fly as it is read from disk, which eliminates the need for additional decompression steps and helps to improve query performance.

Overall, the combination of multi-threaded physical I/O, columnar storage, and advanced compression techniques in ClickHouse allows it to efficiently and effectively process large amounts of data, resulting in improved query performance and scalability.

How to configure ClickHouse for I/O performance?

To configure ClickHouse for optimal I/O performance, you should consider the following factors:

  1. Storage Configuration: You should configure the storage system to be used by ClickHouse based on your performance requirements and the amount of data you will be storing. For example, solid-state drives (SSDs) are typically faster than traditional hard disk drives (HDDs), and can provide improved I/O performance for ClickHouse. You should also consider the type of storage system that is best suited for your use case, such as network-attached storage (NAS) or a direct-attached storage (DAS) solution.
  2. Data Compression: ClickHouse supports several different types of data compression, and you should choose the one that best fits your performance needs. For example, the Zstd compression algorithm provides a good balance between compression ratio and decompression speed, while LZ4 is designed for high-speed decompression. You can configure the compression algorithm used by ClickHouse by setting the appropriate options in the configuration file.
  3. Disk Settings: You should configure the disk settings to match the requirements of your storage system. For example, you may need to adjust the disk I/O scheduler, disk buffer size, and disk cache settings to optimize disk performance. You should also configure the disk settings to match the amount of data you will be storing and the size of your query workload.
  4. Network Configuration: If you are using a remote storage system or if your ClickHouse cluster is spread across multiple nodes, you should consider the network configuration to ensure that data can be transferred quickly and efficiently. You should configure the network settings, such as the network buffer size and network protocol, to match the requirements of your storage system and the size of your query workload.
  5. ClickHouse Configuration: Finally, you should configure the ClickHouse settings to match your performance requirements and the size of your query workload. For example, you should configure the number of read and write threads, the amount of memory used for caching, and the number of connections used by ClickHouse.

In summary, to configure ClickHouse for optimal I/O performance, you should consider the storage configuration, data compression, disk settings, network configuration, and ClickHouse configuration. You should also consider the size of your query workload and the amount of data you will be storing when making these configurations.

Here are some of the key configuration parameters in ClickHouse that can impact I/O performance:

  1. max_open_files: Controls the maximum number of open files allowed by the ClickHouse process. Increasing this value can improve I/O performance, especially when working with a large number of files.
  2. max_threads: Controls the maximum number of read and write threads used by ClickHouse. Increasing this value can improve I/O performance, but too many threads can cause performance degradation.
  3. compression: Specifies the compression algorithm used by ClickHouse. The available options include Zstd, LZ4, and others. You should choose the compression algorithm that best fits your performance needs.
  4. read_backoff_min_latency_ms: Controls the minimum latency for read backoff, which can improve I/O performance by slowing down the read rate during periods of high disk I/O utilization.
  5. read_ahead: Specifies the size of the read-ahead buffer used by ClickHouse. Increasing this value can improve I/O performance, but too large a value can increase memory usage and cause performance degradation.
  6. cache: Controls the amount of memory used for caching by ClickHouse. Increasing this value can improve I/O performance, but too large a value can increase memory usage and cause performance degradation.
  7. join_use_nulls: Specifies whether null values are used in joins. Enabling this option can improve I/O performance, but it can also increase memory usage.
  8. write_ahead_log: Specifies whether write-ahead logging is used by ClickHouse. Enabling this option can improve I/O performance and data consistency, but it can also increase disk I/O utilization.

Conclusion

These are some of the key configuration parameters in ClickHouse that can impact I/O performance. You should carefully evaluate your performance requirements and test different configurations to find the best settings for your use case. It is also recommended to monitor the system performance and resource utilization to ensure that the configuration is optimal.

To read more about ClickHouse Performance, do consider reading the below articles

About Shiv Iyer 216 Articles
Open Source Database Systems Engineer with a deep understanding of Optimizer Internals, Performance Engineering, Scalability and Data SRE. Shiv currently is the Founder, Investor, Board Member and CEO of multiple Database Systems Infrastructure Operations companies in the Transaction Processing Computing and ColumnStores ecosystem. He is also a frequent speaker in open source software conferences globally.