Wednesday 4 February 2015

The memory

The PostgreSQL memory at first sight looks simple. If compared with the complex structures implemented in the other DBMS to a careless reader could seem rudimentary. However, the memory and in particular the shared buffers implementation is complex and sophisticated. This chapter will dig down deep into the PostgreSQL's memory.

3.1 The shared buffer

The shared buffer is a segment allocated at cluster's startup. Its size is determined by the GUC parameter shared_buffers and the size can be changed only restarting the cluster. The shared buffer is used to manage the data pages as seen in 2.6, which are called buffers when loaded in rhw memory. Having a RAM segment is not uncommon in the database universe. Is a rapid exchange area where the buffers are kept across the sessions and keeps the data near the CPU. Like his competitors PostgreSQL strives to keep in memory what is important things and not everything. In the era of the in memory databases this could seems an obsolete concept. Unfortunately the truth is that the resources, and so the money, are not infinite. Before digging into the technical details we'll have a look to the history of the memory manager. The way PostgreSQL sticks an elephant into a small car without Timelord technology.

Back in the old days PostgreSQL was quite rudimentary. The version 7.4 did not had the tablespaces, it was without a mechanism to prevent the XID wraparound failure (except the routine vacuuming of course) and the memory  manager was a simple LRU buffer. Since then the algorithm evolved to become a simple but sophisticated system to cache effectively the buffers. We'll look briefly to the memory manager's history.

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