5.1.5.1 Structured System Variables

A structured variable differs from a regular system variable in two respects:

MySQL 5.0 supports one structured variable type, which specifies parameters governing the operation of key caches. A key cache structured variable has these components:

This section describes the syntax for referring to structured variables. Key cache variables are used for syntax examples, but specific details about how key caches operate are found elsewhere, in Section 8.6.1, “The MyISAM Key Cache”.

To refer to a component of a structured variable instance, you can use a compound name in instance_name.component_name format. Examples:

hot_cache.key_buffer_size
hot_cache.key_cache_block_size
cold_cache.key_cache_block_size

For each structured system variable, an instance with the name of default is always predefined. If you refer to a component of a structured variable without any instance name, the default instance is used. Thus, default.key_buffer_size and key_buffer_size both refer to the same system variable.

Structured variable instances and components follow these naming rules:

Currently, the first two rules have no possibility of being violated because the only structured variable type is the one for key caches. These rules will assume greater significance if some other type of structured variable is created in the future.

With one exception, you can refer to structured variable components using compound names in any context where simple variable names can occur. For example, you can assign a value to a structured variable using a command-line option:

shell> mysqld --hot_cache.key_buffer_size=64K

In an option file, use this syntax:

[mysqld]
hot_cache.key_buffer_size=64K

If you start the server with this option, it creates a key cache named hot_cache with a size of 64KB in addition to the default key cache that has a default size of 8MB.

Suppose that you start the server as follows:

shell> mysqld --key_buffer_size=256K \
         --extra_cache.key_buffer_size=128K \
         --extra_cache.key_cache_block_size=2048

In this case, the server sets the size of the default key cache to 256KB. (You could also have written --default.key_buffer_size=256K.) In addition, the server creates a second key cache named extra_cache that has a size of 128KB, with the size of block buffers for caching table index blocks set to 2048 bytes.

The following example starts the server with three different key caches having sizes in a 3:1:1 ratio:

shell> mysqld --key_buffer_size=6M \
         --hot_cache.key_buffer_size=2M \
         --cold_cache.key_buffer_size=2M

Structured variable values may be set and retrieved at runtime as well. For example, to set a key cache named hot_cache to a size of 10MB, use either of these statements:

mysql> SET GLOBAL hot_cache.key_buffer_size = 10*1024*1024;
mysql> SET @@global.hot_cache.key_buffer_size = 10*1024*1024;

To retrieve the cache size, do this:

mysql> SELECT @@global.hot_cache.key_buffer_size;

However, the following statement does not work. The variable is not interpreted as a compound name, but as a simple string for a LIKE pattern-matching operation:

mysql> SHOW GLOBAL VARIABLES LIKE 'hot_cache.key_buffer_size';

This is the exception to being able to use structured variable names anywhere a simple variable name may occur.