14.5.13.5 Adaptive Hash Indexes

The feature known as the adaptive hash index (AHI) lets InnoDB perform more like an in-memory database on systems with appropriate combinations of workload and ample memory for the buffer pool, without sacrificing any transactional features or reliability. This feature is enabled by the innodb_adaptive_hash_index option, or turned off by the --skip-innodb_adaptive_hash_index at server startup.

Based on the observed pattern of searches, MySQL builds a hash index using a prefix of the index key. The prefix of the key can be any length, and it may be that only some of the values in the B-tree appear in the hash index. Hash indexes are built on demand for those pages of the index that are often accessed.

If a table fits almost entirely in main memory, a hash index can speed up queries by enabling direct lookup of any element, turning the index value into a sort of pointer. InnoDB has a mechanism that monitors index searches. If InnoDB notices that queries could benefit from building a hash index, it does so automatically.

With some workloads, the speedup from hash index lookups greatly outweighs the extra work to monitor index lookups and maintain the hash index structure. Sometimes, the read/write lock that guards access to the adaptive hash index can become a source of contention under heavy workloads, such as multiple concurrent joins. Queries with LIKE operators and % wildcards also tend not to benefit from the AHI. For workloads where the adaptive hash index is not needed, turning it off reduces unnecessary performance overhead. Because it is difficult to predict in advance whether this feature is appropriate for a particular system, consider running benchmarks with it both enabled and disabled, using a realistic workload.

The hash index is always built based on an existing B-tree index on the table. InnoDB can build a hash index on a prefix of any length of the key defined for the B-tree, depending on the pattern of searches that InnoDB observes for the B-tree index. A hash index can be partial, covering only those pages of the index that are often accessed.

You can monitor the use of the adaptive hash index and the contention for its use in the SEMAPHORES section of the output of the SHOW ENGINE INNODB STATUS command. If you see many threads waiting on an RW-latch created in btr0sea.c, then it might be useful to disable adaptive hash indexing.

For more information about the performance characteristics of hash indexes, see Section 8.3.8, “Comparison of B-Tree and Hash Indexes”.