18.6.11 MySQL Cluster Replication Conflict Resolution

When using a replication setup involving multiple masters (including circular replication), it is possible that different masters may try to update the same row on the slave with different data. Conflict resolution in MySQL Cluster Replication provides a means of resolving such conflicts by permitting a user-defined resolution column to be used to determine whether or not an update on a given master should be applied on the slave.

Some types of conflict resolution supported by MySQL Cluster (NDB$OLD(), NDB$MAX(), NDB$MAX_DELETE_WIN()) implement this user-defined column as a timestamp column (although its type cannot be TIMESTAMP, as explained later in this section). These types of conflict resolution are always applied a row-by-row basis rather than a transactional basis. The epoch-based conflict resolution functions introduced in MySQL Cluster NDB 7.2.1 (NDB$EPOCH() and NDB$EPOCH_TRANS()) compare the order in which epochs are replicated (and thus these functions are transactional). Different methods can be used to compare resolution column values on the slave when conflicts occur, as explained later in this section; the method used can be set on a per-table basis.

You should also keep in mind that it is the application's responsibility to ensure that the resolution column is correctly populated with relevant values, so that the resolution function can make the appropriate choice when determining whether to apply an update.

Requirements.  Preparations for conflict resolution must be made on both the master and the slave. These tasks are described in the following list:

When using the functions NDB$OLD(), NDB$MAX(), and NDB$MAX_DELETE_WIN() for timestamp-based conflict resolution, we often refer to the column used for determining updates as a timestamp column. However, the data type of this column is never TIMESTAMP; instead, its data type should be INT (INTEGER) or BIGINT. The timestamp column should also be UNSIGNED and NOT NULL.

The NDB$EPOCH() and NDB$EPOCH_TRANS() functions discussed later in this section work by comparing the relative order of replication epochs applied on a primary and secondary MySQL Cluster, and do not make use of timestamps.

Master column control.  We can see update operations in terms of before and after images—that is, the states of the table before and after the update is applied. Normally, when updating a table with a primary key, the before image is not of great interest; however, when we need to determine on a per-update basis whether or not to use the updated values on a replication slave, we need to make sure that both images are written to the master's binary log. This is done with the --ndb-log-update-as-write option for mysqld, as described later in this section.


Whether logging of complete rows or of updated columns only is done is decided when the MySQL server is started, and cannot be changed online; you must either restart mysqld, or start a new mysqld instance with different logging options.

Logging Full or Partial Rows (--ndb-log-updated-only Option)

Command-Line Format--ndb-log-updated-only
System Variable Namendb_log_updated_only
Variable ScopeGlobal
Dynamic VariableYes
 Permitted Values

For purposes of conflict resolution, there are two basic methods of logging rows, as determined by the setting of the --ndb-log-updated-only option for mysqld:

It is usually sufficient—and more efficient—to log updated columns only; however, if you need to log full rows, you can do so by setting --ndb-log-updated-only to 0 or OFF.

--ndb-log-update-as-write Option: Logging Changed Data as Updates

Command-Line Format--ndb-log-update-as-write
System Variable Namendb_log_update_as_write
Variable ScopeGlobal
Dynamic VariableYes
 Permitted Values

The setting of the MySQL Server's --ndb-log-update-as-write option determines whether logging is performed with or without the before image. Because conflict resolution is done in the MySQL Server's update handler, it is necessary to control logging on the master such that updates are updates and not writes; that is, such that updates are treated as changes in existing rows rather than the writing of new rows (even though these replace existing rows). This option is turned on by default; in other words, updates are treated as writes. (That is, updates are by default written as write_row events in the binary log, rather than as update_row events.) To turn off the option, start the master mysqld with --ndb-log-update-as-write=0 or --ndb-log-update-as-write=OFF.

Conflict resolution control.  Conflict resolution is usually enabled on the server where conflicts can occur. Like logging method selection, it is enabled by entries in the mysql.ndb_replication table.

The ndb_replication system table.  To enable conflict resolution, it is necessary to create an ndb_replication table in the mysql system database on the master, the slave, or both, depending on the conflict resolution type and method to be employed. This table is used to control logging and conflict resolution functions on a per-table basis, and has one row per table involved in replication. ndb_replication is created and filled with control information on the server where the conflict is to be resolved. In a simple master-slave setup where data can also be changed locally on the slave this will typically be the slave. In a more complex master-master (2-way) replication schema this will usually be all of the masters involved. Each row in mysql.ndb_replication corresponds to a table being replicated, and specifies how to log and resolve conflicts (that is, which conflict resolution function, if any, to use) for that table. The definition of the mysql.ndb_replication table is shown here:

CREATE TABLE mysql.ndb_replication  (
    db VARBINARY(63),
    table_name VARBINARY(63),
    server_id INT UNSIGNED,
    binlog_type INT UNSIGNED,
    conflict_fn VARBINARY(128),
    PRIMARY KEY USING HASH (db, table_name, server_id)
PARTITION BY KEY(db,table_name);

The columns in this table are described in the next few paragraphs.

db.  The name of the database containing the table to be replicated.

Beginning with MySQL Cluster NDB 7.2.5, you may employ either or both of the wildcards _ and % as part of the database name. Matching is similar to what is implemented for the LIKE operator.

table_name.  The name of the table to be replicated.

Beginning with MySQL Cluster NDB 7.2.5, the table name may include either or both of the wildcards _ and %. Matching is similar to what is implemented for the LIKE operator.

server_id.  The unique server ID of the MySQL instance (SQL node) where the table resides.

binlog_type.  The type of binary logging to be employed. This is determined as shown in the following table:

ValueInternal ValueDescription
0NBT_DEFAULTUse server default
1NBT_NO_LOGGINGDo not log this table in the binary log
2NBT_UPDATED_ONLYOnly updated attributes are logged
3NBT_FULLLog full row, even if not updated (MySQL server default behavior)
4NBT_USE_UPDATE(For generating NBT_UPDATED_ONLY_USE_UPDATE and NBT_FULL_USE_UPDATE values only—not intended for separate use)
5[Not used]---
6NBT_UPDATED_ONLY_USE_UPDATE (equal to NBT_UPDATED_ONLY | NBT_USE_UPDATE)Use updated attributes, even if values are unchanged
7NBT_FULL_USE_UPDATE (equal to NBT_FULL | NBT_USE_UPDATE)Use full row, even if values are unchanged

conflict_fn.  The conflict resolution function to be applied. This function must be specified as one of those shown in the following list:

These functions are described in the next few paragraphs.

NDB$OLD(column_name).  If the value of column_name is the same on both the master and the slave, then the update is applied; otherwise, the update is not applied on the slave and an exception is written to the log. This is illustrated by the following pseudocode:

if (master_old_column_value == slave_current_column_value)

This function can be used for same value wins conflict resolution. This type of conflict resolution ensures that updates are not applied on the slave from the wrong master.


The column value from the master's before image is used by this function.

NDB$MAX(column_name).  If the timestamp column value for a given row coming from the master is higher than that on the slave, it is applied; otherwise it is not applied on the slave. This is illustrated by the following pseudocode:

if (master_new_column_value > slave_current_column_value)

This function can be used for greatest timestamp wins conflict resolution. This type of conflict resolution ensures that, in the event of a conflict, the version of the row that was most recently updated is the version that persists.


The column value from the master's after image is used by this function.

NDB$MAX_DELETE_WIN(column_name).  This is a variation on NDB$MAX(). Due to the fact that no timestamp is available for a delete operation, a delete using NDB$MAX() is in fact processed as NDB$OLD. However, for some use cases, this is not optimal. For NDB$MAX_DELETE_WIN(), if the timestamp column value for a given row adding or updating an existing row coming from the master is higher than that on the slave, it is applied. However, delete operations are treated as always having the higher value. This is illustrated in the following pseudocode:

if ( (master_new_column_value > slave_current_column_value)
      operation.type == "delete")

This function can be used for greatest timestamp, delete wins conflict resolution. This type of conflict resolution ensures that, in the event of a conflict, the version of the row that was deleted or (otherwise) most recently updated is the version that persists.


As with NDB$MAX(), the column value from the master's after image is the value used by this function.

NDB$EPOCH() and NDB$EPOCH_TRANS().  The NDB$EPOCH() function, available beginning with MySQL Cluster NDB 7.2.1, tracks the order in which replicated epochs are applied on a slave MySQL Cluster relative to changes originating on the slave. This relative ordering is used to determine whether changes originating on the slave are concurrent with any changes that originate locally, and are therefore potentially in conflict.

Most of what follows in the description of NDB$EPOCH() also applies to NDB$EPOCH_TRANS(). Any exceptions are noted in the text.

NDB$EPOCH() is asymmetric, operating on one MySQL Cluster in a two-cluster circular replication configuration (sometimes referred to as active-active replication). We refer here to cluster on which it operates as the primary, and the other as the secondary. The slave on the primary is responsible for detecting and handling conflicts, while the slave on the secondary is not involved in any conflict detection or handling.

When the slave on the primary detects conflicts, it injects events into its own binary log to compensate for these; this ensures that the secondary MySQL Cluster eventually realigns itself with the primary and so keeps the primary and secondary from diverging. This compensation and realignment mechanism requires that the primary MySQL Cluster always wins any conflicts with the secondary—that is, that the primary's changes are always used rather than those from the secondary in event of a conflict. This primary always wins rule has the following implications:

NDB$EPOCH() and NDB$EPOCH_TRANS() do not require any user schema modifications, or application changes to provide conflict detection. However, careful thought must be given to the schema used, and the access patterns used, to verify that the complete system behaves within specified limits.

Each of the NDB$EPOCH() and NDB$EPOCH_TRANS() functions can take an optional parameter; this is the number of bits to use to represent the lower 32 bits of the epoch, and should be set to no less than

CEIL( LOG2( TimeBetweenGlobalCheckpoints / TimeBetweenEpochs ), 1) 

For the default values of these configuration parameters (2000 and 100 milliseconds, respectively), this gives a value of 5 bits, so the default value (6) should be sufficient, unless other values are used for TimeBetweenGlobalCheckpoints, TimeBetweenEpochs, or both. A value that is too small can result in false positives, while one that is too large could lead to excessive wasted space in the database.

Both NDB$EPOCH() and NDB$EPOCH_TRANS() insert entries for conflicting rows into the relevant exceptions tables, provided that these tables have been defined according to the same exception table schema rules as described elsewhere in this section (see NDB$OLD(column_name)). Note that you need to create any exception table before creating the table with which it is to be used.

As with the other conflict detection functions discussed in this section, NDB$EPOCH() and NDB$EPOCH_TRANS() are activated by including relevant entries in the mysql.ndb_replication table (see The ndb_replication system table). The roles of the primary and secondary MySQL Clusters in this scenario are fully determined by mysql.ndb_replication table entries.

Because the conflict detection algorithms employed by NDB$EPOCH() and NDB$EPOCH_TRANS() are asymmetric, you must use different values for the primary slave's and secondary slave's server_id entries.

Prior to MySQL Cluster NDB 7.2.17, conflict between DELETE operations were handled like those for UPDATE operations, and within the same epoch were considered in conflict. In MySQL Cluster NDB 7.2.17 and later, a conflict between DELETE operations alone is not sufficient to trigger a conflict using NDB$EPOCH() or NDB$EPOCH_TRANS(), and the relative placement within epochs does not matter. (Bug "18454499)

NDB$EPOCH() and NDB$EPOCH_TRANS() status variables.  MySQL Cluster NDB 7.2.1 introduces several status variables that can be used to monitor NDB$EPOCH() and NDB$EPOCH_TRANS() conflict detection. You can see how many rows have been found in conflict by NDB$EPOCH() since this slave was last restarted from the current value of the Ndb_conflict_fn_epoch system status variable.

Ndb_conflict_fn_epoch_trans provides the number of rows that have been found directly in conflict by NDB$EPOCH_TRANS(); the number of rows actually realigned, including those affected due to their membership in or dependency on the same transactions as other conflicting rows, is given by Ndb_conflict_trans_row_reject_count.

For more information, see Section, “MySQL Cluster Status Variables”.

Limitations on NDB$EPOCH().  The following limitations currently apply when using NDB$EPOCH() to perform conflict detection:

NDB$EPOCH_TRANS().  NDB$EPOCH_TRANS() extends the NDB$EPOCH() function, and, like NDB$EPOCH(), is available beginning with MySQL Cluster NDB 7.2.1. Conflicts are detected and handled in the same way using the primary wins all rule (see NDB$EPOCH() and NDB$EPOCH_TRANS()) but with the extra condition that any other rows updated in the same transaction in which the conflict occurred are also regarded as being in conflict. In other words, where NDB$EPOCH() realigns individual conflicting rows on the secondary, NDB$EPOCH_TRANS() realigns conflicting transactions.

In addition, any transactions which are detectably dependent on a conflicting transaction are also regarded as being in conflict, these dependencies being determined by the contents of the secondary cluster's binary log. Since the binary log contains only data modification operations (inserts, updates, and deletes), only overlapping data modifications are used to determine dependencies between transactions.

NDB$EPOCH_TRANS() is subject to the same conditions and limitations as NDB$EPOCH(), and in addition requires that Version 2 binary log row events are used (--log-bin-use-v1-row-events equal to 0), which adds a storage overhead of 2 bytes per event in the binary log. In addition, all transaction IDs must be recorded in the secondary's binary log (--ndb-log-transaction-id option), which adds a further variable overhead (up to 13 bytes per row).


NULL.  Indicates that conflict resolution is not to be used for the corresponding table.

Status information.  A server status variable Ndb_conflict_fn_max provides a count of the number of times that a row was not applied on the current SQL node due to greatest timestamp wins conflict resolution since the last time that mysqld was started.

The number of times that a row was not applied as the result of same timestamp wins conflict resolution on a given mysqld since the last time it was restarted is given by the global status variable Ndb_conflict_fn_old. In addition to incrementing Ndb_conflict_fn_old, the primary key of the row that was not used is inserted into an exceptions table, as explained later in this section.

Exceptions table.  To use the NDB$OLD() conflict resolution function, it is also necessary to create an exceptions table corresponding to each NDB table for which this type of conflict resolution is to be employed. This is also true when using NDB$EPOCH() or NDB$EPOCH_TRANS() in MySQL Cluster NDB 7.2.1 and later. The name of this table is that of the table for which conflict resolution is to be applied, with the string $EX appended. (For example, if the name of the original table is mytable, the name of the corresponding exception table name should be mytable$EX.) This table is created as follows:

CREATE TABLE original_table$EX  (
    server_id INT UNSIGNED,
    master_server_id INT UNSIGNED,
    master_epoch BIGINT UNSIGNED,
    count INT UNSIGNED,
    PRIMARY KEY(server_id, master_server_id, master_epoch, count)

The first four columns are required. Following these columns, the columns making up the original table's primary key should be copied in the order in which they are used to define the primary key of the original table.


The names of the first four columns and the columns matching the original table's primary key columns are not critical; however, we suggest for reasons of clarity and consistency, that you use the names shown here for the server_id, master_server_id, master_epoch, and count columns, and that you use the same names as in the original table for the columns matching those in the original table's primary key.

The data types for the columns duplicating the primary key columns of the original table should be the same as for (or larger than) the original columns.

Additional columns may optionally be defined following these columns, but not before any of them; any such extra columns cannot be NOT NULL. The exception table's primary key must be defined as shown. The exception table must use the NDB storage engine. An example that uses NDB$OLD() with an exceptions table is shown later in this section.


The mysql.ndb_replication table is read when a data table is set up for replication, so the row corresponding to a table to be replicated must be inserted into mysql.ndb_replication before the table to be replicated is created.

Examples.  The following examples assume that you have already a working MySQL Cluster replication setup, as described in Section 18.6.5, “Preparing the MySQL Cluster for Replication”, and Section 18.6.6, “Starting MySQL Cluster Replication (Single Replication Channel)”.