8.2.1.14 Block Nested-Loop and Batched Key Access Joins

8.2.1.14.1 Join Buffer Management for Block Nested-Loop and Batched Key Access Algorithms
8.2.1.14.2 Block Nested-Loop Algorithm for Outer Joins and Semi-Joins
8.2.1.14.3 Batched Key Access Joins

In MySQL 5.6, a Batched Key Access (BKA) Join algorithm is available that uses both index access to the joined table and a join buffer. The BKA algorithm supports inner join, outer join, and semi-join operations, including nested outer joins. Benefits of BKA include improved join performance due to more efficient table scanning. Also, the Block Nested-Loop (BNL) Join algorithm previously used only for inner joins is extended and can be employed for outer join and semi-join operations, including nested outer joins.

The following sections discuss the join buffer management that underlies the extension of the original BNL algorithm, the extended BNL algorithm, and the BKA algorithm. For information about semi-join strategies, see Section 8.2.1.18.1, “Optimizing Subqueries with Semi-Join Transformations”

8.2.1.14.1 Join Buffer Management for Block Nested-Loop and Batched Key Access Algorithms

In MySQL 5.6, MySQL Server can employ join buffers to execute not only inner joins without index access to the inner table, but also outer joins and semi-joins that appear after subquery flattening. Moreover, a join buffer can be effectively used when there is an index access to the inner table.

The join buffer management code slightly more efficiently utilizes join buffer space when storing the values of the interesting row columns: No additional bytes are allocated in buffers for a row column if its value is NULL, and the minimum number of bytes is allocated for any value of the VARCHAR type.

The code supports two types of buffers, regular and incremental. Suppose that join buffer B1 is employed to join tables t1 and t2 and the result of this operation is joined with table t3 using join buffer B2:

  • A regular join buffer contains columns from each join operand. If B2 is a regular join buffer, each row r put into B2 is composed of the columns of a row r1 from B1 and the interesting columns of a matching row r2 from table t2.

  • An incremental join buffer contains only columns from rows of the table produced by the second join operand. That is, it is incremental to a row from the first operand buffer. If B2 is an incremental join buffer, it contains the interesting columns of the row r2 together with a link to the row r1 from B1.

Incremental join buffers are always incremental relative to a join buffer from an earlier join operation, so the buffer from the first join operation is always a regular buffer. In the example just given, the buffer B1 used to join tables t1 and t2 must be a regular buffer.

Each row of the incremental buffer used for a join operation contains only the interesting columns of a row from the table to be joined. These columns are augmented with a reference to the interesting columns of the matched row from the table produced by the first join operand. Several rows in the incremental buffer can refer to the same row r whose columns are stored in the previous join buffers insofar as all these rows match row r.

Incremental buffers enable less frequent copying of columns from buffers used for previous join operations. This provides a savings in buffer space because in the general case a row produced by the first join operand can be matched by several rows produced by the second join operand. It is unnecessary to make several copies of a row from the first operand. Incremental buffers also provide a savings in processing time due to the reduction in copying time.

As of MySQL 5.6.3, the block_nested_loop and batched_key_access flags of the optimizer_switch system variable control how the optimizer uses the Block Nested-Loop and Batched Key Access join algorithms. By default, block_nested_loop is on and batched_key_access is off. See Section 8.8.5.2, “Controlling Switchable Optimizations”.

Before MySQL 5.6.3, the optimizer_join_cache_level system variable controls join buffer management. For the possible values of this variable and their meanings, see the description in Section 5.1.4, “Server System Variables”.

For information about semi-join strategies, see Section 8.2.1.18.1, “Optimizing Subqueries with Semi-Join Transformations”

8.2.1.14.2 Block Nested-Loop Algorithm for Outer Joins and Semi-Joins

In MySQL 5.6, the original implementation of the BNL algorithm is extended to support outer join and semi-join operations.

When these operations are executed with a join buffer, each row put into the buffer is supplied with a match flag.

If an outer join operation is executed using a join buffer, each row of the table produced by the second operand is checked for a match against each row in the join buffer. When a match is found, a new extended row is formed (the original row plus columns from the second operand) and sent for further extensions by the remaining join operations. In addition, the match flag of the matched row in the buffer is enabled. After all rows of the table to be joined have been examined, the join buffer is scanned. Each row from the buffer that does not have its match flag enabled is extended by NULL complements (NULL values for each column in the second operand) and sent for further extensions by the remaining join operations.

As of MySQL 5.6.3, the block_nested_loop flag of the optimizer_switch system variable controls how the optimizer uses the Block Nested-Loop algorithm. By default, block_nested_loop is on. See Section 8.8.5.2, “Controlling Switchable Optimizations”.

Before MySQL 5.6.3, the optimizer_join_cache_level system variable controls join buffer management. For the possible values of this variable and their meanings, see the description in Section 5.1.4, “Server System Variables”.

In EXPLAIN output, use of BNL for a table is signified when the Extra value contains Using join buffer (Block Nested Loop) and the type value is ALL, index, or range.

For information about semi-join strategies, see Section 8.2.1.18.1, “Optimizing Subqueries with Semi-Join Transformations”

8.2.1.14.3 Batched Key Access Joins

MySQL 5.6.3 implements a method of joining tables called the Batched Key Access (BKA) join algorithm. BKA can be applied when there is an index access to the table produced by the second join operand. Like the BNL join algorithm, the BKA join algorithm employs a join buffer to accumulate the interesting columns of the rows produced by the first operand of the join operation. Then the BKA algorithm builds keys to access the table to be joined for all rows in the buffer and submits these keys in a batch to the database engine for index lookups. The keys are submitted to the engine through the Multi-Range Read (MRR) interface (see Section 8.2.1.13, “Multi-Range Read Optimization”). After submission of the keys, the MRR engine functions perform lookups in the index in an optimal way, fetching the rows of the joined table found by these keys, and starts feeding the BKA join algorithm with matching rows. Each matching row is coupled with a reference to a row in the join buffer.

When BKA is used, the value of join_buffer_size defines how large the batch of keys is in each request to the storage engine. The larger the buffer, the more sequential access will be to the right hand table of a join operation, which can significantly improve performance.

For BKA to be used, the batched_key_access flag of the optimizer_switch system variable must be set to on. BKA uses MRR, so the mrr flag must also be on. Currently, the cost estimation for MRR is too pessimistic. Hence, it is also necessary for mrr_cost_based to be off for BKA to be used. The following setting enables BKA:

mysql> SET optimizer_switch='mrr=on,mrr_cost_based=off,batched_key_access=on';

There are two scenarios by which MRR functions execute:

  • The first scenario is used for conventional disk-based storage engines such as InnoDB and MyISAM. For these engines, usually the keys for all rows from the join buffer are submitted to the MRR interface at once. Engine-specific MRR functions perform index lookups for the submitted keys, get row IDs (or primary keys) from them, and then fetch rows for all these selected row IDs one by one by request from BKA algorithm. Every row is returned with an association reference that enables access to the matched row in the join buffer. The rows are fetched by the MRR functions in an optimal way: They are fetched in the row ID (primary key) order. This improves performance because reads are in disk order rather than random order.

  • The second scenario is used for remote storage engines such as NDB. A package of keys for a portion of rows from the join buffer, together with their associations, is sent by a MySQL Server (SQL node) to MySQL Cluster data nodes. In return, the SQL node receives a package (or several packages) of matching rows coupled with corresponding associations. The BKA join algorithm takes these rows and builds new joined rows. Then a new set of keys is sent to the data nodes and the rows from the returned packages are used to build new joined rows. The process continues until the last keys from the join buffer are sent to the data nodes, and the SQL node has received and joined all rows matching these keys. This improves performance because fewer key-bearing packages sent by the SQL node to the data nodes means fewer round trips between it and the data nodes to perform the join operation.

With the first scenario, a portion of the join buffer is reserved to store row IDs (primary keys) selected by index lookups and passed as a parameter to the MRR functions.

There is no special buffer to store keys built for rows from the join buffer. Instead, a function that builds the key for the next row in the buffer is passed as a parameter to the MRR functions.

In EXPLAIN output, use of BKA for a table is signified when the Extra value contains Using join buffer (Batched Key Access) and the type value is ref or eq_ref.