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Best Practices for Importing 50 TiB Data

This document provides best practices for importing large volumes of data into TiDB, including some key factors and steps that affect data import. We have successfully imported data of a large single table over 50 TiB into both the internal environment and customer's environment, and have accumulated best practices based on these real application scenarios, which can help you import data more smoothly and efficiently.

TiDB Lightning (Physical Import Mode) is a comprehensive and efficient data import tool used for importing data into empty tables and initializing empty clusters, and uses files as the data source. TiDB Lightning provides two running modes: a single instance and parallel import. You can import source files of different sizes.

  • If the data size of the source files is within 10 TiB, it is recommended to use a single instance of TiDB Lightning for the import.
  • If the data size of the source files exceeds 10 TiB, it is recommended to use multiple instances of TiDB Lightning for Parallel Import.
  • If the source file data scale is exceptionally large (larger than 50 TiB), in addition to parallel importing, you need to make certain preparations and optimizations based on the characteristics of the source data, table definitions, and parameter configurations to achieve smoother and faster large-scale data import.

The following sections apply to both importing multiple tables and importing large single tables:

The best practices for importing large single tables are described separately in the following section because of its special requirements:

Key factors

When you import data, some key factors can affect import performance and might even cause import to fail. Some common critical factors are as follows:

  • Source files

    • Whether the data within a single file is sorted by the primary key. Sorted data can achieve optimal import performance.
    • Whether overlapping primary keys or non-null unique indexes exist between source files imported by multiple TiDB Lightning instances. The smaller the overlap is, the better the import performance.
  • Table definitions

    • The number and size of secondary indexes per table can affect the import speed. Fewer indexes result in faster imports and less space consumption after import.
    • Index data size = Number of indexes * Index size * Number of rows.
  • Compression ratio

    • Data imported into a TiDB cluster is stored in a compressed format. The compression ratio cannot be calculated in advance. It can only be determined after the data is actually imported into the TiKV cluster.
    • As a best practice, you can first import a small portion of the data (for example, 10%) to obtain the corresponding compression ratio of the cluster, and then use it to estimate the compression ratio of the entire data import.
  • Configuration parameters

    • region-concurrency: The concurrency of TiDB Lightning main logical processing.
    • send-kv-pairs: The number of Key-Value pairs sent by TiDB Lightning to TiKV in a single request.
    • disk-quota: The disk quota used by TiDB Lightning local temp files when using the physical import mode.
    • GOMEMLIMIT: TiDB Lightning is implemented in the Go language. Configure GOMEMLIMIT properly.
  • Data validation

    After data and index import is completed, the ADMIN CHECKSUM statement is executed on each table, and the checksum value is compared with the local checksum value of TiDB Lightning. When many tables exist, or an individual table has a large number of rows, the checksum phase can take a long time.

  • The analyze operation

    After the checksum is successfully completed, the ANALYZE TABLE statement is executed on each table to generate the optimal execution plan. The analyze operation can be time-consuming when dealing with a large number of tables or an individual table with a significant amount of data.

  • Relevant issues

    During the actual process of importing 50 TiB of data, certain issues might occur that are only exposed when dealing with a massive number of source files and large-scale clusters. When choosing a product version, it is recommended to check whether the corresponding issues have been fixed.

    The following issues have been resolved in v6.5.3, v7.1.0, and later versions:

    • Issue-14745: After the import is completed, a large number of temporary files are left in the TiKV import directory.
    • Issue-6426: The PD range scheduling interface might fail to scatter regions, resulting in timeout issues. Before v6.2.0, global scheduling is disabled by default, which can avoid triggering this problem.
    • Issue-43079: TiDB Lightning fails to refresh the Region Peers information during retry for NotLeader errors.
    • Issue-43291: TiDB Lightning does not retry in cases where temporary files are not found (the "No such file or directory" error).

Prepare source files

  • When generating source files, it is preferable to sort them by the primary key within a single file. If the table definition does not have a primary key, you can add an auto-increment primary key. In this case, the order of the file content does not matter.
  • When assigning source files to multiple TiDB Lightning instances, try to avoid the situation where overlapping primary keys or non-null unique indexes exist between multiple source files. If the generated files are globally sorted, they can be distributed into different TiDB Lightning instances based on ranges to achieve optimal import performance.
  • Control each file to be less than 96 MiB in size during file generation.
  • If a file is exceptionally large and exceeds 256 MiB, enable strict-format.

Estimate storage space

You can use either of the following two methods to estimate the storage space required for importing data:

  • Assuming the total data size is A, the total index size is B, the replication factor is 3, and the compression ratio is α (typically around 2.5), the overall occupied space can be calculated as: (A+B)*3/α. This method is primarily used for estimating without performing any data import, to plan the cluster topology.
  • Import only 10% of the data and multiply the actual occupied space by 10 to estimate the final space usage for that batch of data. This method is more accurate, especially when you import a large amount of data.

Note that it is recommended to reserve 20% of storage space, because background tasks such as compaction and snapshot replication also consume a portion of the storage space.

Change configuration parameters

  • region-concurrency: The concurrency of TiDB Lightning main logical processing. During parallel importing, it is recommended to set it to 75% of the CPU cores to prevent resource overload and potential OOM issues.
  • send-kv-pairs: The number of Key-Value pairs sent by TiDB Lightning to TiKV in a single request. It is recommended to adjust this value based on the formula send-kv-pairs * row-size < 1 MiB. Starting from v7.2.0, this parameter is replaced by send-kv-size, and no additional setting is required.
  • disk-quota: It is recommended to ensure that the sorting directory space of TiDB Lightning is larger than the size of the data source. If you cannot ensure that, you can set disk-quota to 80% of the sorting directory space of TiDB Lightning. In this way, TiDB Lightning will sort and write data in batches according to the specified disk-quota, but note that this approach might result in lower import performance compared to a complete sorting process.
  • GOMEMLIMIT: TiDB Lightning is implemented in the Go language. Setting GOMEMLIMIT to 80% of the instance memory to reduce the probability of OOM caused by the Go GC mechanism.

For more information about TiDB Lightning parameters, see TiDB Lightning configuration parameters.

Resolve the "checksum mismatch" error

Conflicts might occur during data validation. The error message is "checksum mismatch". To resolve this issue, take the following steps as needed:

  1. In the source data, check for conflicted primary keys or unique keys, and resolve the conflicts before reimporting. In most cases, this is the most common cause.
  2. Check if the table primary key or unique key definition is reasonable. If not, modify the table definition and reimport data.
  3. If the issue persists after following the preceding two steps, further examination is required to determine whether a small amount (less than 10%) of unexpected conflicting data exists in the source data. To let TiDB Lightning detect and resolve conflicting data, enable conflict detection.

Enable checkpoint

For importing a large volume of data, it is essential to refer to Lightning Checkpoints and enable checkpoints. It is recommended to prioritize using MySQL as the driver to avoid losing the checkpoint information if TiDB Lightning is running in a container environment where the container might exit and delete the checkpoint information.

If you encounter insufficient space in downstream TiKV during import, you can manually run the kill command (without the -9 option) on all TiDB Lightning instances. After scaling up the capacity, you can resume the import based on the checkpoint information.

Best practices for importing a large single table

Importing multiple tables can increase the time required for checksum and analyze operations, sometimes exceeding the time required for data import itself. However, it is generally not necessary to adjust the configuration. If one or more large tables exist among the multiple tables, it is recommended to separate the source files of these large tables and import them separately.

This section provides the best practices for importing large single tables. There is no strict definition for a large single table, but it is generally considered to meet one of the following criteria:

  • The table size exceeds 10 TiB.
  • The number of rows exceeds 1 billion and the number of columns exceeds 50 in a wide table.

Generate source files

Follow the steps outlined in the Prepare source files.

For a large single table, if global sorting is not achievable but sorting within each file based on the primary key is possible, and the file is a standard CSV file, it is recommended to generate large single files with each around 20 GiB.

Then, enable strict-format. This approach reduces the overlap of primary and unique keys in the imported files between TiDB Lightning instances, and TiDB Lightning instances can split the large files before importing to achieve optimal import performance.

Plan cluster topology

Prepare TiDB Lightning instances to make each instance process 5 TiB to 10 TiB of source data. Deploy one TiDB Lightning instance on each node. For the specifications of the nodes, refer to the environment requirements of TiDB Lightning instances.

Change configuration parameters

  • Set region-concurrency to 75% of the number of cores of the TiDB Lightning instance.
  • Set send-kv-pairs to 3200. This method applies to TiDB v7.1.0 and earlier versions. Starting from v7.2.0, this parameter is replaced by send-kv-size, and no additional setting is required.
  • Adjust GOMEMLIMIT to 80% of the memory on the node where the instance is located.

If the PD Scatter Region latency during the import process exceeds 30 minutes, consider the following optimizations:

  • Check whether the TiKV cluster encounters any I/O bottlenecks.
  • Increase TiKV raftstore.apply-pool-size from the default value of 2 to 4 or 8.
  • Reduce TiDB Lightning region-split-concurrency to half the number of CPU cores, with a minimum value of 1.

Disable the analyze operation

In the case of a large single table (for example, with over 1 billion rows and more than 50 columns), it is recommended to disable the analyze operation (analyze="off") during the import process, and manually execute the ANALYZE TABLE statement after the import is completed.

For more information about the configuration of analyze, see TiDB Lightning task configuration.

Troubleshooting

If you encounter problems while using TiDB Lightning, see Troubleshoot TiDB Lightning.

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