JVM Monitoring

To detect long GC pauses, Alluxio administrators can set "alluxio.master.jvm.monitor.enabled=true" for masters or "alluxio.worker.jvm.monitor.enabled=true" for workers. When this is activated, Alluxio will run a monitoring thread which periodically runs Thread.sleep and tests the delay between when it was supposed to wake up and when it actually woke up. A long delay indicates that GC could be taking a long time. If the delay exceeds a certain threshold, the thread will print diagnostic information such memory usage and garbage collection counts. These parameters further control the behavior of the monitor thread:

Property Default Description
alluxio.jvm.monitor.warn.threshold 10sec Delay required to log at WARN level 1sec Delay required to log at INFO level
alluxio.jvm.monitor.sleep.interval 1sec The time for the JVM monitor thread to sleep

Improve Cold Read Performance

When the application cold-reads from UFS, multiple clients may try to read the same part of the input data at about the same time (e.g., to start a SparkSQL query, all Spark executors may read the same paquet header); as a result, the same block may be cached on every node. This can be a waste of UFS bandwidth as all workers are reading the same data from UFS, as well as the Alluxio storage capacity is not effectively used as excessive copies of the same data may evict other valuable cached data., and may lead to much worse performance when the connection UFS is slow and Alluxio space is almost full.

This performance degradation is due to less-optimized UFS read schedule which is termed as the “thundering-herd" problem in Alluxio. One way to resolve this problem is to apply deterministic hashing. By specifying “", Alluxio will select only one “random" worker to read the given block from UFS. As a result, even multiple Alluxio clients are requesting the same block from different nodes, only that “selected" worker will read from UFS and cache only on that worker. Sometimes we want more parallelism, then one can also change the value of “" from 1 (default) to N so there will be no more than N workers working at the same time to cold-read and cache this block. Note that, for different block even in the same file, they will select different “N" workers and thus achieve balanced load across the cluster.

Locality and short-circuiting

Data locality and short-circuit read will provide substantial performance boost, so it’s important to have the computation framework collocate with the Alluxio worker, so that the Alluxio client from the computation framework has local access to the data. Also importantly, to enable short-circuit reads the Alluxio client and Alluxio worker should be configured with the same hostname. One important property to configure is to set alluxio.user.hostname in the client config, and have the same value set for alluxio.worker.hostname in worker’s site properties.


Journal performance tuning

Property Default Description
alluxio.master.journal.flush.batch.time 5ms Time to wait for batching journal writes.
alluxio.master.journal.flush.timeout 5min The amount of time to keep retrying journal writes before giving up and shutting down the master.

Increasing alluxio.master.journal.flush.batch.time can improve metadata throughput, but reduce metadata latency. To keep master alive across long journal downtimes (e.g. HDFS crashing), set alluxio.master.journal.flush.timeout to a large value

Journal garbage collection

Property Default Description
alluxio.master.journal.checkpoint.period.entries 2000000 The number of journal entries to write before creating a new journal checkpoint.

Journal checkpoints are expensive to create, but decrease startup time by reducing the number of journal entries that the master needs to process during startup. If startup is taking too long, consider reducing this value so that checkpoints happen more often.

UFS block locations cache

Alluxio provides block locations, similar to the HDFS client. If a file block is not in Alluxio storage yet, the Alluxio will still return the UFS block locations. Therefore, if a file block is not in Alluxio storage, the Alluxio master will have to consult the UFS for the UFS block locations, which would require an additional RPC to the UFS. This extra overhead may be expensive, so the Alluxio master maintains a cache to store these UFS block locations. The parameter alluxio.master.ufs.block.location.cache.capacity controls the size of this cache. If it is set to 0, the cache is disabled.

Increasing the cache size will allow the Alluxio master to store more UFS block locations, and be able to return those locations without consulting the UFS, and this may lead to greater metadata throughput, primarily for files which are not resident in Alluxio storage.

UFS Path Cache

When Alluxio mounts a UFS to a path in the Alluxio namespace, the Alluxio master maintains metadata about the UFS namespace. The UFS metadata is pulled into the Alluxio master on demand, when a client accesses a path. When a client accesses a path which does not currently exist in Alluxio, Alluxio may consult the UFS to load the UFS metadata. There are 3 options for loading a missing path: Never, Once, Always. "Never" will never consult the UFS, and "Always" will always interact with the UFS, but the "Once" behavior is approximated in the Alluxio master. The Alluxio master maintains a cache to approximate which UFS paths have been previously loaded, to approximate the "Once" behavior. The parameter alluxio.master.ufs.path.cache.capacity controls the number of paths to store in the cache. A larger cache size will consume more memory, but will better approximate the "Once" behavior.

Additionally, the Alluxio master maintains the UFS path cache asynchronously, in order to avoid synchronous interactions with the UFS. Alluxio uses a thread pool to process the paths asynchronously, and the size of the thread pool is controlled by alluxio.master.ufs.path.cache.threads. Increasing the number of threads can decrease the staleness of the UFS path cache, but may impact performance by increasing work on the Alluxio master, as well as increasing the parallel interactions with the UFS. If this is set to 0, the cache is disabled, and the "Once" setting will behave like the "Always" setting.


Block thread pool size

Alluxio.worker.block.threads.max configures the maximum number of incoming RPC requests to block worker that can be handled. This value is used to configure maximum number of threads in Thrift thread pool with block worker. This value should be greater than the sum of alluxio.user.block.worker.client.threads across concurrent Alluxio clients. Otherwise, the worker connection pool can be drained, preventing new connections from being established.

Async caching

Since Alluxio 1.7.0 improves the performance of cold-reading a block partially or non-sequentially with the default read type. Previously clients used a flag to force full reads of blocks in order to store them into Alluxio to speed up follow up reads on the same blocks. Now these reads for caching purpose will be handled by the Alluxio in the background, vastly decreasing the latency of partial read requests in many workloads. For example, reading the first 10MB of a 512MB block with partial caching on required a read of the entire block (512MB); now the client reads 10MB and continues processing while an Alluxio worker loads the 512MB block in the background.

A tunable configuration for this feature is the “" property. This determines the maximum number of concurrent blocks a worker will attempt to cache. By default the value is high (512), but in cases where large amounts of data are expected to be asynchronously cached concurrently, lowering the value can reduce resource contention (e.g., # of cores)

Netty Configs - Default value is 2048, consider increasing this value if you have a very large number of concurrent client accesses and are seeing threadpool exhausted errors on the worker.

Async eviction and watermarks

There are two modes of eviction in Alluxio, asynchronous and synchronous (default). When the workload are write-heavy, it’s recommended to use the asynchronous eviction. Asynchronous eviction relies on a periodic space reserver thread in each worker to evict data. It waits until the worker storage utilization reaches a configurable high watermark. Then it evicts data based on the eviction policy until it reaches the configurable low watermark. For example, if we had the same 16+100+100=216GB storage configured, we can set eviction to kick in at around 200GB and stop at around 160GB:

Property Value Result
alluxio.worker.tieredstore.level0.watermark.high.ratio 0.9 ~ 200GB (216GB * 0.9)
alluxio.worker.tieredstore.level0.watermark.low.ratio 0.75 ~ 160GB (216GB * 0.75)

It’s recommended to set the high watermark below a threshold to keep an absolute size (e.g. 1~ 5 GB) as buffering. And keep low and high watermarks not too close to each other, otherwise Async eviction will be triggered frequently when space utilization gets close to the high watermark.


Client threads

Alluxio clients cache clients to both master to avoid the overhead of creating a new connection each time. In cases where there are a large number of concurrent clients, these cached clients can take up resources on the master which will degrade performance by causing resource contention. It is best to consider the maximum number of connections accepted by the master and set the thread pools of the clients and master accordingly. For example, if you expect 100 concurrent clients each with up to 10 cached master clients, then you will want to have a master max connection thread pool of at least 1000.

On the client side, these are the configurations to tune: alluxio.user.block.master.client.threads - Default is 10, set this number lower and/or the corresponding master configuration higher if you are running into resource contention on the master. alluxio.user.file.master.client.threads - Default is 10, set this number lower and/or the corresponding master configuration higher if you are running into resource contention on the master.

Loading UFS Metadata

Once a UFS path is mounted to Alluxio, Alluxio maintains metadata on the UFS namespace. However, since interacting with UFS may be costly, the UFS metadata information is pulled into the Alluxio master on demand. This is performed whenever a user lists a directory a lists a file. If a user accesses a particular path, and that path does not exist in Alluxio, Alluxio may then decide to interact with the UFS to get that information. There are 3 ways to configure how to pull in the information on demand: "Always", "Never", and "Once". This configurable by the user, via the user configuration parameter, alluxio.user.file.metadata.load.type, which can be set to "Always", "Never", or "Once". If it is set to "Never", Alluxio will never consult the UFS for a missing Alluxio path. If it is set to "Always", Alluxio will always interact with the UFS for a missing Alluxio path. For "Once", Alluxio will only load it from the UFS the first time, and afterwards, will not consult the UFS. This is approximated via a cache that the Alluxio Master maintains. This user defined configuration parameter only affects how Alluxio loads UFS metadata for paths which do not exist in Alluxio already. If a user access an existing Alluxio path, Alluxio will never consult the UFS, regardless of this configuration setting.

Setting this configuration value is dependent on the workloads. "Once" is a reasonable default value, since it will load any path at least once, but not access the UFS for every single access. This can be commonly used for when once a file is loaded into Alluxio, it is unlikely that the file will be removed from the corresponding UFS. "Never" can be used for scenarios when all writes and reads go only to Alluxio, and there are no direct writes to UFS. In this scenario, the Alluxio metadata will always know about the metadata, so it will never have to consult the UFS. "Always" should be used in scenarios when files a continually being directly added to UFS (not via Alluxio). In this case, Alluxio can always check the UFS to see if there are new files available. Since more frequent loading of metadata is costly with respect to performance, it is recommended to keep the setting as infrequent as possible.

Compared with the UFS sync feature, loading metadata only discovers new files from the UFS. It does not modify any updated metadata of files, such as updated timestamps, or deleted files.

Syncing UFS Metadata

Loading UFS metadata is important for discovering new files from the UFS, but it does not handle any modifications to existing UFS files. Therefore, Alluxio enables syncing the UFS metadata to Alluxio's metadata. To sync the metadata for a particular path, the Alluxio master will query the UFS for the same path, and then update the corresponding Alluxio metadata to match the UFS information. Users can optionally configure Alluxio to "sync" metadata with the UFS when running any Alluxio command. The user defined configuration value alluxio.user.file.metadata.sync.interval controls how often Alluxio operations should sync with the UFS. This configuration parameter defines the interval of time between multiple UFS synchronizations. A value of -1 means no syncing will be performed. 0 means Alluxio will always sync with UFS for every Alluxio operation. Any positive time interval defines the interval in which Alluxio will not re-sync the specified path. For example, using a value of "5m" means Alluxio will sync a particular path at most every 5 minutes.

Since syncing the UFS metadata is an expensive operation, it recommended to not sync very often. However, there may be scenarios when it is desirable to do so. A value of -1 will never sync, so that is appropriate for when all writes go to Alluxio, and not bypassed to UFS. In this scenario, Alluxio will always know about the metadata, so interacting with UFS is not necessary. A value of 0 will perform UFS sync for every single operation, and this is appropriate for when there are many files created or updated directly in the UFS (bypassing Alluxio). In this scenario, Alluxio will always query the latest state of the path from the UFS. Any time interval value is useful for to limit the frequency of UFS syncing. Larger values will perform UFS sync less, but the chances will be higher for the Alluxio metadata to be stale. Interacting with the UFS incurs performance overheads, so it is recommended to limit frequent UFS syncing.

Since the UFS sync feature includes the loading metadata functionality, if UFS syncing is performed, the loading metadata configuration parameter, alluxio.user.file.metadata.load.type, is ignored. In comparison to the loading metadata feature, UFS sync takes care of any UFS modifications, like deleting files, or updating the timestamp, in addition to discovering new files.

Passive caching

Passive caching causes data to be re-cached in an Alluxio worker when one or more copies already exist in Alluxio storage. Passive caching should be disabled (alluxio.user.file.passive.cache.enabled=false) when the workloads being run have no locality concept and the dataset being accessed is large compared to the Alluxio storage of one worker. If passive caching is enabled, you may see data blocks residing in many workers, possibly all of them, greatly reducing the amount of Alluxio storage available for unique data.

Location policy

Alluxio provides location policy to choose which workers to store the blocks of a file. Using Alluxio’s Java API, users can set the policy in CreateFileOptions for writing files and OpenFileOptions for reading files into Alluxio. The default for file write is LocalFirstPolicy which returns the local host first, and if the local worker doesn’t have enough capacity of a block, it randomly picks a worker from the active workers list. The default option assumes the file will be accessed on the same node later, and therefore tries to provide better locality. However, if the uniform distribution is desirable, you can change the policy to RoundRobinPolicy, which chooses the worker for the next block in a round-robin manner and skips workers that do not have enough capacity.

Netty configurations - Default is 30 seconds, consider increasing this value if you see a large number of client network timeouts. This can be due to having a slow under store. - Default is 5 minutes, increase this value if you are writing large files to object storages with a slow network connection. On closing a file for an object store, the entire object is uploaded during the close timeout.

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