OT: Things Fashion Stores and Designers just don’t Get

February 15, 2014 9 comments

I have just returned from a trip to Milan, my lovely wife traveling with me. And after a full weekend there, I feel like ranting again. For my trusted readers, if you expect something technical from this, please stop reading now.

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Curious Partition Function Behaviour

January 15, 2014 10 comments

imageJust another short blog today describing a curious issue I found with a query plan this week and a “workaround”.

In our core system, we have a table with two partitions. One partition contains all the work that “has been done” (which has the column WorkItem set to –1) and the other the “work   in progress” (with WorkItem to different values, all > -1).

The reason we have created just two partitions for this table (which is a heap) is that the items that are “work in progress” are often scanned, yet the work that has been done (WorkItem = –1) is the vast majority of the table. This “mini partitioning” is a nice design pattern I often apply to skewed distribution like these. It provides a significant performance boost on table scans. But this week I saw an oddity I have not run into before.

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Default Configuration of SQL Server (and query hints)

January 15, 2014 14 comments

Throughout the years, I have become convinced that the default settings used in SQL Server are often wrong for systems that need scale or are properly managed. There is a series of settings I find myself consistently changing when I audit or install a new server. They are “my defaults”

I thought I would share those here. Bear in mind that these are setting that assume a certain level of rational behaviour in the organisation you find yourself in. If you are working in a bank, they may not apply to you.

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Clustered Indexes vs. Heaps

January 12, 2014 21 comments

At Stack Overflow the other day, I once again found myself trying to debunk a lot of the “revealed wisdom” in the SQL Server community. You can find the post here: Indexing a PK GUID in SQL Server 2012 to read the discussion. However, this post is not about GUID or sequential keys, which I have written about elsewhere, it is about cluster indexes and the love affair that SQL Server DBAs seem to have with them.

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Synchronisation in .NET– Part 4: Partitioned Data Structures

January 5, 2014 5 comments

In this final instalment of the synchronisation series, we will look at fully scalable solutions to the problem first stated in Part 1 – adding monitoring that is scalable and minimally intrusive.

Thus far, we have seen how there is an upper limit on how fast you can access cache lines shared between multiple cores. We have tried different synchronisation primitives to get the best possible scale.

Throughput this series, Henk van der Valk has generously lent me his 4 socket machine and been my trusted lab manager and reviewer. Without his help, this blog series would not have been possible.

And now, as is tradition, we are going to show you how to make this thing scale.

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Synchronisation in .NET– Part 3: Spin Locks and Interlocks/Atomics

January 4, 2014 2 comments

In the previous instalments (Part 1 and Part 2) of this series, we have drawn some conclusions about both .NET itself and CPU architectures. Here is what we know so far:

  • When there is contention on a single cache line, the lock() method scales very poorly and you get negative scale the moment you leave a single CPU core.
  • The scale takes a further dip once you leave a single CPU socket
  • Even when we remove the lock() and do thread unsafe operations, scalability is still poor
  • Going from a class to a padded struct gives a scale boost, though not enough to get linear scale
  • The maximum theoretical scale we can get with the current technique is around 90K operations/ms.

In this blog entry, I will explore other synchronisation primitives to make the implementation safe again, namely the spinlock and Interlocks. As a reminder, we are still running the test on a 4 socket machine with 8 cores on each socket with hyper threading enabled (for a total of 16 logical cores on each socket).

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Synchronisation in .NET– Part 2: Unsafe Data Structures and Padding

December 27, 2013 9 comments

In the previous blog post we saw how the lock() statement in .NET scales very poorly when there is a contention on a data structure. It was clear that a performance logging framework that relies on an array with a lock on each member to store data will not scale.

Today, we will try to quantify just how much performance we should expect to get from the data structure if we somehow solve locking. We will also see how the underlying hardware primitives bubble up through the .NET framework and break the pretty object oriented abstraction you might be used to.

Because we have already proven that ConcurrentDictionary adds to much overhead, we will focus on arrays as the backing store for the data structure in all future implementations.

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