Extremely irregular query performance

From: Jean-Philippe Côté
Subject: Extremely irregular query performance
Date: ,
Msg-id: 20060111192039.12341384122@crt0.crt.umontreal.ca
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List: pgsql-performance


I'm running version 8.1 on a dedicated Sun v20 server (2 AMD x64's)
with 4Gb of RAM. I have recently noticed that the performance of
some more complex queries is extremely variable and irregular.
For example, I currently have a query that returns a small number
of rows (5) by joining a dozen of tables. Below are the running times
obtained by repeatedly lauching this query in psql:

Time: 424.848 ms
Time: 1615.143 ms
Time: 15036.475 ms
Time: 83471.683 ms
Time: 163.224 ms
Time: 2454.939 ms
Time: 188.093 ms
Time: 158.071 ms
Time: 192.431 ms
Time: 195.076 ms
Time: 635.739 ms
Time: 164549.902 ms

As you can see, the performance is most of the time pretty good (less
than 1 second), but every fourth of fifth time I launch the query
the server seems to go into orbit. For the longer running times,
I can see from top that the server process uses almost 100% of
a CPU.

This is rather worrisome, as I cannot be confident of the overall performance
of my application with so much variance in query response times.

I suspect a configuration problem related to the cache mechanism
(shared_buffers? effective_cache_size?), but to be honest I do not know
where to start to diagnose it.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance,


pgsql-performance by date:

From: Kenneth Marshall
Subject: Re: Extremely irregular query performance
From: Tomka Gergely
Subject: big databases & hospitals