File Space Management

The data files that you define in the configuration file form the InnoDB system tablespace. The files are logically concatenated to form the tablespace. There is no striping in use. Currently, you cannot define where within the tablespace your tables are allocated. However, in a newly created tablespace, InnoDB allocates space starting from the first data file.

To avoid the issues that come with storing all tables and indexes inside the system tablespace, you can turn on the innodb_file_per_table configuration option, which stores each newly created table in a separate tablespace file (with extension .ibd). For tables stored this way, there is less fragmentation within the disk file, and when the table is truncated, the space is returned to the operating system rather than still being reserved by InnoDB within the system tablespace.

Pages, Extents, Segments, and Tablespaces

Each tablespace consists of database pages with a default size of 16KB. The pages are grouped into extents of size 1MB (64 consecutive pages). The “files” inside a tablespace are called segments in InnoDB. (These segments are different from the “rollback segment”, which actually contains many tablespace segments.)

When a segment grows inside the tablespace, InnoDB allocates the first 32 pages to it individually. After that, InnoDB starts to allocate whole extents to the segment. InnoDB can add up to 4 extents at a time to a large segment to ensure good sequentiality of data.

Two segments are allocated for each index in InnoDB. One is for nonleaf nodes of the B-tree, the other is for the leaf nodes. Keeping the leaf nodes contiguous on disk enables better sequential I/O operations, because these leaf nodes contain the actual table data.

Some pages in the tablespace contain bitmaps of other pages, and therefore a few extents in an InnoDB tablespace cannot be allocated to segments as a whole, but only as individual pages.

When you ask for available free space in the tablespace by issuing a SHOW TABLE STATUS statement, InnoDB reports the extents that are definitely free in the tablespace. InnoDB always reserves some extents for cleanup and other internal purposes; these reserved extents are not included in the free space.

When you delete data from a table, InnoDB contracts the corresponding B-tree indexes. Whether the freed space becomes available for other users depends on whether the pattern of deletes frees individual pages or extents to the tablespace. Dropping a table or deleting all rows from it is guaranteed to release the space to other users, but remember that deleted rows are physically removed only in an (automatic) purge operation after they are no longer needed for transaction rollbacks or consistent reads. (See Section 13.6.10, “InnoDB Multi-Versioning”.)

To see information about the tablespace, use the Tablespace Monitor. See Section, “SHOW ENGINE INNODB STATUS and the InnoDB Monitors”.

How Pages Relate to Table Rows

The maximum row length, except for variable-length columns (VARBINARY, VARCHAR, BLOB and TEXT), is slightly less than half of a database page. That is, the maximum row length is about 8000 bytes. LONGBLOB and LONGTEXT columns must be less than 4GB, and the total row length, including BLOB and TEXT columns, must be less than 4GB.

If a row is less than half a page long, all of it is stored locally within the page. If it exceeds half a page, variable-length columns are chosen for external off-page storage until the row fits within half a page. For a column chosen for off-page storage, InnoDB stores the first 768 bytes locally in the row, and the rest externally into overflow pages. Each such column has its own list of overflow pages. The 768-byte prefix is accompanied by a 20-byte value that stores the true length of the column and points into the overflow list where the rest of the value is stored.

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