Index Condition Pushdown in MySQL 5.6 and MariaDB 5.5 and its performance impact

I have been working with Peter in preparation for the talk comparing the optimizer enhancements in MySQL 5.6 and MariaDB 5.5. We are taking a look at and benchmarking optimizer enhancements one by one. So in the same way this blog post is aimed at a new optimizer enhancement Index Condition Pushdown (ICP). Its available in both MySQL 5.6 and MariaDB 5.5

Now let’s take a look briefly at what this enhancement actually is, and what is it aimed at.

Index Condition Pushdown

Traditional B-Tree index lookups have some limitations in cases such as range scans, where index parts after the part on which range condition is applied cannot be used for filtering records. For example, suppose you have a key defined as:

and the WHERE condition defined as:

Then MySQL will use the key as if its only defined as including columns l_partkey and l_quantity and will not filter using the columns l_shipmode and l_shipinstruct. And so all rows matching condition l_partkey = x and and l_quantity >= 1 and l_quantity <= 1+10 will be fetched from the Primary Key and returned to MySQL server which will then in turn apply the remaining parts of the WHERE clause l_shipmode in (‘AIR’, ‘AIR REG’) and l_shipinstruct = ‘DELIVER IN PERSON’. So clearly if you have thousands of rows that match l_partkey and l_quantity but only a few hundred that match all the condition, then obviously you would be reading a lot of unnecessary data.

This is where ICP comes into play. With ICP, the server pushes down all conditions of the WHERE clause that match the key definition to the storage engine and then filtering is done in two steps:

  • Filter by the prefix of the index using traditional B-Tree index search
  • Filter by applying the where condition on the index entries fetched

You can read more about index condition pushdown as available in MySQL 5.6 here:
and as available in MariaDB 5.5 here:

Now let’s take a look at the benchmarks to see how much difference does this really make.

Benchmark results

For the purpose of this benchmark I used TPC-H Query #19 and ran it on TPC-H dataset (InnoDB tables) with scale factors of 2 (InnoDB dataset size ~5G) and 40 (InnoDB dataset size ~95G), so that I could see the speedup in case of in-memory and IO bound workloads. For the purpose of these benchmarks query cache was disabled and the buffer pool size was set to 6G.

The query is:

There are two changes that I made to the query and the TPC-H tables’ structure.
– Added a new index: KEY i_l_partkey (l_partkey,l_quantity,l_shipmode,l_shipinstruct)
– Added an index hint in the query: lineitem force index(i_l_partkey)

The size of the buffer pool used for the benchmarks is 6G and the disks are 4 5.4K disks in Software RAID5.

In-memory workload

Now let’s first take a look at how effective is ICP when the workload is in memory. For the purpose of benchmarking in-memory workload, I used a Scale Factor of 2 (dataset size ~5G), and the buffer pool was warmed up so that the relevant pages were already loaded in the buffer pool:

IO bound workload

And what about IO bound workload, when the dataset does not fit into memory. For the purpose of benchmarking IO bound workload, I used a Scale Factor of 40 (dataset size ~95G) and the buffer pool was not warmed up, so that it does not have the relevant pages loaded up already:

Now let’s take a look at the status counters to see how much does this optimization make a difference.

MySQL Status Counters

These status counters are taken when performing the benchmark on IO bound workload, mentioned above.

Counter NameMySQL 5.5MySQL 5.6MariaDB 5.5
  • We can see that values for Handler_read_key are more or less the same, because there is no change in the index lookup method, the index range scan is still done the same way as in MySQL 5.5, all the index pages that match the range condition on the l_quantity will still be fetched. Its the optimization afterwards that counts.
  • As we can see there is a huge reduction in the value of Handler_read_next, as with ICP the remaining parts of the WHERE clause are checked directly on the index pages fetched without having to fetch the entire rows from the PK, which means 128x less subsequent reads from the PK.
  • There are two status counters available in MariaDB 5.3/5.5 that are not available in MySQL, Handler_icp_attempts and Handler_icp_match, which show how many times the remaining WHERE condition was checked on the fetched index pages and how many times the index entries matched the condition. The value of Handler_icp_match directly co-relates to that of Handler_read_next. The smaller the ratio of Handler_icp_attempts to Handler_icp_match the better the filtering.
  • Another important thing is that there is 18x less IO page reads in the case of MySQL 5.6 and MariaDB 5.5 and 8x less amount of data read (1.67G compared to 9.49G). This just does not mean reduction in IO but means more free pages are available in the buffer pool to cater to other queries. For example, in the case of MySQL 5.5 (with a buffer pool of 6G), the query will be IO bound even with a warmed up buffer pool, because there is just too much data read. While in the case of MySQL 5.6 and MariaDB 5.5, the queries will have all the pages in-memory with warm caches and still 72% of the buffer pool will be empty to handle other queries.

Other Observations

There are two indexes defined on the table with similar prefixes:

  • KEY i_l_suppkey_partkey (l_partkey, l_suppkey)
  • KEY i_l_partkey (l_partkey,l_quantity,l_shipmode,l_shipinstruct)

Obviously, the key i_l_partkey is much more restrictive. Although it cannot filter more rows by using traditional B-Tree index lookup used by MySQL, when compared to the key i_l_suppkey_partkey. But after the B-Tree lookup step, the second key can filter a lot more data using ICP on the remaining conditions after l_quantity. Yet MySQL 5.6 and MariaDB 5.5 optimizer does not consider this logic when selecting the index. In all the runs of the benchmark, the optimizer chose the key i_l_suppkey_partkey because the optimizer estimates that both indexes will mean same no. of rows and i_l_suppkey_partkey has a smaller key size. To get around this limitation in the optimizer I had to use index hint (FORCE INDEX). Clearly, selecting the correct index is an important part of optimizer’s job, and there is room for improvement there.

Another thing which I feel is that there is still further optimization possible, like moving ICP directly to the index lookup function so that the limitation in the optimizer which prevents other parts of the key after the first range condition are removed.


There is a huge speed up 78 minutes down to 2 minutes in case of completely IO bound workload, and upto 2x speedup in case when the workload is in-memory. There is not much difference here in terms of the performance gains on MariaDB 5.5 vs MySQL 5.6 and both are on-par. This is great for queries that suffer from the weakness of the current MySQL optimizer when it comes to doing multi-column range scans, and the ICP optimization will benefit a lot of your queries like the one I showed in my example. Not only that, because there will be a cut down in the number of data pages read into the buffer pool, it means better buffer pool utilization.

On a last note, I will be posting the benchmark scripts, table definitions, the configuration files for MySQL 5.5/5.6 and MariaDB 5.5 and the description of the hardware used.

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Comments (12)

  • Peter Zaitsev

    I think it is worth to note even though ICP improves the scan speed of the range in the index by allowing scanning index entries only and not reading the rows, it still scans complete range when partial scan is possible. In the example above “l_partkey = x
    and l_quantity >= 1 and l_quantity <= 1+10" defines the range which will be scanned completely to apply "l_shipmode in ('AIR', 'AIR REG') and l_shipinstruct = 'DELIVER IN PERSON'" filter. Yet it would be possible instead for each value with given l_partkey and l_quantity to perform further lookup in index tree with named condition. Such optimization would be especially helpful if there are a lot of rows which have same l_partkey and l_quantity but second condition is very selective.

    March 12, 2012 at 4:50 pm
  • Baron Schwartz

    Did you run the queries only once, or multiple times per query?

    March 12, 2012 at 6:33 pm
  • Ovais Tariq

    The queries were run multiple times with both cold buffer pool and multiple times with warmed up buffer pool.

    March 13, 2012 at 1:27 am
  • Ovais Tariq

    Yes you are right, the filtering done using ICP should ideally be moved to where index lookup takes place at the B-Tree level.

    March 13, 2012 at 1:29 am
  • Baron Schwartz

    How did you choose the numbers you showed in the graph? Is it an average of the several runs, or the best time, or…?

    March 13, 2012 at 4:20 am
  • Ovais Tariq

    Its the best time for the same query, from among multiple runs.

    March 13, 2012 at 4:23 am
  • jametong

    I recommend you to change you secondary index to
    KEY i_l_partkey (l_partkey,’l_shipinstruct’,l_quantity,l_shipmode)

    I think if you use the this index,the result should be better.

    March 20, 2012 at 9:18 am
  • Ovais Tariq

    jametong, the purpose of this post was to show in what conditions ICP would be helpful over MySQL 5.5, so the purpose of the query in the post and the index is to show that ICP would be helpful when the conditions after the first range condition can be applied directly to the index entries fetched, if those index entries contain columns that match the remaining conditions after the first range condition.

    March 21, 2012 at 12:31 pm
  • repls

    as you said :”Then MySQL will use the key as if its only defined as including columns l_partkey and l_quantity and will not filter using the columns l_shipmode and l_shipinstruct. And so all rows matching condition l_partkey = x and and l_quantity >= 1 and l_quantity <= 1+10 will be fetched from the Primary Key and returned to MySQL server which will then in turn apply the remaining parts of the WHERE clause l_shipmode in ('AIR', 'AIR REG') and l_shipinstruct = 'DELIVER IN PERSON'."

    then how do you know it ? i mean, where can i found the optimization only use the prefix of index, but not the whole index ?

    April 7, 2012 at 7:33 am
  • Ovais Tariq

    MySQL has a limitation on range conditions whereby as soon as it encounters a range condition on one of the columns in a composite index, it stops using the remaining parts of the index. At the link below you will find a very good explanation of MySQL range access and its limitations by Jørgen:

    April 9, 2012 at 11:56 pm
  • Marcus Ouimet

    Has this been implemented in Percona Server?

    April 10, 2012 at 11:48 am
  • Ovais Tariq

    No they have not made there way yet in Percona Server, but will in the future.

    April 11, 2012 at 2:22 am

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