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One Million Tables in MySQL 8.0

 | October 1, 2017 |  Posted In: InnoDB, Insight for DBAs, MySQL, MySQL 8.0


In my previous blog post, I talked about new general tablespaces in MySQL 8.0. Recently MySQL 8.0.3-rc was released, which includes a new data dictionary. My goal is to create one million tables in MySQL and test the performance.

Background questions

Q: Why million tables in MySQL? Is it even realistic? How does this happen?

Usually, millions of tables in MySQL is a result of “a schema per customer” Software as a Service (SaaS) approach. For the purposes of customer data isolation (security) and logical data partitioning (performance), each “customer” has a dedicated schema. You can think of a WordPress hosting service (or any CMS based hosting) where each customer has their own dedicated schema. With 10K customers per MySQL server, we could end up with millions of tables.

Q: Should you design an application with >1 million tables?

Having separate tables is one of the easiest designs for a multi-tenant or SaaS application, and makes it easy to shard and re-distribute your workload between servers. In fact, the table-per-customer or schema-per-customer design has the quickest time-to-market, which is why we see it a lot in consulting. In this post, we are not aiming to cover the merits of should you do this (if your application has high churn or millions of free users, for example, it might not be a good idea). Instead, we will focus on if the new data dictionary provides relief to a historical pain point.

Q: Why is one million tables a problem?

The main issue results from the fact that MySQL needs to open (and eventually close) the table structure file (FRM file). With one million tables, we are talking about at least one million files. Originally MySQL fixed it with table_open_cache and table_definition_cache. However, the maximum value for table_open_cache is 524288. In addition, it is split into 16 partitions by default (to reduce the contention). So it is not ideal. MySQL 8.0 has removed FRM files for InnoDB, and will now allow you to create general tablespaces. I’ve demonstrated how we can create tablespace per customer in MySQL 8.0, which is ideal for “schema-per-customer” approach (we can move/migrate one customer data to a new server by importing/exporting the tablespace).

One million tables in MySQL 5.7

Recently, I’ve created the test with one million tables. The test creates 10K databases, and each database contains 100 tables. To use a standard benchmark I’ve employed sysbench table structure.

This also creates a huge overhead: with one million tables we have ~two million files. Each .frm file and .ibd file size sums up to 175G:

Now I’ve used sysbench Lua script to insert one row randomly into one table


Sysbench will choose one table randomly out of one million. With oltp_tables_count = 1 and oltp_db_count = 100, it will only choose the first table (sbtest1) out of the first 100 databases (randomly).

As expected, MySQL 5.7 has a huge performance degradation when going across one million tables. When running a script that only inserts data into 100 random tables, we can see ~150K transactions per second. When the data is inserted in one million tables (chosen randomly) performance drops to 2K (!) transactions per second:

Insert into 100 random tables:

Insert into one million random tables:

This is expected. Here I’m testing the worse case scenario, where we can’t keep all table open handlers and table definitions in cache (memory) since the table_open_cache and table_definition_cache both have a limit of 524288.

Also, normally we can expect a huge skew between access to the tables. There can be only 20% active customers (80-20 rule), meaning that we can only expect an active access to 2K databases. In addition, there will be old or unused tables so we can expect around 100K or less of active tables.

Hardware and config files

The above results are from this server:

Sysbench script:


One million tables in MySQL 8.0 + general tablespaces

In MySQL 8.0 is it easy and logical to create one general tablespace per each schema (it will host all tables in this schema). In MySQL 5.7, general tablespaces are available – but there are still .frm files.

I’ve used the following script to create 100 tables in one schema all in one tablespace:

The new MySQL 8.0.3-rc also uses the new data dictionary, so all MyISAM tables in the mysql schema are removed and all metadata is stored in additional mysql.ibd file.

Creating one million tables

Creating InnoDB tables fast enough can be a task by itself. Stewart Smith published a blog post a while ago where he focused on optimizing time to create 30K tables in MySQL.

The problem is that after creating an .ibd file, MySQL needs to “fsync” it. However, when creating a table inside the tablespace, there is no fsync. I’ve created a simple script to create tables in parallel, one thread per database:

That script works perfectly in MySQL 8.0.1-dmr and creates one million tables in 25 minutes and 28 seconds (1528 seconds). That is ~654 tables per second. That is significantly faster than ~30 tables per second in the original Stewart’s test and 2x faster than a test where all fsyncs were artificially disabled using libeat-my-data library.

Unfortunately, in MySQL 8.0.3-rc some regression was introduced. In MySQL 8.0.3-rc I can see heavy mutex contention, and the table creation speed dropped from 25 minutes to ~280 minutes. I’ve filed a bug report: performance regression: “create table” speed and scalability in 8.0.3.

Size on disk

With general tablespaces and no .frm files, the size on disk decreased:

Please note though that in MySQL 8.0.3-rc, with new native data dictionary, the size on disk increased as it needs to write additional information (Serialized Dictionary Information, SDI) to the tablespace files:

The general mysql data dictionary in MySQL 8.0.3 is 6.6Gb:

Benchmarking the insert speed in MySQL 8.0 

I’ve repeated the same test I’ve done for MySQL 5.7 in MySQL 8.0.3-rc (and in 8.0.1-dmr), but using general tablespace. I created 10K databases (=10K tablespace files), each database has100 tables and each database resides in its own tablespace.

There are two new tablespace level caches we can use in MySQL 8.0: tablespace_definition_cache and schema_definition_cache:

Unfortunately, with one million random table accesses in MySQL 8.0 (both 8.0.1 and 8.0.3), we can still see that it stalls on opening tables (even with no .frm files and general tablespaces):

And the transactions per second drops to ~2K.

Here I’ve expected different behavior. With the .frm files gone and with tablespace_definition_cache set to more than 10K (we have only 10K tablespace files), I’ve expected that MySQL does not have to open and close files. It looks like this is not the case.

I can also see the table opening (since the server started):

This is easier to see on the graphs from PMM. Insert per second for the two runs (both running 16 threads):

  1. The first run is 10K random databases/tablespaces and one table (sysbench is choosing table#1 from a randomly chosen list of 10K databases). This way there is also no contention on the tablespace file.
  2. The second run is a randomly chosen table from a list of one million tables.

As we can see, the first run is dong 50K -100K inserts/second. Second run is only limited to ~2.5 inserts per second:

MySQL 8.0

“Table open cache misses” grows significantly after the start of the second benchmark run:
MySQL 8.0

As we can see, MySQL performs ~1.1K table definition openings per second and has ~2K table cache misses due to the overflow:

MySQL 8.0

When inserting against only 1K random tables (one specific table in a random database, that way we almost guarantee that one thread will always write to a different tablespace file), the table_open_cache got warmed up quickly. After a couple of seconds, the sysbench test starts showing > 100K tps. The processlist looks much better (compare the statement latency and lock latency to the above as well):

What about the 100K random tables? That should fit into the table_open_cache. At the same time, the default 16 table_open_cache_instances split 500K table_open_cache, so each bucket is only ~30K. To fix that, I’ve set table_open_cache_instances = 4 and was able to get ~50K tps average. However, the contention inside the table_open_cache seems to stall the queries:

MySQL 8.0

There are only a very limited amount of table openings:

MySQL 8.0



MySQL 8.0 general tablespaces looks very promising. It is finally possible to create one million tables in MySQL without the need to create two million files. Actually, MySQL 8 can handle many tables very well as long as table cache misses are kept to a minimum.

At the same time, the problem with “Opening tables” (worst case scenario test) still persists in MySQL 8.0.3-rc and limits the throughput. I expected to see that MySQL does not have to open/close the table structure file. I also hope the create table regression bug is fixed in the next MySQL 8.0 version.

I’ve not tested other new features in the new data dictionary in 8.0.3-rc: i.e., atomic DDL (InnoDB now supports atomic DDL, which ensures that DDL operations are either committed in their entirety or rolled back in case of an unplanned server stoppage). That is the topic of the next blog post.

Alexander Rubin

Alexander joined Percona in 2013. Alexander worked with MySQL since 2000 as DBA and Application Developer. Before joining Percona he was doing MySQL consulting as a principal consultant for over 7 years (started with MySQL AB in 2006, then Sun Microsystems and then Oracle). He helped many customers design large, scalable and highly available MySQL systems and optimize MySQL performance. Alexander also helped customers design Big Data stores with Apache Hadoop and related technologies.


  • Hello!

    Regarding “Opening tables” state.

    Yes, after .frm files removal we no longer need to open them when table definition is loaded into table definition cache and TABLE_SHARE object is constructed. However we still need to construct TABLE_SHARE object from the information in the data-dictionary. Plus we still need to construct TABLE object and create “handler” object and “open” table in SE (even though this might not lead to opening of files in reality) for each table instance used by some statement (if it is not in open tables cache already).

    As you have mentioned both table definition cache and open tables caches are limited to 524288 elements in your case. So test which tries to access 1mil of tables randomly will result in lots of cache misses (and effect will be even worse then one might expect due to open tables cache partitioning).

    But do we really have workloads which access 1mil of tables uniformly randomly in practice?
    Without some kind of temporal or connection locality at all?

    • At my previous company, we had to manage over 160,000 tables per MySQL instance, because we separated customer data into one schema per customer (for security and some manageability). The workload was not strictly uniform, because different customers used the service at different rates. But their usage was unpredictable.

  • Thank Alex, very interesting. I was wondering if you are testing performance differences with information_schema.TABLES and similar system tables.


  • I would like to see more benchmarks like this on more practical queries about the new data dictionary. Things like https://www.percona.com/blog/2008/02/04/finding-out-largest-tables-on-mysql-server/ or typical metadata-querying information.

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