One Million Tables in 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 a 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 worst-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 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