Why MySQL Stored Procedures, Functions and Triggers Are Bad For Performance

MySQL stored procedures, functions and triggers, are tempting constructs for application developers. However, as I discovered, there can be an impact on database performance when using MySQL stored routines. Not being entirely sure of what I was seeing during a customer visit, I set out to create some simple tests to measure the impact of triggers on database performance. The outcome might surprise you.

Why stored routines are not optimal performance-wise

Recently, I worked with a customer to profile the performance of triggers and stored routines. What I’ve learned about stored routines: “dead” code (the code in a branch which will never run) can still significantly slow down the response time of a function/procedure/trigger. We will need to be careful to clean up what we do not need.

Profiling MySQL stored functions

Let’s compare these four simple stored functions (in MySQL 5.7):

Function 1:

This function simply declares a variable and returns it. It is a dummy function

Function 2:

This function calls another function, levenshtein_limit_n (calculates levenshtein distance). But wait: this code will never run – the condition IF 1=2 will never be true. So that is the same as function 1.

Function 3:

Here there are four conditions and none of these conditions will be true: there are 4 calls of “dead” code. The result of the function call for function 3 will be the same as function 2 and function 1.

Function 4:

This is the same as function 3 but the function we are running does not exist. Well, it does not matter as the select does_not_exit  will never run.

So all the functions will always return 0. We expect that the performance of these functions will be the same or very similar. Surprisingly it is not the case! To measure the performance I used the “benchmark” function to run the same function 1M times. Here are the results:

As we can see func3 (with four dead code calls which will never be executed, otherwise identical to func1) runs almost 3x slower compared to func1(); func3_nope() is identical in terms of response time to func3().

Visualizing all system calls from functions

To figure out what is happening inside the function calls I used performance_schema / sys schema to create a trace with ps_trace_thread() procedure

  1. Get the thread_id for the MySQL connection:
  2. Run ps_trace_thread in another connection passing the thread_id=49:
  3. At that point I switched to the original connection (thread_id=49) and run:
  4. The sys.ps_trace_thread collected the data (for 10 seconds, during which I ran the select func1() ), then it finished its collection and created the dot file: