Storing Dictionaries in Memory 

There are a variety of ways to store dictionaries in memory.

We recommend flat, hashed and complex_key_hashed, which provide optimal processing speed.

Caching is not recommended because of potentially poor performance and difficulties in selecting optimal parameters. Read more in the section cache.

There are several ways to improve dictionary performance:

  • Call the function for working with the dictionary after GROUP BY.
  • Mark attributes to extract as injective. An attribute is called injective if different attribute values correspond to different keys. So when GROUP BY uses a function that fetches an attribute value by the key, this function is automatically taken out of GROUP BY.

ClickHouse generates an exception for errors with dictionaries. Examples of errors:

  • The dictionary being accessed could not be loaded.
  • Error querying a cached dictionary.

You can view the list of external dictionaries and their statuses in the system.dictionaries table.

The configuration looks like this:

<yandex>
    <dictionary>
        ...
        <layout>
            <layout_type>
                <!-- layout settings -->
            </layout_type>
        </layout>
        ...
    </dictionary>
</yandex>

Corresponding DDL-query:

CREATE DICTIONARY (...)
...
LAYOUT(LAYOUT_TYPE(param value)) -- layout settings
...

Ways to Store Dictionaries in Memory 

flat 

The dictionary is completely stored in memory in the form of flat arrays. How much memory does the dictionary use? The amount is proportional to the size of the largest key (in space used).

The dictionary key has the UInt64 type and the value is limited to max_array_size (by default — 500,000). If a larger key is discovered when creating the dictionary, ClickHouse throws an exception and does not create the dictionary. Dictionary flat arrays initial size is controlled by initial_array_size setting (by default — 1024).

All types of sources are supported. When updating, data (from a file or from a table) is read in it entirety.

This method provides the best performance among all available methods of storing the dictionary.

Configuration example:

<layout>
  <flat>
    <initial_array_size>50000</initial_array_size>
    <max_array_size>5000000</max_array_size>
  </flat>
</layout>

or

LAYOUT(FLAT(INITIAL_ARRAY_SIZE 50000 MAX_ARRAY_SIZE 5000000))

hashed 

The dictionary is completely stored in memory in the form of a hash table. The dictionary can contain any number of elements with any identifiers In practice, the number of keys can reach tens of millions of items.

If preallocate is true (default is false) the hash table will be preallocated (this will make the dictionary load faster). But note that you should use it only if:

  • The source support an approximate number of elements (for now it is supported only by the ClickHouse source).
  • There are no duplicates in the data (otherwise it may increase memory usage for the hashtable).

All types of sources are supported. When updating, data (from a file or from a table) is read in its entirety.

Configuration example:

<layout>
  <hashed>
    <preallocate>0</preallocate>
  </hashed>
</layout>

or

LAYOUT(HASHED(PREALLOCATE 0))

sparse_hashed 

Similar to hashed, but uses less memory in favor more CPU usage.

It will be also preallocated so as hashed (with preallocate set to true), and note that it is even more significant for sparse_hashed.

Configuration example:

<layout>
  <sparse_hashed />
</layout>

or

LAYOUT(SPARSE_HASHED([PREALLOCATE 0]))

complex_key_hashed 

This type of storage is for use with composite keys. Similar to hashed.

Configuration example:

<layout>
  <complex_key_hashed />
</layout>
LAYOUT(COMPLEX_KEY_HASHED())

complex_key_sparse_hashed 

This type of storage is for use with composite keys. Similar to sparse_hashed.

Configuration example:

<layout>
  <complex_key_sparse_hashed />
</layout>
LAYOUT(COMPLEX_KEY_SPARSE_HASHED())

hashed_array 

The dictionary is completely stored in memory. Each attribute is stored in array. Key attribute is stored in the form of hashed table where value is index in attributes array. The dictionary can contain any number of elements with any identifiers In practice, the number of keys can reach tens of millions of items.

All types of sources are supported. When updating, data (from a file or from a table) is read in its entirety.

Configuration example:

<layout>
  <hashed_array>
  </hashed_array>
</layout>

or

LAYOUT(HASHED_ARRAY())

complex_key_hashed_array 

This type of storage is for use with composite keys. Similar to hashed_array.

Configuration example:

<layout>
  <complex_key_hashed_array />
</layout>
LAYOUT(COMPLEX_KEY_HASHED_ARRAY())

range_hashed 

The dictionary is stored in memory in the form of a hash table with an ordered array of ranges and their corresponding values.

This storage method works the same way as hashed and allows using date/time (arbitrary numeric type) ranges in addition to the key.

Example: The table contains discounts for each advertiser in the format:

+---------|-------------|-------------|------+
| advertiser id | discount start date | discount end date | amount |
+===============+=====================+===================+========+
| 123           | 2015-01-01          | 2015-01-15        | 0.15   |
+---------|-------------|-------------|------+
| 123           | 2015-01-16          | 2015-01-31        | 0.25   |
+---------|-------------|-------------|------+
| 456           | 2015-01-01          | 2015-01-15        | 0.05   |
+---------|-------------|-------------|------+

To use a sample for date ranges, define the range_min and range_max elements in the structure. These elements must contain elements name and type (if type is not specified, the default type will be used - Date). type can be any numeric type (Date / DateTime / UInt64 / Int32 / others).

Example:

<structure>
    <id>
        <name>Id</name>
    </id>
    <range_min>
        <name>first</name>
        <type>Date</type>
    </range_min>
    <range_max>
        <name>last</name>
        <type>Date</type>
    </range_max>
    ...

or

CREATE DICTIONARY somedict (
    id UInt64,
    first Date,
    last Date
)
PRIMARY KEY id
LAYOUT(RANGE_HASHED())
RANGE(MIN first MAX last)

To work with these dictionaries, you need to pass an additional argument to the dictGetT function, for which a range is selected:

dictGetT('dict_name', 'attr_name', id, date)

This function returns the value for the specified ids and the date range that includes the passed date.

Details of the algorithm:

  • If the id is not found or a range is not found for the id, it returns the default value for the dictionary.
  • If there are overlapping ranges, it returns value for any (random) range.
  • If the range delimiter is NULL or an invalid date (such as 1900-01-01), the range is open. The range can be open on both sides.

Configuration example:

<yandex>
    <dictionary>
        ...

        <layout>
            <range_hashed />
        </layout>

        <structure>
            <id>
                <name>Abcdef</name>
            </id>
            <range_min>
                <name>StartTimeStamp</name>
                <type>UInt64</type>
            </range_min>
            <range_max>
                <name>EndTimeStamp</name>
                <type>UInt64</type>
            </range_max>
            <attribute>
                <name>XXXType</name>
                <type>String</type>
                <null_value />
            </attribute>
        </structure>

    </dictionary>
</yandex>

or

CREATE DICTIONARY somedict(
    Abcdef UInt64,
    StartTimeStamp UInt64,
    EndTimeStamp UInt64,
    XXXType String DEFAULT ''
)
PRIMARY KEY Abcdef
RANGE(MIN StartTimeStamp MAX EndTimeStamp)

complex_key_range_hashed 

The dictionary is stored in memory in the form of a hash table with an ordered array of ranges and their corresponding values (see range_hashed). This type of storage is for use with composite keys.

Configuration example:

CREATE DICTIONARY range_dictionary
(
  CountryID UInt64,
  CountryKey String,
  StartDate Date,
  EndDate Date,
  Tax Float64 DEFAULT 0.2
)
PRIMARY KEY CountryID, CountryKey
SOURCE(CLICKHOUSE(TABLE 'date_table'))
LIFETIME(MIN 1 MAX 1000)
LAYOUT(COMPLEX_KEY_RANGE_HASHED())
RANGE(MIN StartDate MAX EndDate);

cache 

The dictionary is stored in a cache that has a fixed number of cells. These cells contain frequently used elements.

When searching for a dictionary, the cache is searched first. For each block of data, all keys that are not found in the cache or are outdated are requested from the source using SELECT attrs... FROM db.table WHERE id IN (k1, k2, ...). The received data is then written to the cache.

If keys are not found in dictionary, then update cache task is created and added into update queue. Update queue properties can be controlled with settings max_update_queue_size, update_queue_push_timeout_milliseconds, query_wait_timeout_milliseconds, max_threads_for_updates.

For cache dictionaries, the expiration lifetime of data in the cache can be set. If more time than lifetime has passed since loading the data in a cell, the cell’s value is not used and key becomes expired. The key is re-requested the next time it needs to be used. This behaviour can be configured with setting allow_read_expired_keys.

This is the least effective of all the ways to store dictionaries. The speed of the cache depends strongly on correct settings and the usage scenario. A cache type dictionary performs well only when the hit rates are high enough (recommended 99% and higher). You can view the average hit rate in the system.dictionaries table.

If setting allow_read_expired_keys is set to 1, by default 0. Then dictionary can support asynchronous updates. If a client requests keys and all of them are in cache, but some of them are expired, then dictionary will return expired keys for a client and request them asynchronously from the source.

To improve cache performance, use a subquery with LIMIT, and call the function with the dictionary externally.

Supported sources: MySQL, ClickHouse, executable, HTTP.

Example of settings:

<layout>
    <cache>
        <!-- The size of the cache, in number of cells. Rounded up to a power of two. -->
        <size_in_cells>1000000000</size_in_cells>
        <!-- Allows to read expired keys. -->
        <allow_read_expired_keys>0</allow_read_expired_keys>
        <!-- Max size of update queue. -->
        <max_update_queue_size>100000</max_update_queue_size>
        <!-- Max timeout in milliseconds for push update task into queue. -->
        <update_queue_push_timeout_milliseconds>10</update_queue_push_timeout_milliseconds>
        <!-- Max wait timeout in milliseconds for update task to complete. -->
        <query_wait_timeout_milliseconds>60000</query_wait_timeout_milliseconds>
        <!-- Max threads for cache dictionary update. -->
        <max_threads_for_updates>4</max_threads_for_updates>
    </cache>
</layout>

or

LAYOUT(CACHE(SIZE_IN_CELLS 1000000000))

Set a large enough cache size. You need to experiment to select the number of cells:

  1. Set some value.
  2. Run queries until the cache is completely full.
  3. Assess memory consumption using the system.dictionaries table.
  4. Increase or decrease the number of cells until the required memory consumption is reached.

complex_key_cache 

This type of storage is for use with composite keys. Similar to cache.

ssd_cache 

Similar to cache, but stores data on SSD and index in RAM. All cache dictionary settings related to update queue can also be applied to SSD cache dictionaries.

<layout>
    <ssd_cache>
        <!-- Size of elementary read block in bytes. Recommended to be equal to SSD's page size. -->
        <block_size>4096</block_size>
        <!-- Max cache file size in bytes. -->
        <file_size>16777216</file_size>
        <!-- Size of RAM buffer in bytes for reading elements from SSD. -->
        <read_buffer_size>131072</read_buffer_size>
        <!-- Size of RAM buffer in bytes for aggregating elements before flushing to SSD. -->
        <write_buffer_size>1048576</write_buffer_size>
        <!-- Path where cache file will be stored. -->
        <path>/var/lib/clickhouse/user_files/test_dict</path>
    </ssd_cache>
</layout>

or

LAYOUT(SSD_CACHE(BLOCK_SIZE 4096 FILE_SIZE 16777216 READ_BUFFER_SIZE 1048576
    PATH '/var/lib/clickhouse/user_files/test_dict'))

complex_key_ssd_cache 

This type of storage is for use with composite keys. Similar to ssd_cache.

direct 

The dictionary is not stored in memory and directly goes to the source during the processing of a request.

The dictionary key has the UInt64 type.

All types of sources, except local files, are supported.

Configuration example:

<layout>
  <direct />
</layout>

or

LAYOUT(DIRECT())

complex_key_direct 

This type of storage is for use with composite keys. Similar to direct.

ip_trie 

This type of storage is for mapping network prefixes (IP addresses) to metadata such as ASN.

Example: The table contains network prefixes and their corresponding AS number and country code:

  +-----------|-----|------+
  | prefix          | asn   | cca2   |
  +=================+=======+========+
  | 202.79.32.0/20  | 17501 | NP     |
  +-----------|-----|------+
  | 2620:0:870::/48 | 3856  | US     |
  +-----------|-----|------+
  | 2a02:6b8:1::/48 | 13238 | RU     |
  +-----------|-----|------+
  | 2001:db8::/32   | 65536 | ZZ     |
  +-----------|-----|------+

When using this type of layout, the structure must have a composite key.

Example:

<structure>
    <key>
        <attribute>
            <name>prefix</name>
            <type>String</type>
        </attribute>
    </key>
    <attribute>
            <name>asn</name>
            <type>UInt32</type>
            <null_value />
    </attribute>
    <attribute>
            <name>cca2</name>
            <type>String</type>
            <null_value>??</null_value>
    </attribute>
    ...
</structure>
<layout>
    <ip_trie>
        <!-- Key attribute `prefix` can be retrieved via dictGetString. -->
        <!-- This option increases memory usage. -->
        <access_to_key_from_attributes>true</access_to_key_from_attributes>
    </ip_trie>
</layout>

or

CREATE DICTIONARY somedict (
    prefix String,
    asn UInt32,
    cca2 String DEFAULT '??'
)
PRIMARY KEY prefix

The key must have only one String type attribute that contains an allowed IP prefix. Other types are not supported yet.

For queries, you must use the same functions (dictGetT with a tuple) as for dictionaries with composite keys:

dictGetT('dict_name', 'attr_name', tuple(ip))

The function takes either UInt32 for IPv4, or FixedString(16) for IPv6:

dictGetString('prefix', 'asn', tuple(IPv6StringToNum('2001:db8::1')))

Other types are not supported yet. The function returns the attribute for the prefix that corresponds to this IP address. If there are overlapping prefixes, the most specific one is returned.

Data must completely fit into RAM.

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