Use TiFlash

After TiFlash is deployed, data replication does not automatically begin. You need to manually specify the tables to be replicated.

You can either use TiDB to read TiFlash replicas for medium-scale analytical processing, or use TiSpark to read TiFlash replicas for large-scale analytical processing, which is based on your own needs. See the following sections for details:

Create TiFlash replicas for tables

After TiFlash is connected to the TiKV cluster, data replication by default does not begin. You can send a DDL statement to TiDB through a MySQL client to create a TiFlash replica for a specific table:

ALTER TABLE table_name SET TIFLASH REPLICA count

The parameter of the above command is described as follows:

  • count indicates the number of replicas. When the value is 0, the replica is deleted.

If you execute multiple DDL statements on a same table, only the last statement is ensured to take effect. In the following example, two DDL statements are executed on the table tpch50, but only the second statement (to delete the replica) takes effect.

Create two replicas for the table:

ALTER TABLE `tpch50`.`lineitem` SET TIFLASH REPLICA 2

Delete the replica:

ALTER TABLE `tpch50`.`lineitem` SET TIFLASH REPLICA 0

Notes:

  • If the table t is replicated to TiFlash through the above DDL statements, the table created using the following statement will also be automatically replicated to TiFlash:

    CREATE TABLE table_name like t
    
  • For the current version, if you create the TiFlash replica before using TiDB Lightning to import the data, the data import will fail. You must import data to the table before creating the TiFlash replica for the table.

  • It is recommended that you do not replicate more than 1,000 tables because this lowers the PD scheduling performance. This limit will be removed in later versions.

  • TiFlash reserves the system database. You cannot create TiFlash replicas for the table in the database named system in TiDB. If you forcibly create such TiFlash replica, the result will be an undefined behavior (a temporary restriction).

Check the replication progress

You can check the status of the TiFlash replicas of a specific table using the following statement. The table is specified using the WHERE clause. If you remove the WHERE clause, you will check the replica status of all tables.

SELECT * FROM information_schema.tiflash_replica WHERE TABLE_SCHEMA = '<db_name>' and TABLE_NAME = '<table_name>'

In the result of above statement:

  • AVAILABLE indicates whether the TiFlash replicas of this table is available or not. 1 means available and 0 means unavailable. Once the replicas become available, this status does not change. If you use DDL statements to modify the number of replicas, the replication status will be recalculated.
  • PROGRESS means the progress of the replication. The value is between 0.0 and 1.0. 1 means at least one replica is replicated.

Use TiDB to read TiFlash replicas

TiDB provides three ways to read TiFlash replicas. If you have added a TiFlash replica without any engine configuration, the CBO (cost-based optimization) mode is used by default.

Smart selection

For tables with TiFlash replicas, the TiDB optimizer automatically determines whether to use TiFlash replicas based on the cost estimation. You can use the desc or explain analyze statement to check whether or not a TiFlash replica is selected. For example:

desc select count(*) from test.t;
+--------------------------+---------+--------------+---------------+--------------------------------+
| id                       | estRows | task         | access object | operator info                  |
+--------------------------+---------+--------------+---------------+--------------------------------+
| StreamAgg_9              | 1.00    | root         |               | funcs:count(1)->Column#4       |
| └─TableReader_17         | 1.00    | root         |               | data:TableFullScan_16          |
|   └─TableFullScan_16     | 1.00    | cop[tiflash] | table:t       | keep order:false, stats:pseudo |
+--------------------------+---------+--------------+---------------+--------------------------------+
3 rows in set (0.00 sec)
explain analyze select count(*) from test.t;
+--------------------------+---------+---------+--------------+---------------+----------------------------------------------------------------------+--------------------------------+-----------+------+
| id                       | estRows | actRows | task         | access object | execution info                                                       | operator info                  | memory    | disk |
+--------------------------+---------+---------+--------------+---------------+----------------------------------------------------------------------+--------------------------------+-----------+------+
| StreamAgg_9              | 1.00    | 1       | root         |               | time:83.8372ms, loops:2                                              | funcs:count(1)->Column#4       | 372 Bytes | N/A  |
| └─TableReader_17         | 1.00    | 1       | root         |               | time:83.7776ms, loops:2, rpc num: 1, rpc time:83.5701ms, proc keys:0 | data:TableFullScan_16          | 152 Bytes | N/A  |
|   └─TableFullScan_16     | 1.00    | 1       | cop[tiflash] | table:t       | time:43ms, loops:1                                                   | keep order:false, stats:pseudo | N/A       | N/A  |
+--------------------------+---------+---------+--------------+---------------+----------------------------------------------------------------------+--------------------------------+-----------+------+

cop[tiflash] means that the task will be sent to TiFlash for processing. If you have not selected a TiFlash replica, you can try to update the statistics using the analyze table statement, and then check the result using the explain analyze statement.

Note that if a table has only a single TiFlash replica and the related node cannot provide service, queries in the CBO mode will repeatedly retry. In this situation, you need to specify the engine or use the manual Hint to read data from TiKV.

Engine isolation

Engine isolation is to specify that all queries use a replica of the specified engine by configuring the corresponding variable. The optional engines are tikv and tiflash, with the following two configuration levels:

  • SESSION level. Use the following statement to configure:

    set @@session.tidb_isolation_read_engines = "engine list separated by commas";
    

    or

    set SESSION tidb_isolation_read_engines = "engine list separated by commas";
    

    The default configuration of the SESSION level inherits from TiDB configuration of the INSTANCE level.

  • TiDB instance-level, namely, INSTANCE level. This level overlaps with the SESSION level. For example, if you have configured “tikv, tiflash” in the SESSION level and “tikv” in the INSTANCE level, only TiKV is read.

    Add the following configuration item in the TiDB configuration file:

    [isolation-read]
    engines = ["tikv", "tiflash"]
    

    The INSTANCE-level default configuration is ["tikv", "tiflash"].

When the engine is configured as “tikv, tiflash”, it can read both TiKV and TiFlash replicas at the same time, and the optimizer automatically chooses to read which one. After the engine is specified, if the table in the query does not have a corresponding engine replica, an error is reported indicating that the table does not have the engine replica. Because the TiKV replica always exist, so the only situation is that the engine is configured as tiflash but the TiFlash replica does not exist.

Manual Hint

Manual Hint can force TiDB to use TiFlash replicas for specific table(s). The priority of manual Hint is lower than that of engine isolation. If the engine specified in Hint is not in the engine list, a warning is returned. Here is an example of using the manual Hint:

select /*+ read_from_storage(tiflash[table_name]) */ ... from table_name;

Engine isolation has higher priority over CBO and Hint, and Hint has higher priority over the cost estimation, which means that the cost estimation only selects the replica of the specified engine.

Use TiSpark to read TiFlash replicas

Currently, you can use TiSpark to read TiFlash replicas in a method similar to the engine isolation in TiDB. This method is to configure the spark.tispark.use.tiflash parameter to true (or false).

Notes

When this parameter is set to true, only the TiFlash replicas of all tables involved in the query are read and these tables must have TiFlash replicas; for tables that do not have TiFlash replicas, an error is reported. When this parameter is set to false, only the TiKV replica is read.

You can configure this parameter in either of the following ways:

  • Add the following item in the spark-defaults.conf file:

    spark.tispark.use.tiflash true
    
  • Add --conf spark.tispark.use.tiflash=true in the initialization command when initializing Spark shell or Thrift server.

  • Set spark.conf.set("spark.tispark.use.tiflash", true) in Spark shell in a real-time manner.

  • Set set spark.tispark.use.tiflash=true in Thrift server after the server is connected via beeline.

Supported push-down calculations

Note:

The feature that enables TiFlash to support the new framework for collations in TiDB is in development. Currently, if you enable the new framework for collations in TiDB, none of the expressions can be pushed down. This restriction will be removed in later versions.

TiFlash mainly supports predicate and aggregate push-down calculations. Push-down calculations can help TiDB perform distributed acceleration. Currently, table joins and DISTINCT COUNT are not the supported calculation types, which will be optimized in later versions.

Currently, TiFlash supports pushing down a limited number of expressions. To learn the supported expressions, refer to expression list.

TiFlash does not support push-down calculations in the following situations:

  • Expressions that contain Duration and JSON cannot be pushed down.
  • If an aggregate function or a WHERE clause contains expressions that are not in this list, the aggregate or related predicate filtering cannot be pushed down.

If a query encounters unsupported push-down calculations, TiDB needs to complete the remaining calculations, which might greatly affect the TiFlash acceleration effect.