Reasons to use MySQL 5.5 Presentation

I recently gave a presentation at the New York Effective MySQL Meetup on the new features of, and some of the compelling reasons to upgrade to MySQL 5.5. There are also a number of new MySQL variables that can have a dramatic effect on performance in a highly transactional environment, innodb_buffer_pool_instances and innodb_purge_threads are just two to consider.

For more information on all the new variables, status, reserved words and benchmarks of new features you can Download Presentation Slides.

Utilizing multiple indexes per MySQL table join

Historically it was considered that MySQL will generally use only one index per referenced table in a SQL query. In MySQL 5.0 the introduction of merge indexes enabled for certain conditions the possibility to utilize two indexes however this could result in worst performance then creating a better index. In MySQL 5.1 it became possible to control optimization switches with the optimizer_switch system variable.

However in explaining how to utilize the intersection, union and sort union in queries I discovered that MySQL could use three indexes for one given table.

        Extra: Using union(name,intersect(founded,type)); Using where

I was not aware of this.

Extra: Using Index

Many people consider this information in the MySQL Query Execution Plan (QEP) to indicate that the referenced table is using an index. It actually means that ONLY the index is used. This can for larger and more frequent queries provide a significant boost.

In a recent example, adding an index dropped a query from 190ms to 6ms. However adding a better index dropped that 6ms query to 1.2ms. When executed 100s/1000s of times per second these millisecond improvements can have a huge benefit in greater scalability. While people often tune slow running queries, in a well tuned system shaving milliseconds of queries, in this example making 6ms query 80% better is a far greater improvement.

You can get a detailed explanation of how to identify, create and verify covering indexes from my Percona Live presentation Improving performance with better indexes where I also include another great 10 table join example, reducing a query running 20,000+ times per second from 175ms to 10ms.

Why SQL_MODE is important

Today was another example of where a correct SQL_MODE saved customer data from being corrupted. By default, MySQL does not enforce data integrity. It allows what is called silent truncations where the result of what you INSERT or UPDATE does not represent truth. NOTE: I see very few customers ever have this correctly configured, those that do have actually listened to my advice.

If you do not read any further, your production MySQL environments should be running with at the bare minimum of SQL_MODE=STRICT_ALL_TABLES however I would also advocate for additional SQL_MODE settings.

For this example, some modified undesirable code attempted to reduce a counter by 1, however because of an UNSIGNED data type and a correctly set SQL_MODE, the application produced an error and data was not corrupted.

This is what should happen with your SQL.

mysql> update stats set loss_count=loss_count - 1 where user_id=42;
ERROR 1690 (22003): BIGINT UNSIGNED value is out of range in '(`db`.`stats`.`loss_count` - 1)'

It is interesting to note that the error message actually is misleading. The datatype for the column is SMALLINT however the error message prompted an unnecessary schema verification. Even with the calculation I would have assumed the inherited data type would be the column definition before the subtraction. If you try to set the value automatically to negative you get a better message.

mysql> update stats set loss_count=-1 where user_id=42;
ERROR 1264 (22003): Out of range value for column 'loss_count' at row 1

So why is this a big deal? If your MySQL instance is not using SQL_MODE then the result would have been a value of 0 and this would never highlight the bug in the code.

I should point out that only Drizzle of the MySQL forks and variants has tightened up this data integrity, however I have to agree to disagree with the decision to drop UNSIGNED. While I under internally the code simplification behind the decision, without check constraints in MySQL, UNSIGNED is a saving grace. In this example, Drizzle in this case would not have reported an error.