Important Settings

Resource allocation is important for the execution of any job. If not configured correctly, the job can consume the entire clusters resources and cause execution failure because of memory and other related problems.

This section provides guidelines for configuring the following important settings:


A bucket is the smallest unit of in-memory storage for SnappyData tables. Data in a table is distributed evenly across all the buckets. When a new server joins or an existing server leaves the cluster, buckets are moved around in order to ensure that data is balanced across the nodes where the table is defined.

The default number of buckets in the SnappyData cluster mode is 128. In the local mode it is cores*2, subject to a maximum of 64 buckets and a minumum of 8 buckets.

The number of buckets has an impact on query performance, storage density, and ability to scale the system as data volumes grow.

If there are more buckets in a table than required, it means there is less data per bucket. For column tables, this may result in reduced compression that SnappyData achieves with various encodings. Similarly, if there are not enough buckets in a table, not enough partitions are created while running a query and hence cluster resources are not used efficiently. Also, if the cluster is scaled at a later point of time rebalancing may not be optimal.

For column tables, it is recommended to set a number of buckets such that each bucket has at least 100-150 MB of data. This attribute is set when creating a table.


The default member-timeout in SnappyData cluster is 30 seconds. The default is 120 seconds and spark.executor.heartbeatInterval is 10 seconds as noted in the Spark documents.
If applications require node failure detection to be faster, then these properties should be reduced accordingly (spark.executor.heartbeatInterval but must always be much lower than as specified in the Spark Documents).
However, note that this can cause spurious node failures to be reported due to GC pauses. For example, the applications with reduced settings need to be resistant to job failures due to GC settings.

This attribute is set in the configuration files conf/locators, conf/servers and conf/leads files.


SnappyData writes table data on disk. By default, the disk location that SnappyData uses is the directory specified using -dir option, while starting the member. SnappyData also uses temporary storage for storing intermediate data. The amount of intermediate data depends on the type of query and can be in the range of the actual data size.
To achieve better performance, it is recommended to store temporary data on a different disk (preferably SSD) than the table data. This can be done by setting the spark.local.dir parameter.

This attribute is set in the leads configuration files conf/leads.

Operating System Settings

For best performance, the following operating system settings are recommended on the lead and server nodes.

Spark and SnappyData spawn a number of threads and sockets for concurrent/parallel processing so the server and lead node machines may need to be configured for higher limits of open files and threads/processes.

A minimum of 8192 is recommended for open file descriptors limit and nproc limit to be greater than 128K.
To change the limits of these settings for a user, the /etc/security/limits.conf file needs to be updated. A typical limits.conf used for SnappyData servers and leads appears as follows:

ec2-user          hard    nofile      32768
ec2-user          soft    nofile      32768
ec2-user          hard    nproc       unlimited
ec2-user          soft    nproc       524288
ec2-user          hard    sigpending  unlimited
ec2-user          soft    sigpending  524288
  • ec2-user is the user running SnappyData.

Recent linux distributions using systemd (like RHEL/CentOS 7, Ubuntu 18.04) need the NOFILE limit to be increased in systemd configuration too. Edit /etc/systemd/system.conf as root, search for #DefaultLimitNOFILE under the [Manager] section. Uncomment and change it to DefaultLimitNOFILE=32768. Reboot for the above changes to be applied. Confirm that the new limits have been applied in a terminal/ssh window with "ulimit -a -S" (soft limits) and "ulimit -a -H" (hard limits).

OS Cache Size
When there is a lot of disk activity especially during table joins and during an eviction, the process may experience GC pauses. To avoid such situations, it is recommended to reduce the OS cache size by specifying a lower dirty ratio and less expiry time of the dirty pages.

Add the following to /etc/sysctl.conf using the command sudo vim /etc/sysctl.conf or sudo gedit /etc/sysctl.conf or by using an editor of your choice:


Then apply to current session using the command sudo sysctl -p

These settings lower the OS cache buffer sizes which reduces long GC pauses during disk flush but can decrease overall disk write throughput. This is especially true for slower magnetic disks where the bulk insert throughput can see a noticeable drop (such as 20%), while the duration of GC pauses should reduce significantly (such as 50% or more). If long GC pauses, for example in the range of 10s of seconds, during bulk inserts, updates, or deletes is not a problem then these settings can be skipped.

Swap File
Since modern operating systems perform lazy allocation, it has been observed that despite setting -Xmx and -Xms settings, at runtime, the operating system may fail to allocate new pages to the JVM. This can result in the process going down.
It is recommended to set swap space on your system using the following commands.

# sets a swap space of 32 GB
sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/var/swapfile.1 bs=1M count=32768
sudo chmod 600 /var/swapfile.1
sudo mkswap /var/swapfile.1
sudo swapon /var/swapfile.1

SnappyData Smart Connector mode and Local mode settings

Managing Executor Memory

For efficient loading of data from a Smart Connector application or a Local Mode application, all the partitions of the input data are processed in parallel by making use of all the available cores. Further, to have better ingestion speed, small internal columnar storage structures are created in the Spark application's cluster itself, which is then directly inserted into the required buckets of the column table in the SnappyData cluster. These internal structures are in encoded form and for efficient encoding, some memory space is acquired upfront, which is independent of the amount of data to be loaded into the tables.
For example, if there are 32 cores for the Smart Connector application and the number of buckets of the column table is equal or more than that, then, each of the 32 executor threads can take around 32MB of memory. This indicates that 32MB * 32MB (1 GB) of memory is required. Thus, the default of 1GB for executor memory is not sufficient and therefore a default of at least 2 GB is recommended in this case.

You can modify this setting in the spark.executor.memory property. For more information, refer to the Spark documentation.

JVM settings for optimal performance

The following JVM settings are set by default and is recommended only for local mode.

  • -XX:+UseParNewGC
  • -XX:+UseConcMarkSweepGC
  • -XX:CMSInitiatingOccupancyFraction=50
  • -XX:+CMSClassUnloadingEnabled
  • -XX:-DontCompileHugeMethods
  • -XX:CompileThreshold=2000
  • -XX:+UnlockDiagnosticVMOptions
  • -XX:ParGCCardsPerStrideChunk=4k
  • -Djdk.nio.maxCachedBufferSize=131072


-XX:-DontCompileHugeMethods -XX:+UnlockDiagnosticVMOptions -XX:ParGCCardsPerStrideChunk=4k

CMS collector with ParNew is used by default as above and recommended. GC settings set above have been seen to work best in representative workloads and can be tuned further as per application. For enterprise users off-heap is recommended for best performance.

Set in the conf/locators, conf/leads, and conf/servers file.

Code Generation and Tokenization

SnappyData uses generated code for best performance for most of the queries and internal operations. This is done for both Spark-side whole-stage code generation for queries, for example,Technical Preview of Apache Spark 2.0 blog, and internally by SnappyData for many operations. For example, rolling over data from row buffer to column store or merging batches among others.
The point key lookup queries on row tables and JDBC inserts bypasses this and performs direct operations. However, for all other operations the product uses code generation for best performance.

In many cases, the first query execution is slightly slower than subsequent query executions. This is primarily due to the overhead of compilation of generated code for the query plan and optimized machine code generation by JVM's hotspot JIT. Each distinct piece of generated code is a separate class which is loaded using its own ClassLoader. To reduce these overheads in multiple runs, this class is reused using a cache whose size is controlled by spark.sql.codegen.cacheSize property (default is 2000). Thus when the size limit of the cache is breached, the older classes that are used for a while gets removed from the cache.

Further to minimize the generated plans, SnappyData performs tokenization of the values that are most constant in queries by default. Therefore the queries that differ only in constants can still create the same generated code plan. Thus if an application has a fixed number of query patterns that are used repeatedly, then the effect of the slack during the first execution, due to compilation and JIT, is minimized.


A single query pattern constitues of queries that differ only in constant values that are embedded in the query string.

For cases where application has many query patterns, you can increase the value of spark.sql.codegen.cacheSize property from the default size of 2000.

You can also increase the value for JVM's ReservedCodeCacheSize property and add additional RAM capacity accordingly.


In the smart connector mode, Apache Spark has the default cache size as 100 which cannot be changed while the same property works if you are using SnappyData's Spark distribution.