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HBase: The Definitive Guide by Lars George

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Chapter 11. Performance Tuning

Thus far, you have seen how to set up a cluster and make use of it. Using HBase in production often requires that you turn many knobs to make it hum as expected. This chapter covers various advanced techniques for tuning a cluster and testing it repeatedly to verify its performance.

Garbage Collection Tuning

One of the lower-level settings you need to adjust is the garbage collection parameters for the region server processes. Note that the master is not a problem here as it does not handle any heavy loads, and data does not pass through it. These parameters only need to be added to the region servers.

You might wonder why you have to tune the garbage collection parameters to run HBase efficiently. The problem is that the Java Runtime Environment comes with basic assumptions regarding what your programs are doing, how they create objects, how they allocate the heap to handle data, and so on. These assumptions work well in a lot of cases. In addition, the JRE has heuristic algorithms that adjust these assumptions as your process is running. Even with those in place, the JRE is limited to the implementation of such heuristics and can handle some use cases better than others.

The bottom line is that the JRE does not handle region servers very well. This is caused by certain workloads, especially write-heavy ones, stressing the memory allocation mechanisms to a degree that it cannot safely rely on the JRE assumptions alone: you need to use the provided JRE ...

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